November 1, 2006
Skilling's sentence falls short of delivering
Ex-Enron executive Jeff Skilling will spend his next 24
years in prison. He stole hundreds of millions of dollars
while costing Enron's employees and investors billions.
Will his incarceration deliver justice?
Justice is defined as fairness, evenhandedness, honesty
and integrity. Is it possible to "make things right" for
all who were harmed by the criminals at the top levels
at Enron? Probably not! Justice is unlikely given those
The real harm is separate from the penalties to be paid.
To some degree, those who are hearing prison doors
slam are a reminder that legitimate business priorities
need to take center stage or integrity will suffocate.
Companies built to last are different from those simply
created to generate immediate returns.
Enron turned out to be a giant shell game, a sophisticated
scheme that fleeced multiple stakeholders with little
regard for the future. Its investors, suppliers, customers
and employees all suffered because of mismanagement.
It's time for a change! Jeff Skilling heads to jail and
society scurries to find positive business leadership
models. From the movie, "Field of Dreams," we
are "remembering what once was good and could be good again."
A successful 61-year-old entrepreneur from India, N.
R. Narayana Murthy, was quoted in the Sept. 20 Wall
Street Journal saying, "Great companies that
are built to last hundreds of years require a foundation that goes beyond revenues,
profits and market capitalization."
He even refers to Gandhi's maxim: "Be the change in the world you want
For organizations to achieve longevity and impact, they
- Reach out to society and build goodwill, providing
opportunities regardless of social and economic circumstance.
- Strive for operational transparency, because the
softest pillow is a clear conscience.
- Establish and communicate values, listening to the
ideas of others - especially younger people.
- Maintain meritocracy with competition and courtesy.
- Benchmark against competitors, continuously improving
speed, accuracy and profitability.
- Embrace a global economic system with production
machinery that leverages technology and communication,
24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Hold fast to fundamental values and remain vibrant.
Integrity suggests we can "be the change in the world
we want to see."