Bob Morris has interviewed Richard Tedlow, the author of Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face—and What to Do About It, here. Here is a quote from Tedlow, excerpted from the book in Business Week, Book Excerpt: Denial at Sears:
There appears to be a persistent belief in once-great companies that have lost their way that if you simply avoid speaking the blunt truth, all the problems will just go away. It is almost as if by telling the truth, you are endowing problems with a reality that they would not otherwise have. It is this brand of magical thinking that leads to shooting the messenger.
There is a long history of companies silencing the messengers. We have stronger and stronger “whistle blower laws,” but companies still find ways to punish, to silence, to “discredit” whistle blowers. And, yes, there are times that whistle blowers are on a personal vendetta, and want to hurt rather than help.
But not always.
When the warnings are clear, and grow louder, of problems around the bend, that is a pretty time to start listening.
For some reason, I think about Scripture more on the weekends, and if you have never read the book of Amos, it may be the purest “here is where things are bad, and we need to face up to this problem and do something about it” piece ever written.
In it is Dr. Martin Luther King’s most well-known quote from Scripture: “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24). But the short, entire book is quite an “it’s time to get honest, and face the music, and make some changes” piece of writing.
So, this is a simple reminder – sometimes we need to hear painful truth. And when we choose not to listen, we are not being very smart.