Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Expressing Your Concerns and Opinions Publicly

Former Company Bashing

But somehow it doesn't seem quite right for these high level folks to take vicious and very public parting shots at their former employers' leadership on the way out.  We all have our opinions.  Often they differ from those above us.  And sometimes the difference is severe enough to make us leave.  But you know what?  That's life.  Why can't we respectfully accept a difference of opinion and move on?    I suppose I'm naive, but this kind of public and one-sided bashing of a firm and of those entrusted to run it seems  needless and unproductive.

It seems to me that is exactly what is going on. Those companies are constantly pushing their position. I don't see anything wrong with former employees sharing their thoughts. Why is what they say considered "bashing." They are expressing their opinion. People can chose to pay attention to that person or not.  I hardly think one person's blog post is pushing around companies like Google and Goldman Sachs unfairly.  The only way there is any impact at all on those companies is if the comments resonate with the general public due to many other pieces of supporting evidence found elsewhere.  A crazy rant will not have any impact.  Expressing concerns about serious failures may have an impact.  Even then it is going to be pretty small.

Some people want followers that don't question authority. Leading high technology thinkers don't take kindly to the "follow authority" and don't question authority idea. Where this line is drawn varies, there is a certain amount of following that has to be done, and their is a point at which expressing a contrary opinion should be silenced.

In my experience the point at which contrary opinions are normally silenced is far too soon. I see nothing at all wrong with what these people said. I am very happy they did so. It is a very positive contribution to the discussion that should be taking place.

Finance people do see pretty comfortable with the model of shutting up, not ruffling feathers and cashing big checks. For that reason a Goldman Sachs former employee expressing their opinions that might make authority uncomfortable is a bit unusual.

I think silicon valley is perfectly comfortable with people expressing their opinions. And I think that is the right approach. If the person does take stupid parting shots they will damage their credibility. If they express sensible differences of opinion with the current practices of the company they left they will likely gain more respect than they lose.

Related:  Ignoring Unpleasant Truths is Often Encouraged - Taking What You Don’t Deserve, CEO Style - Respect for People

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