Asking for Forgiveness

Shawnee Love   •  
July 8, 2011

It happens all the time in business when a CEO goes and implements a decision that is beyond what the Board directed. CEOs often figure they have a better understanding of the business than the Board because the CEO is in an operational role and the Board only has a governance perspective. With the CEO’s elevated opinion of himself, instead of seeking buy in prior to making the decision (asking for permission), the CEO comes back after it is done, justifies the decision to the board and half-heartedly apologizes for not checking first (asking for forgiveness).

This kind of “ask for forgiveness” behaviour drives Boards of Directors crazy because it undermines the role of the Board. If it happened at any other level in the organization it would be called insubordination, but in the complex relationship between a Board and the CEO, it is merely destructive.

If we assume that the Board & Shareholders of British Columbia are the people of BC, it is no doubt they have every reason to feel undermined and mislead.  There is a large proportion of the constituents who want to vote to go back to the old way just to show the BC government that they can’t get away with asking for forgiveness.

The reality here is BC is beyond pregnant. The PST offices have been closed, the workers disbanded, severance paid, and the PST rule book tossed.  Mr. Campbell is happily on his way to the UK in a new job that sniffs to me of patronage (perhaps for his good work in getting in the HST?) although that is my opinion only and I have no grounds whatsoever to back that opinion up.  He doesn’t care whether we vote “Yes” or “No”.  There is no going back to the old way without spending crazy amounts of money to start up the PST offices again and possibly paying back a significant chunk of change to the Federal government, money we can ill afford in BC.

To me, voting “Yes” to go back to PST & GST is biting off our nose to spite our face, because we are impotent to punish the person we are mad at. A vote “No” keeps the HST, but at least it will reduce to 10% before 2014, we keep more money in BC’s pocket and we don’t have to spend the money to undo what we just created.

In business, the Board can punish CEOs who ask for forgiveness, by firing them or publicly delivering a set down, but rarely can they undo the CEO’s decision in a fashion that won’t hurt the business.  I think the people of BC face the same situation. I hope we are wise enough to see it.