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What Happened?

VW is up to its ears in EPA troubles. Now coming to light is the fact that they played games to trick the sensors into passing vehicles that were many times beyond the limit on emissions.


Whenever something like this happens I am always flabbergasted when people look at each other and say, “what happened”?


These events happen all the time in business, in government, and not just here but in all countries.

Now I can talk about culture here but most likely this started with incentive structures. Some people knew that if they didn’t have enough VW trucks out the door and on the road there would be hell to pay. Either their comp would be hit; they would lose their job, whatever.


In government there aren’t so much monetary incentives but power incentives. For example, just get it done because it could cost us votes, a seat at the table, whatever.


And then, when the dishonesty becomes institutional by deed it now becomes a part of the culture. It becomes “okay” to cheat and steal as long as results happen. Oddly enough it is often the case that it is the people within the organization who are last to notice the rot.


One way to keep this from happening might be to get some sensitivity toward your culture. If it begins to stink then dig down into the causes. Don’t hold more retreats and rah rah sessions before you unravel any imbedded incentive structures that might be motivating your culture to stink up the joint.

In this way you won’t get anyone looking at your company and saying “what happened”?

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