Don't Deceive. Lessons From Scott SchaferBy: John Honovich, Published on Mar 20, 2020
Deception is bad. We can learn some important lessons from Scott Schafer, a key player in the problems of Pelco, Arecont, and SIA.
Earlier this week, Schafer spoke happily on a SIA call in the midst of the ISC West disaster. It reminded me of 3 incidents and 2 lessons.
Back in 2016, we found out that Schafer's company Arecont was being removed by Google in favor of Axis. So I asked Schafer for comment on this, to which he retorted:
We do not normally address queries like this one. Your information is factually incorrect. We recommend that you check your sources more fully. Consider getting a real quote from a reliable source from Google or Axis Communications vs. street talk and rumors.
Now, executives reading this: If you give an arrogant answer like this, you better be 100% sure that you are right.
Schafer lied. He knew he was lying but did it anyway. He bluffed badly.
Unfortunately for Schafer, I did indeed have an internal document from Axis that confirmed exactly that. When I made that clear, Schafer said "Do not quote me in your article" and then falsely tried to claim his response was off the record.
In September 2017, at ASIS, I walked up to Schafer and asked him how things were going at Arecont. He said things are good. I then asked about a list of senior people leaving Arecont and Schafer merrily dismissed it as business as usual. It was a bit stunning, even for Schafer.
But perhaps the funniest was a few years before all of that when Schafer offered to give us free Arecont 101 training. In his mind, the fact that Arecont did so poorly in our tests and was the worst-rated camera over and over and over and over again was somehow a lack of training of us or the myriad of integrators that Arecont had burned.
Lessons - Don't Deceive
The first lesson I would offer is don't deceive because of ethics but this is business and if you are 60 years old, you are not going to learn that now.
Here are 2 other reasons:
One, you can get caught. Even if you do not care about ethics, you should care about people finding out. Most executives, thankfully, try to minimize their deception, even if simply for fear of being caught.
Two, the most important practical reason is that when you try to deceive others you succeed in deceiving yourself. And then when your house is on fire like at Pelco, Arecont, and SIA, instead of focusing on how to put the fire out you smile and say "This is fine."