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Fixing Business by Lord Digby Jones

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Chapter 2 Where the Battle is Being Lost: Fixing the Reputation of Business

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

—Warren Buffett

What Is Wrong with the Reputation of Business?

It is hard to think of a time when the reputation of Business was worse than it is today. It is disastrous, and it really matters.

Perhaps the first thing to say is that Business and its leaders can be their own worst enemies. Often there is too little leadership, or Business is too quick to focus on profit or process, apparently at the expense of customers and wider society. There are very few Business people who would not consider themselves as being professional in what they do, yet one very good definition of a professional is someone who puts the interest of their client or customer ahead of their own. I would suggest that this is a definition that would not suit too many Business people. It is understood by the general public almost subliminally and respect is the first casualty; teachers many years ago and, more recently, junior hospital doctors fell foul of this loss of professionalism in the public's eyes and their standing has never recovered. Business, sadly but too often deservedly, is seen in the same light.

Undeniably, and perhaps surprisingly, Businesses are sometimes slow to announce progress or success, partly because they may worry about putting their head over the parapet, partly for competitive ...

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