Guide To Military Business Ethics How to Navigate Successfully
Guide To Military Business Ethics How to Navigate Successfully. For years now the United States military has adopted an attitude of becoming more business like in its course of doing business whether with government contractors or working with Uncle Zeb’s Snake Oil and Coin company right outside the main gate to their various military bases and installations.
In the course of doing business over the last 7 years I have seen a growth of changes that appear to get rated at what I would define as a C- grade point average in terms of the attitude, honesty and integrity of those who have expressed a desire for products and services spanning from challenge coins to custom unit designs for military shirts and apparel. I am not proud to write this because I love our men and women in uniform but sometimes you have to express yourselves in a way to gain clarity and reach others who feel the same way we do: Integrity and core values need to be taken seriously again!
Where We Have Lost Our Way!
The generation of American we call the “Greatest Generation” were the sons and daughters of the American Depression. They knew and understood sacrifice and what it meant to not know where their next meal would come from. They had to burn their wooden fences to get enough heat into their homes so they would not freeze during the long winter months. They could buy a steak for 5 cents with all the trimmings but the only problem no one had 5 cents. They played outside in the Summer and they learned how simple life could be when its focus was just living without the distractions of television and consumerism, music that had no soul and might as well had been written by a computer, arrogant tattoo wielding sports professionals (when they start acting like professionals maybe we can then start labeling them as such) who are paid insane amounts of money, and were not constantly exposed to thousands of advertising messages on a daily basis. They worked as hard as possible to support their families, when work was available, and they knew that the core responsibility was to the family, their brothers, their sisters, their mothers and fathers. These children grew up to fight against Nazi Germany and the Empire Of Japan and quelled these world usurping foreign governments. And when the fighting stopped and they received their papers to return home they did so and they did the same thing their parents did, they worked, they loved their children and they raised their families.
When this generation of Americans did business they could do so on a handshake!
Where Are The Ethics Today?
Chasing the American Dream in my humble opinion has been shattered! As rough statement as it may sound we have all been giving our marching orders to chase the almighty dollar but in doing so we are losing respect for ourselves because we no longer ask the question “Are we doing it correctly? Are we doing it right? Am I acting morally correct?” Instead these respectable statements they have been replaced with “What do I get out of it?, “I am not going to promise anything!, Let’s take their art and work and send it to someone else and not say a word!, Oh I didn’t know I was copying your art? These morally reprehensible statements show a state of decline in the morality of business ethics in some corners of our military. Why are these questions stated here? Cause they happen and have been the reply to any number of questions often asked when trying to do the best job possible for a military unit coordinator or someone in need of services.
The bigger question as to why some members of our military act or think this way perhaps might be that they do not understand or do not know better. We cannot say for sure but someone needs to have their ass kicked now and again and get back on track acting with integrity verses this shifting of morality to let’s get by or screw them and try and not get caught concept.
Morality and ethics is not a highly populated college set of coursework but for those that missed that day in school here is a simple truth and to stick by this really is all you need.
“Do what you say and say what you do!” Even if the truth is harder than the lie take the high road and accept responsibility for your word and actions and expect the same from others. It is pretty simple.
Again our military has more responsibility than ever to interact with civilian businesses and has to navigate through a quagmire of red time both on their side of the house as well as the rules within the civilian world. Coupled with the desire to make a buck or save a buck and we enter into what has seen recently as the Wild Wild West!
Military units that seek out one company or another from challenge coins to shirts are faced with many obstacles. Who can get the job done? How do I know I am getting a good deal? Am I going to get screwed if I use these guys? How will this look when I get what I ordered?
These are all good and relevant questions. Sadly the person on the other end of an email may or may not know what they are doing, is looking to do whatever it takes to get your money, may not be able to deliver the quality they advertise or cheat by stealing the art and graphics of another company and advertise it as their own. This plus some people who copy off the internet a piece of artwork they like and send to a company who did produce it and ask them to copy opens up another Pandora’s Box and ethical storm of controversy.
Many companies that do not possess integrity will copy any art that comes at them from any direction and could care less if it belongs to someone else. This in simple terms is called stealing! It is also called copyright infringement and don’t think for a second you are harmless and not impacted. You are!
They have no right to produce it and when they accept it and print with it they are putting our military in harm’s way because they will throw you under the bus the first chance they get claiming that you took responsibility of its ownership when you sent it to them in the first place. Believe me its not worth losing a stripe over it, getting gigged or having the IG call you for a sit down.
Working in an ethical manner is easier than it might seem and it really boils down to simple communicating. Be better than the rest and communicate with the business you intend to work with. Ask questions. Learn and work together because collaboration will produce the best results. Below is a short list of time saving ideas for producing the best results when working with outside companies that are interested in working with you.
1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate!
2. Be prepared to finish what you start.
3. Is it your artwork? If you found it on the internet and it’s not yours then locate the company that produced it. They might turn out to be able to produce what you are after faster and at a reduced cost since the art is already done.
4. Copyright infringement is unethical. Don’t do it. Think about it and then think about it again. Copying some else’s art leads to controversy and pitting two companies against one another and throwing you into the middle of an avoidable situation and setting into motion a series of actions all that result in unpleasantness for all concerned. Don’t put yourself in the middle of a firefight. Avoid it and do the right thing. If you like the art don’t copy it. Ask for permission to use it or ask the company to provide a quote. This is the right thing to do.
5. Cost is one thing but quality is something completely different. Savings does come at a cost. Let’s face it. You want to save money? Sure. But don;t think for a minute that just because you are saving 50 cents on a shirt for your unit it means you are getting a good product. Often it means you will not. You wouldn’t think twice about spending money on a 5 dollar cup of coffee but you will complain about spending 50 cents more on a custom designed military shirt that will last you for years. Think about.
6. Go with quality over cost every time! It is actually less expensive to get quality if it means your fundraising is successful or the likelihood of selling all the items is improved verses having left overs still sitting in a box a year later. Who wants that? No one.
7. Don’t run away with the sketch! Taking the art down the road and stopping all communication with the company you contacted to have work done is unethical. Remember you contacted them and saw value in what they do. Let them complete their work and get it done correctly and above board for you. They are there to help so let them do what you asked them to do. If something comes up and you don’t understand then simply ask questions and communicate!
8. Remember the demands of art and production are not a simple thing. Dates can change, art can take time and really good art can take longer so be patient and keep the lines of communication open!
9. Above all things if your intention is to kick a tire and try something out and you start a project then be prepared to finish it! This isn’t about getting one over on someone else. It isn’t about getting a quality product or getting something for nothing. It is about acting and behaving as adults and working together to get the very best and crossing the finish line together successfully.