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October 28, 2008

Are the fundamentals really sound?

I have a philosophy on life. I believe that everyone is fundamentally a good person, and that, if left to their own concience, people are generally not out to do harm to you.

These are the fundamentals for my life, my career, and my hopes for the future. 

But I'm no Pollyanna. It's a competitive world, consulting is a competitive business, and you must be wary as well as smart in all that you do. So far so good.

But what happens when the fundamentals aren't sound?

What happens when you move into a corporate or national culture where everyone is out to get you. (And everyone else)

I have sen this "All for one and every person for themselves" attitude more often than most due to my travels. And it really challenges my faith in humanity.

When the fundamentals aren't sound - everything changes.

Traffic becomes a battle. Three lanes can be expanded to fit five cars, you can't rely on people offering to let you pass, in fact they will go out of their way to block you.

Contracts become incredibly long and incredibly hard to negotiate. 

Every conversation needs minutes of justification and explanation. 

Any form of humor needs to be very carefully thought through, and maybe even just left out altogether.

Every interraction becomes a point of suspicion.

But the worst thing about a distrustful society, (Corporate or national), is that it is contagious.

You find yourself pushing into cues instead of waiting peacefully. You find your own driving becomes aggressive and non caring. And you find your own approach towards colleagues sliding towards the "me first, me second and me last" attitude.

Maybe the problems you face are because the fundamentals aren't sound.

Is your company as ethical and honest as they should be?
Is your client "really" trying to help the project succeed?

And worst of all, are your own standards starting to fall as you try to fall inline with expectations around you?