Meadow CreekNews

Is Being Politically Correct Blinding Your Business Vision?

Filed under Business Management, Small Business, Venture Capital and Start Ups on July 6, 2009

My own view is that political correctness has resulted in the dumbing down of America. We can no longer have intelligent conversation about important issues of the day for fear of offending someone or that “political correctness” will be used against us to prevent otherwise compelling arguments from being made. This same phenomenon can be self imposed in the business world.

An old mentor of mine once referred to “killer assumptions” that were engrained in the corporate culture that prevented rationale assessment of business issues. This can be such questions as having to be in one business, a loss leader, in order to also be in another more profitable business. There can also be predetermined ways to organize a particular business, what technology, resources or manufacturing has to be home grown or internal versus outsourced. Virtually any critical assumption in the analysis of a business issue can be considered an incontrovertible fact versus a specious assumption depending upon corporate culture.

Corporate culture is largely a product of a company’s historical experience. Certain assumptions can be valid for decades, but the market environment is constantly changing. No company wants to waste valuable time and resources testing preconceived assumptions every time a decision is made. At the same time, a periodic review of a company’s perspective should be made to ferret out the “killer assumptions.”

These assumptions can remain sacrosanct and to question them becomes a matter of violating “political correctness” resulting in scorn and isolation from one’s peers. It often takes the introduction of new management from the outside to question the wisdom of these ingrained beliefs. Even then, to violate deeply held beliefs on how a particular business works can lead to departures with the epitaph that there was not a good fit with the corporate culture.
There is a fine line between encouraging the reexamination of the corp
orate belief system and opening up every business discussion to what would essentially be reinventing of the wheel. A reexamination of the corporate belief system should be part of the strategic planning process and left to the best and brightest. However, those who question the corporate going–in assumptions should not be shot unless their arguments are without merit and waste time.

The bottom line for both corporate and public discourse is that there should be no taboo. An argument should stand on its own merit. To shoot down discussion based on whether it is insensitive socially, environmentally, politically etc. is no way to run a country. Likewise, being unwilling to discuss rationale fact based business argument because it is contrary to preconceived thinking, long standing beliefs and the way we’ve always done it is no way to run a business.

Political correctness attempts to take the discomfort out debating divergent opinions. That’s not the way the world works.

Richard Gabel

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