It’s just not cricket

Bob Hunt

April 12, 2018

Bob Hunt is chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services

Like many I suspect – particularly those who wouldn’t consider themselves huge cricket fans – I have watched the Australian ball-tampering saga and its fall-out unfold with a mixture of part fascination and part incredulity. The naivety and brazenness, or perhaps stupidity, is quite frankly shocking.

To say it goes against everything we might define as being ‘cricket’ goes without saying, indeed if it hadn’t already been invented many moons ago, you might think the phrase, ‘That’s not cricket’, could have been tailor-made for such an incident. Behaving with integrity, with honesty, with a sense of decency and fair play is the cornerstone upon which trust is built.

Clearly, those involved have now been punished, their regret at being caught matched by the 9/12-month bans they’ve now received. Of course it’s not the first time such cheating has been carried out, but what leaves an even worse taste in the mouth is the fact that two very senior players decided one of the team’s most junior players should be the one to do it.

There are some obvious parallels between sport and business, and watching on, one can’t help feel that those concerned have got their come-uppance, and that a ‘win at all costs’ mentality (in the end) isn’t worth pursuing and is likely to leave you with serious problems, when the chickens come home to roost – or in this case when the cameraman catches you putting sandpaper down your pants.

It would seem the Australian cricket team has had this problem for a number of years – indeed the coach himself suggested that they need to change their ‘culture’ and attempt to make friends, rather than be happy to make enemies of everyone they come up against us.

To me, it seems like a common-sense approach but I acknowledge that (within business) there are many people who would not agree with it. Over the years I’ve met many business people whose raison d’être wasn’t just to be successful but to ‘win at others expense’, getting their kicks more from beating a competitor rather than running a fair and profitable business themselves.

For such people, perhaps ‘doing the right thing’ was never a concern, but this ball-tampering scandal seems to reinforce the importance of choosing the right path. Of course, in the mortgage market, we have a regulatory structure that should lead us to making the right choices, and it’s obviously important to have such a framework to stop decisions which impact negatively on employees, clients, etc, however there’s a lot to be said for businesses/management, etc, having a moral compass or culture that doesn’t allow questionable decisions and behaviours to be made.

Of course, we have TCF and this is an important principle because we deal with customers who do not have the same knowledge as we do, and are effectively putting key decisions in our hands. But then there’s the importance of treating employees fairly – not for instance asking junior ones to do ‘dirty work’ on our behalf – and creating an environment where they like working, are not put in potentially compromising positions, and are not exploited in order to make a profit.

Obviously, making a profit is important but, in my view, it’s not always necessary to chase the maximum profit in every single activity to a point where you are compromising your own, or the business’, moral compass.

There’s much to be said for doing ‘good things’ because you want to do them, and acknowledging that your decisions don’t just impact on you or your family, but within a work environment they impact on your employees, your customers, and indeed all other stakeholders. We are not angels – who is? – but for the vast majority of the time, we can be on their side, and we can act morally, and treat others how we would wish to be treated ourselves.

Without wanting to sermonise, here endeth the lesson.

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