FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

January 19, 2012

Anticipating Ripples in the Pond

Filed under: Bribery Act,compliance programs,FCPA,SCCE — tfoxlaw @ 1:51 am
Tags: , ,

It is January 19, 2012. What is the significance of this date? Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in one month! It is a time of year that even 2011’s worst team in baseball, the 106-loss Houston Astros have a chance to succeed in the upcoming baseball season. Do I have unrealistic expectations or is it just wishful thinking? I prefer the phrase ‘hope springs eternal, especially in Spring Training.” I pondered my love of baseball, especially during Spring Training, whilst reading an article in the January/February edition of the SCCE Magazine, in an article entitled “Rock in the pond ethics” by Frank Bucaro.

Bucaro’s article is based around the concept that “Decision making is like throwing a rock in a pond. No matter how big or small the rock is, water is displaced.” His thesis is that it is better to consider the ripple effects of your decision making before throwing that rock into your company’s ethics pond. If you do not do so you can easily run the risk of not only having unintended consequences occur but consequences for which you may have no response for, yet be held accountable for in your company. So to help navigate this, he provides five bases to touch before making such a decision.

  1. When a decision needs to be made, hold the rock, hold and then hold it longer. In other word, preparation prevents poor performance. To the best that you can do so, do not pull the trigger on the decision until you know what the consequences will be and that you can deal with those you know and be prepared for the unforeseen consequences.
  2. 2.      Do not let your emotions dictate when to throw that rock. Ask a trusted colleague for some time and explain the situation. Not only does this bring communal wisdom into your decision making process but it slows down the process to let any excess emotionalism burn off. A good rule of thumb – sleep on it before throwing the rock.
  3. Sometimes you need to put the rock down. It is not always wrong to put the rock down and obtain additional information and data. Be careful that you do not fall into catharsis but if you need to put the rock down, do not be afraid to do so.
  4. The bigger the rock, the bigger the ripples. A big splash means simply that, your decision will have many ripples and may well splash back on you. But trust your instincts. If your gut says something to you, you had best listen to it.
  5. Know what your values are before a decision is made. What are the three most important things about your company’s ethical culture? Values, Values and Values. Know what your values are before you throw that rock. If your decision is values based (assuming you have the right values); both you and your company should be in a good place.

Will the Bucaro five points guarantee a 100% correct decision each and every time? No, they will not, but it will put you in position to anticipate the issues and be prepared for the consequences of your actions.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

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