Exposure

ExposureI have just finished reading “Exposure – Inside the Olympus Scandal” which covers the journey by Michael Woodford from being CEO of Olympus, the Japanese imaging company, to the whistleblower who told the world about the financial, accounting and governance irregularities in the company.
Much of the book can be quite technical as it tracks the money. On the other hand it contains truths which can be carried on to many areas. For example:
“Sales is in large part pure hard work; in simple terms getting what you have to show in front of people. It’s a numbers game. The more people you show, the more you will sell. And just be pleasant, natural, honest and listen. We all sell ourselves all the time.”
More interesting (from the governance point of view) is this extract (originally addressed to the company’s Board of Directors):
“Ignorance is no defence. If you were there and not aware of it, then you were incompetent. If you were there, and aware of it without asking tough questions, then you were negligent. Either way, you need to leave.”
The last quotation explains, as well as any, the need for Councillors to be challenging. They are the equivalent of non-executive directors who represent constituents rather than shareholders and practice incompetent behaviour at their peril.

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