“I’m serious”. “No, I’m not”. “Yes, I am”. “What ARE you really saying?” “Well, research has shown that people who exercise three times a week are twice as likely to die suddenly as people who exercise five times a week”. “Egg white has nutrients you don’t know about yet”.
Welcome to the strategic art of deception. Top leadership does it. Government does it. Academics indulge in it. Businesses say it’s essential. Needless to say, military forces do it. So it’s perfectly ok, right? As long as it does no harm to anyone. Especially me. Some other people might be adversely affected, but that’s one of those things. It happens and can’t be helped. I can’t be responsible for those freak incidents. When top leadership engages in deception, what do you think the rank and file does?
Hogwash. Yes, it would appear that everyone indulges in deception. Tactical, short-term deception and strategic, long-term deception. What IS deception, anyway? To put it in a nutshell, it is presenting falsehood with the intention of the recipient being led to believe that it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Put another way, deception is 99.9% truth. It is utterly incongruent with declarations of transparency and noble intentions. It is different from keeping things under wraps for security purposes. It is different from keeping trade secrets, although I do question the actual value of having industrial secrets. Far better to establish and sustain a culture that cannot be copied, I say. Far better to consistently and quietly work on your own business and not bother about what other people are doing. Of course, you still need to be familiar with what is going on in the marketplace and shop your competition, but you don’t need to react to every move they make, or every move you THINK they’ll make.
Well. So is deception ever justified at all? I say never. It is not so much whether or not your business will become more profitable when you engage in deception. It is that once you engage in deception, tactical or strategic, it gets into your culture and becomes something you “…wish you could disinvent…” You will find that it gets into the lifeblood of the company and deception will be found amongst the ranks of your own people. Is that something you want to have?
What if your company already engages in deception and already has a pervasive culture of deception within its ranks? Well, it would take a lot of time and effort to change the culture, but it can be done and it is worth doing. You might suffer some decrease in profits for some time, but it will turn out for the better in the long run. The choice is yours. You lead the way, whatever your position is.
Deception. Strategic? No. Not good at all. If you want greatness for your company, you need to be good. Good in all aspects, and I don’t mean “goody-two-shoes”. You will become great if you are good. Cease to be good and you will cease to be great. Strategic art of deception? No. Rather, strategic art of discretion. Strategic art of discernment. Do not be deceived, my friend.