Life isn’t just black and white: most things are in shades of grey. Popular opinions on diverse subjects may be plotted on a bell curve, even if a skewed one. However, we all have some principles on which we will not compromise, and which we like to think are common to all ‘right thinking’ people.If there’s one thing that internet forums seem to demonstrate, it is that there are no issues on which everyone agrees. From the most mundane to the most pivotal questions, opinions may be quite polarised. Without mass access to the internet community we may all have carried on, serenely unaware that large numbers of people hold opinions violently conflicted with our own no matter how obviously right we think we are.
It doesn’t actually take an internet forum to demonstrate, for example, that not everyone believes in cleaning up after their dogs because the evidence to the contrary is spread all over our streets. Less trivially, many were surprised at the large numbers of people that believed Raoul Moat to have been some kind of hero, unfairly pursued by the police. Perhaps many of his fans were equally surprised, and pleased, to find how numerous they were, so that they felt able to express opinions that they may otherwise have kept to themselves.
Lucy Kellaway must have known how such questions polarise opinions when she posed one in her Dear Lucy ‘agony aunt’ column in the FT recently. She highlighted a situation, perhaps fabricated, of a board just about to appoint a new CEO which in the nick of time discovered that he had ‘done a Huhne‘* to avoid getting penalty points on his driving licence for speeding. The question: should the board go ahead and make the appointment? The responses on Lucy’s blog were divided between those that thought someone that could do such a thing had demonstrated conclusively that they were unfit to hold such a position, and those that held the contrary view, that he would more likely make an excellent CEO because he had demonstrated himself to be both crafty and ruthless.
I know where I stand on the question that Lucy Kellaway posed: I’d actually like to see such a person prosecuted, and certainly not be given a responsible job. I’m sure everyone else involved in the management of Critical Software would have a similar view and, further, I’d like to think that everyone involved with the company would instinctively know that that would be the management’s stance.
One of our aspirations at Critical, when we meet all the criteria for entry, is to be listed as one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies To Work For. I believe that we’ll get there one day, but I also think that we would not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of doing so if we all felt differently about the answer to Lucy Kellaway’s question.
There’s a saying, often wrongly attributed to Mao Tse-Tung, that a fish rots from the head. In this context, I think that’s perfectly apt.
* For those that aren’t ‘up to speed’ with the news, UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is alleged to have persuaded his wife to take his speeding points.