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Home > Blog > Enron, a Smart Take
Out of Our Minds
Wednesday, February 01, 2006 6:48 PM
Enron, a Smart Take
Kevin Salwen on Ethics

As the Ken Lay trial once again places the business world's focus on values, it's worth stepping back for a broader view. I love the piece that Les Csorba wrote in the Houston Chronicle.

His column hits so many of the right notes, focusing not only on Lay but on what he represents in our culture. A couple of samples:
-- 'The story of Ken Lay, the son of a minister turned corporate icon, is a sad reminder of how far we have come in our cleverness at deflecting blame.'
-- 'Like many in our day, he has mastered the art of empty confession. Instead of apologizing for personal wrongdoing, such leaders assume collective accountability.'

That Csorba is a partner with search firm Heidrick & Struggles should give us a bit of optimism. I, for one, hope he's hunting for leaders with true enlightment.


7 comments

Harold - 2/3/2006 9:01:24 AM
Well said Grant. Might I add, publicly flogged to your 'fired'?

Living La Vida Harold!
Grant Henninger - 2/2/2006 2:20:14 PM
The distinction that is being made is between facts and opinions or feelings. What I have a problem with is people lying about facts in order to intentionally deceive or divert blame. I'm not taking the extreme stance that nobody can ever be wrong or express an opinion. All I'm saying is that people who lie, in its most broad definition, should be fired.
Harold - 2/2/2006 2:06:01 PM
Sod James Frey! He's just another opportunist willing to bend whichever way possible to get published. 'Publicly raked over the coals...' bloody well right! The rat-bastard tried selling the work over 7 times as a piece of fiction as was rejected.

Bonnie, he LIED. By placing himself in the fictional role he profited by telling everyone the lies were the truth. People bought the book because it was presented as a piece of non-fiction. Given your allowance for 'leeway', we can call The Turner Diaries and The Left Behind series present or near-future fact.

Kill the Enron bastards.

Kev' old man, I'll settle for enlightened despot at the rate we're going.

Living La Vida (and awfully annoyed) Harold!
Shonnie - 2/2/2006 1:54:12 PM
I think Bonnie's point is a good one. There can be a difference in 'the' truth and 'my' truth. Certain things are generally agreed upon and may be accurately called 'the' truth (e.g., 2+2=4, Washington D.C. is the capitol of the United States, we live on the planet earth). Other things are subjective and therefore there may not be 'the' truth (e.g., my childhood was happy, pro athletes are overpaid, that company treats it's employees like trash). All that said, I would prefer people who tell me both 'the' truth--facts, figures, data, even possibilities of what could happen--and their truth--how they feel, what it's like to be in their shoes, how they're being affected. Truthfulness in the corporate and personal terms let's me know that I can trust the person and that I can also tell them my truths.
Bonnie Yelverton - 2/2/2006 11:19:44 AM
I don't think anyone was hurt by James Frey's version of his truth. Authors have to have a little leeway in their descriptions. As far as I understand the situation, it was the publisher who wanted the book labeled as 'memoirs'. Sometimes 'the truth' is more in our minds than in fact. Politically, for example, my brother and I have very different concepts of the 'truth'!
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 2/2/2006 9:54:24 AM
We either want the truth or we don't. James Frey, author of a Million Little Pieces, has just been publicly raked over the coals for his version of his memoirs. He called it 'truth as he remembers it,' Oprah says, and it would appear so does her following, 'The truth is the truth.
To quote the above noted posting....
“When auditors exposed Enron’s trading operation in the late ’80s as fictitious, Kinder wanted it shut down. “I’d fire them all,� he said.' So, the truth was there but was covered over....Do we only want the truth went it suits our needs? Enron hurt thousands of people financially, James Frey hurt thousands of people who believed in his story....Truth be told it's hard to know how much of the truth people want sometimes...'You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!' from the movie.....Living la vida fearless, Jan
Grant Henninger - 2/1/2006 7:35:30 PM
To me the telling sentence is, 'When auditors exposed Enron's trading operation in the late '80s as fictitious, Kinder wanted it shut down. 'I'd fire them all,' he said. Lay didn't listen and kept the operation running.' As my friends and I get further away from school and deeper into the working world I find myself often saying, 'If I were the boss I would fire somebody for that.'

All too often, managers and executives keep people in jobs that they don't belong in. Sometimes it is a lack of work-ethic, sometimes a lack of any ethics, and quite often it is abusive behavior towards other employees.

Maybe I'm too harsh, but if I were the boss I would have a zero tolerance policy for any employee that lied or participated in other unethical behavior.

To me the acceptance of this behavior is unacceptable but all too common.

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