Fair Play

The striker (wearing the red shirt) is past th...

Image via Wikipedia

I usually try and keep the blog light on Fridays but this morning’s topic is on the serious side.  Since next week is Thanksgiving here in the US, we’re going to focus on food and so this might be the last business-related post for a bit.FIFA has a program called Fair Play.  For those of you outside of the sports world, FIFA is the world governing body of soccer, or football as it’s known everywhere outside of America.  The purpose of the program is simple:

The generic concept of fair play is a fundamental part of the game of football. It represents the positive benefits of playing by the rules, using common sense and respecting fellow players, referees, opponents and fans.

Great way to do business as well, in my opinion.  Change the wording a bit and the notion of playing by the rules, common sense, and respecting customers and business partners (much less yourself) isn’t a bad credo for any business.  Of course, the players that violate the principles of fair play on the pitch usually have only to worry about fooling one person:  the referee.  If his back is turned and he doesn’t see the infraction, not much happens.  Oh sure, thousands of people in the stadium and many more on TV see the bad behavior and try to communicate about it but the only person who matters can’t use the communication (often in the form of bottles or flares) to do anything retroactively.  Yes, there may be tons of browbeating after the fact but the bad act often goes unpunished.

That’s where it’s different in business.  Today’s example comes from Wired which writes about an iPhone developer who appears to have paid people to give its application glowing reviews in an effort to boost sales.  Unlike soccer, this moron has to answer to millions of people who are watching because the way things work today everyone has a whistle.  Not only is one’s bad behavior more readily discoverable but getting caught means instant retribution in a number of ways.  Think this is isolated?  Ask the Motrin folks how they feel this week.

I’ve played and coached soccer and I understand how hard it is on occasion not to trip another player when the ref’s back is turned or, if you’re wearing a blue jersey, take a dive to draw a foul (soccer fans know of which World Cup champ I speak!).  But you can’t – not on the pitch and not in business.  In the best of times, people want to do business with other folks they can trust and respect.  In times such as these, that desire is even more intense since there is far less room for mistakes.

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