Honesty and courage in business

January 13, 2013 · 1 min read

An article in the Harvard Business Review gives some great examples of how product quality requires ruthless honesty:

My parents just bought a flat screen TV from a major manufacturer. The speakers are in the back, pointing away from the viewer, and they can’t hear the damned thing. Why is a product like that allowed out the door? Because of a thousand people at a dozen levels remaining silent. [Emphasis added.]

Many people think that in business, morality is of secondary importance at best and a downright liability at worst. But in fact, business success demands the most moral principle of all: passionate dedication to the truth. Ben Horowitz says:

In my experience as CEO, I found that the most important decisions tested my courage far more than my intelligence.… In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong vs. doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right.

Perhaps when you use a great product, or have a great customer experience, you stop for a moment to admire the intelligence, creativity, and drive of the people who created it. Next time, also give credit to their honesty and courage.

These days I do most of my writing at The Roots of Progress. If you liked this essay, check out my other work there.


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