You heard all over the news about cheating in sports and in schools (elementary, high school and college) the past few months. In business, there are many ways to cheat from changing numbers to under-the-table acquisitions. I bring cheating up because is cheating is a very loose term people use and to the point: everyone cheats…but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing.
I heard a segment on the Diane Rehm Show on kids are using prescription drugs to study for their exams and quizzes . Thought that’s an unfair but legal since it’s prescribe and they chose that risk. Then, I read the book, The Perfection Point by John Brenkus of ESPN Sport Science and in chapter four, discussing performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), Brenkus mentioned that caffeine is banned from sporting events but ordinary people use them at work (i.e. drinking coffee). Brenkus also mentions a key quote that technically, athletes can dope, but can’t exceed “the limit”:
So the objective for athletes isn’t necessarily to forgo artificial testosterone: It’s to see how much they can inject without going over the prescribed limits, which kind of makes the whole affair a little ludicrous.
At the workplace, there are two distinctions employees have to make: first, people and organizations push the boundaries. They do something they might not have done, but stay under control and within limits. Big data is an example of this.
The second distinction people have to understand is what cheating really is: abusing power. Power has responsibility and when it is under control, your influence is mostly positive. However, if you’re abusing power to gain yourself and the organization you work with, then that’s considered cheating.
It’s a distinction of bending the rules vs. breaking the rules. I don’t mind you find loopholes or putting a GPS to every person so they can track data on their daily habits. If it doesn’t violate any rules (in general or personal), then it’s fair game. You need to find every advantage you can get. The problem is is when they step out of bounds to gain an advantage like “fixing” the numbers, having an affair to get a deal done, and others that manipulates and alters the situation.
Employees need to think: do you want the glory with the fame, fortune, power, and notoriety, by any means necessary, but the lifespan of it is very short or do you want to get closer to the edge of a cliff to find every advantage you can take where you and the organization doesn’t sink? We have to remember: business is an unfair game, it’s how you play the game that matters.