I want to talk about something that has been bothering me for a long time now, namely cheating, which may seem trite but it is something that has become rather pervasive these days, almost to the point of it becoming the national pastime. We see it in our schools in terms of plagiarism and cheating on tests. We see it in the workplace in terms of workers trying to cheat the company and its customers, or the company trying to cheat the employees out of benefits earned. We see it in our personal relationships where spouses are no longer faithful to each other. We see it on the playing fields where coaches and players go to any length to win a game. We see it in those people who try to renege on business transactions such as paying their bills, delivering on a promise, or cheating on their income taxes. And we most definitely see it in our politicians who will stoop to any level and commit any indiscretion to get into office. Nonetheless, it seems the mythical "level playing field" is a thing of the past.
I'm not sure why it has come to this. Perhaps it is due to our desire to win at any cost, or we want to cover our ass, thereby we stubbornly refuse to cooperate in a team manner. Or perhaps we've picked up some bad habits along the way and are emulating the wrong people. Or perhaps we are being taught the wrong lessons by the media. Whatever it is, cheating has become a natural part of our society.
One of our Bryce's Laws states, "The only good business relationship is where both parties benefit." Instead of promoting cutthroat tactics through individualism, what is wrong with achieving success through cooperation? The late W. Edwards Deming, the noted quality assurance consultant, was a big proponent of this concept which he referred to as a "Win/Win" situation. Instead of competition, he preached cooperation; instead of rugged individualism, he preached the need for teamwork. Deming observed people too often create "Win/Lose" situations, whereby one person can only win at the expense of the other party losing. Instead, he recommended the creation of "Win/Win" situations whereby both parties cooperate towards success. To illustrate, he would describe how "Nylon" was created by DuPont, which was actually based on a joint research project between offices in New York and London, hence the name "NYLON." But the point is, you cannot have "Win/Win" situations when one or both parties are bent on cheating the other.
What is needed is a change of perspective. Instead of working at odds with each other, we have to learn that there is more to gain by working together, by establishing trust, by treating each other fairly and equitably. We also need to recognize instances of honesty and integrity. We penalize people who get caught cheating but we do little to reward those who keep their word and treat others fairly. You cannot build heroes and role models if you do not know who they are. As far as I'm concerned, we do far too little in this regard even if it's something as simple as shaking a person's hand and sincerely thanking them for their integrity. If there is no recognition, people will think nobody is noticing their efforts, so why bother? A little positive recognition and respect can go a long way towards changing attitudes and perspectives.
For this to work though, we must always remember the "Win/Win" formula. If any part of the equation falters, then someone is likely to get screwed.
Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.
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