I'll Never Do That Again!
Monday, December 20, 2010
by William Dorman CMC
The first referral I
received from IMC USA, c.1990, was from a medium-size printing plant outside of
Philadelphia. The CEO needed a consultant
who could help them assess their operation and recommend upgrades from
letterpress printing to offset printing and digital color scanners. At the time I was considered an industry
expert in such matters. Piece of cake,
I telephoned and made a
visit to do the study. After our meeting
to finalize the study scope and outcomes, I was about to leave and start work
when the CEO asked me to "check up on his brother”. As it turns out he and his brother – who
owned half of the business and was in charge of order fulfillment – were not on
speaking terms. This had been going on
for over a year! The CEO said that
shipments were slipping. He believed his brother may have been sabotaging the
business with the hope of discrediting his leadership as CEO and "trying to get
the Board of Directors to appoint him as CEO”. (The Board was made up of two
other family members and two outsiders.)
The CEO went on to say that
his brother was wasting time and money by not taking a real interest in the
company. He wanted "solid evidence” so
that he could convince the Board to get him out. However, he didn’t want his brother to know
that I was assessing him. The CEO said
that I would be paid very well for this information in addition to the study
To say the least, this was
an extraordinary request and clearly outside the scope of what I planned to do
and, in my view, was not ethical to undertake this "clandestine” effort.
What would you do?
Take the job including "assessing” the brother since it paid
well even though the CEO was not being aboveboard.
Take the job of assessing current operations and new
hardware requirements but refuse to provide information about his brother
except information specifically related to the assessment.
Refuse the job and recommend that the CEO solve the problem
with his brother first since any improvements or upgrades would not necessarily
enhance the company’s long term sustainability until the discord was resolved.
Something else? (Please explain.)
Comment below and let’s see
how many consultants agree on a course of action.