What Makes Business Work? The Little Things.

I hear all too often this really dumb joke: “Business Ethics? Isn’t that an oxymoron?” No, in fact, ‘business ethics’ isn’t a contradiction. Business just isn’t possible without some kind of ethics, some kind of reason to trust each other. Do unethical things happen, in business. Yes, sure. But those instances simply must be the exceptions that prove the rule. Of course, it’s easy to take for granted just how many little details of commercial & professional life require us to simply assume that other people are going to do what they say they’re going to do. Here’s an example.

From the Vancouver Sun: Lawyer’s embarrassing antics are a drain on public purse

Vancouver lawyer Sheldon Goldberg has appeared in court while the wrong accused was in the dock as his client.

He recently precipitated a mistrial causing months of expensive court proceedings to be thrown out the window.

Yet for two days last week, a Law Society of B.C. disciplinary panel considered judicial complaints only about his apparent overbooking of court time and his refusal to properly reply to the provincial regulatory body’s inquiries.

Suspended for three months over incompetence last year, Goldberg has been a thorn in the side of the legal system for a long time. He was also suspended for a month in 2005.

Goldberg is in regular conflict with judges, and Provincial Court Judge William Kitchen triggered these latest proceedings.

In July 2007, Goldberg made arrangements for three conflicting court appearances in Surrey and Vancouver on the same day.

I don’t have any particular point of view on Mr. Goldberg’s behaviour, or of the Law Society’s apparent inaction. My aim here is just to point out how much a system like the legal system — or any business — takes for granted, in its everyday operations, that people are going to do simple, straightforward things like keep their word, show up when & where they say they will, etc. And to point out that when people simply stop doing so, things tend to fall apart pretty quickly.

Thanks to JD & JB for pointing out this story.

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