Chapter 1: My Corporate Idolatry Part 3
When I remembered the phrase “you need to do what is best for the company” I was suddenly uncomfortable. The moment lasted a long time. Idolatry is the worship of a statue or a false god. I don’t worship statues or… I remembered my company’s brand logo. That symbol was displayed in practically every room of every building of the company, including in Europe, Asia and South America. It was on every piece of paper. It was on some of my favorite clothes. Trying to reassure myself, I thought about the nature of a corporation. It didn’t help. A corporation is an artificial person as recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States. It’s a formless and shapeless entity. There are a lot of them, and they have different cultures and values.
I thought about the time I was scolded for an innocuous suggestion to embed the brand symbol in as one part of a cool graphic in a marketing piece. It kind of puzzled me at the time. What’s the big deal? But it was a big deal, like an unwritten commandment. THOU SHALL NOT MESS WITH THE BRAND SYMBOL.
It’s like an idol, I thought, and when we do “what is best for the company,” instead of “what is best,” we are worshipping, giving blind obedience. I also realized that we only used that phrase to justify something unpleasant, like a canceled project, a layoff or shipping a product that wasn’t ready to go, knowing the customers were going to be mad.
All of this took less than a second. I describe it sequentially, but it all arrived at the same time. There was more.