Integrity In Times of Turmoil

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22 December 2008
Craig Weber

It is easy to do the right thing when everything is going well. It gets harder as conditions deteriorate.

That basic truth applies to just about everything. I think it is relevant to the times we're in, whether you're an insurercompeting for scarce premium dollars, a vendor trying to differentiate your products to customers, or an analyst firm that provides a neutral voice on business and technology trends.

How about an example that touches our industry? A homeowner I know was horrified to discover that the custom-made cabinets in his brand-new home were off-gassing immense amounts of formaldehyde, nearly a year after he moved in. His builder, the cabinet subcontractor, the supplier of the materials used in the cabinets, and their respective insurers all cashed their checks after the house was built. But despite their clear shared responsibility for the problem, they all ran for the hills when the formaldehyde was discovered.The homeowner moved out and took a third mortgage to remedy the problem while the lawyers argued over who should ultimately pay for the fix.

There's plenty of shameful behavior in that story. But focus on the insurers. Were they justified in denying liability and pushing the case into suit? I think they all need a gentle reminder that the true measure of who we are--as companies and individuals--emerges in times of trouble, not in times of plenty.

For those of us who appreciate a good challenge and who want to demonstrate their commitment to doing the right thing--always--these are the best of times. And times of revelation, in a sense. As the prospects for a quick economic turnaround dim, we'll all have new insights into who thrives on doing the right thing, and who does not. This is a distinction that matters.


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Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America