In his latest column for Forbes.com, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman considers last week’s stinging House of Commons report on the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal and, in particular, its condemnation of CEO Rupert Murdoch for having “exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies.”
In turning a blind eye to problems, Wartzman suggests, “there may be a little Rupert Murdoch in all of us.”
Wartzman notes that Peter Drucker “saw this inclination among companies that face a growing public backlash to their behavior, whether they’re being accused of polluting the air or making unsafe automobiles.” The best executives, according to Drucker, “get ahead of things by offering up sensible rules and restrictions for their business,” Wartzman explains.
“What happens in too many cases is that managers feel intense pressure not to ‘rock the boat,’” Wartzman adds. “Inevitably, this only leads to legislation that is far more punitive than anything industry would have come up with on its own. ‘To expect that there will be no regulation” and thus fail to be proactive, Drucker wrote, ‘is willful blindness’—words that echo exactly the House of Commons report.”
Wartzman says that fighting a predisposition to stick one’s head in the sand takes, above all, “conviction and courage.” “To wait until the crisis hits is already abdication,” Wartzman quotes Drucker as saying. “One has to make the organization capable of anticipating the storm, weathering it and in fact, being ahead of it.”