Local connection: losing focus on the problem - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

July 30, 2010

Local connection: losing focus on the problem

Sometimes someone says something that seems minor on the surface, but signals a real problem. In 2007, when Tony Hayward became head of BP, he said he would "focus laser-like on safety."  Safety problems persisted.

When that rig exploded and fouled the Gulf of Mexico, Hayward said he'd like his life back, betraying his indifference to the enormity of the spill. Well, he's got his life back - he's out as CEO.

Then there's Goldman Sachs, which paid $550 million to settle charges it defrauded its own customers. Internal emails, using coarser language than I will, said some investments stank. Goldman's reaction: to order its traders to stop using coarse language in internal emails.

My friends, Goldman's problem wasn't that its traders said investments stank. The problem was, they did stink. It's okay to be mindful of PR. But never lose your laser-like focus on deeper problems.