Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest  |  02/27/2009

Death Row Conversion

I guess later is better than not at all.

Why is it that we have to be at the end of our rope, all hope lost, and near death’s door, before we “see the light?” Near-death experiences; prison time; losing your job, your house, your family; all seem to clarify our focus about where we’ve gone wrong and how we can do better. Once there’s no way to go but up, confession, repentance, and forgiveness all seem so easy.

I’m not speaking from a religious perspective. I’m speaking in even broader terms. Why do we wait until the system breaks before we decide that, gee, maybe we haven’t been as honest as we should be? You need to look no further than recent Quality Digest online or print articles to see where I’m coming from.

First, there’s Mike Micklewright’s online series “I’m Sorry--the Recession is My Fault” ( www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-column/i-m-sorry-recession-my-fault-part-1.html ). Micklewright confesses in a not too tongue-in-cheek way that the recession is his fault. Not solely his, of course, but the fault of all quality practitioners. We haven’t practiced what we preached, and we haven’t promoted and evangelized the quality message strong enough. Or as he put it, “If the quality industry and profession, as a whole, were doing a good job, we should have been much better prepared as a country in predicting and heading off a large portion of the economic mess we are currently in.”

Steven Ouellette in his online column tackles ethics ( www.qualitydigest.com/inside/six-sigma-column/new-year-s-resolution.html). There’s legal and then there’s ethical, Ouellette reminds us. “What I’m agitating for isn’t that you behave legally during the coming year,” writes Ouellette. “I know you were going to do that (and if you weren’t, I doubt there’s anything that I’m going to be able to do about it). I’m proposing that you think about your actions within an ethical framework.”

In our December 2008 issue, Scott Paton gave us an eloquent column, “Give Thanks,” in which he reminds us, “Sometimes stopping to think about what you’ve got instead of working for what you really don’t need helps put things in perspective. ” E ven when surrounded by failing processes and people, you need to keep your eyes open for what’s working.

Then there are the dozens of article submissions I’ve gotten each month since the economy started falling to pieces. Take this one from author Joe Calhoon, “Lead Through Adversity: How to Succeed in Today’s Economy--Guaranteed!” Some of Calhoon’s key points:

Check your mindset

Develop your character through courage, integrity, patience, and humility

Live a balanced life of meaning and contribution


This is all great. But why wait until you’re beat down to the ground before you decide to “check your mindset?”

If you’re a religious person, shouldn’t you be talking to God and making decisions based on your understanding of right and wrong each day? If you aren’t religious, you still have a moral compass, right? Given the choice between legal vs. ethical, shouldn’t the latter always trump the former?

Once we get out of this recession, I hope we don’t go back to business as usual, where, with a little money in our pocket and our family taken care of, we backslide into thinking that right and wrong are relative terms.


About The Author

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Dirk Dusharme is Quality Digest’s editor in chief.