July 09, 2012
As readers know, I don’t often use sports analogies to introduce a topic in this supply chain management blog (I think there were one, maybe two, blogs with a sports angle in the past few years). But something happened in major league baseball recently that begs for comment because of its relevance to the world of business, and in particular to the world of procurement and supply management.
The incident (in a nutshell): Yankees’ outfielder Dewayne Wise attempted to catch a foul ball that was heading into the left-field stands, tumbled into the stands, and did not make the catch. Umpire Mike DiMuro ruled that Wise had made the catch. Wise was aware of the incorrect ruling, but failed to “own up” to the facts as he knew them.
There are two issues here: one, the umpire failed to request seeing the ball before he made the call (the ball was in the possession of a spectator, not in Wise’s glove). That’s a process failure. The much bigger issue from my perspective was the “situational ethics” displayed not only by Wise, but also by other baseball players who basically condoned Wise’s behavior. Wise had a special opportunity to inject an amount of good sportsmanship and leadership into major league baseball’s battered image, and he failed to do so.
Ethics cannot be situational, nor applicable when convenient. Ethics in practice has to be literally a rock of Gibraltar: highly visible, clearly- and sharply-defined, uncompromising, and steadfast. In successful organizations, ethics is a foundation principle for long-term organizational success.
Given the nature of supply management, we have a special opportunity and a professional obligation to represent our companies well to the outside world all the time. A big component of that relates to how we conduct ourselves; namely, our business ethics.
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