While I was driving to work today I observed that if I followed the road rules, there were people behind honking their horns, forcing me to break some rule, otherwise they were also being held up because of others overtaking, the wrong way. Similarly, in business if you follow the rules you’re bound to be left behind, and there will be many who would like you to join them in taking a short cut. This is because the environment in Sri Lanka promotes unethical corporates to get ahead of the ones who are governed properly.
Another common feature on our roads is people in trishaws, motor bikes, maruties and other small cars squeezing thru other vehicles. They think that the white lines on the roads are just designs. They can’t go faster than the proper vehicles but think that they should be in front leading the pack. Similarly, in the business world we get small service providers who ‘mushroom’ from nowhere and then start cutting corners and creeping thru governance cracks in companies to challenge professionally established corporates, with low quality, under priced work.
Then there are the bus drivers who think that they own the roads. The rest of the vehicles have to show some aggression to get ahead in all this fracas! This reflects our business world. Even if your Board has a few directors who want to adopt good governance practices, there will be others who want to be aggressive and use political influence to get ahead.
Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? So you swear either way, depending on who gets in your way. In business, if you take a risk and it fails, you’ll be called a gambler. If you don’t take high risks and thereby the business goes down, you’ll be called useless. This is mainly due to lack of governance procedures and practices being engrained in people and the culture does not support honorable behavior. Lack of respect for female drivers has made some females drive like maniacs, too! This change will get into business and our society at large, sooner or later.
Finally, this enormous driving challenge that is facing our society today can be used as an opportunity for strengthening the community and the business environment. Supportive driving styles can help us make peace on our streets. Due to such hostile behavior on the road, more and more people will be tempted to slide into these dangerous forms of behavior. Unfortunately, this gets into our normal lives and also to business. Corporate behavior also slides into mutual antagonism. Instead, we can express mutual support on the roads and develop good road manners, thereby reflecting good governance in business too!