Successful companies are built upon trust. Management trusts its employees to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. Employees trust the company to provide a safe and productive work environment. Customers trust companies to provide products and services with value and quality. But what happens when trust is broken? There have been many examples of businesses struggling or failing because of betrayal of trust. Volkswagen is the latest example.
Many car owners have trusted Volkswagen to build quality vehicles that are safe and reliable. Even though their vehicles may still meet those owner needs, the company has violated the world’s trust by installing software on their diesel-powered vehicles that would sense when an emission test was being performed and alter the vehicle’s performance so that it passed the test. Then when the vehicle went back on the road, it would switch back to it’s normal operating mode that provided better fuel economy and performance, but emitted as much as 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide. The company says that 11 million vehicles worldwide were equipped with the software that allowed them to cheat emission tests.
As of yesterday, Volkswagon’s CEO Martin Winerhorn seems intent to place blame on others saying it was the result of “the grave errors of very few” employees. I wouldn’t call this a grave error. It seems to have been a purposeful deception to skirt regulatory standards on diesel engine emissions.
Whether the directive came from the top or was the result of the “grave errors” of a few, the damage is done. Volkswagen is looking at billions of dollars in recalls and countries are lining up and consider fines against the company.
There is no room for this king of violation of trust in aircraft maintenance. We must do our best to instill a culture of professionalism and trust in our companies. There is no excuse to purposely hide errors in order to meet budget or time constraints. If you ever find yourself questioning whether anyone will ever catch what is being done, then you know the answer. Don’t do it!
Thanks for reading!