Denying Reality

A scant two hours after the report of Ken Lay's death hit the wires, I received a press release offering me the chance to talk to the head of a management consulting firm who could lend his insight about how CEOs get fired because they can't face reality. In the words of the press release, "Lay's death may be the equivalent of a child sticking their fingers in their ears to avoid hearing something bad. But a lot more final."
Putting aside what seems to be a crass attempt at humor, this consultant-cum-pop-psychologist then attributes Lay's death as an extreme example of a CEO "Denying Reality." Fortunately, said consultant has "some interesting thoughts on the demise of Ken Lay and how others can avoid his fate."
Now, while Lay's actions with regard to Enron are completely indefensible, I find it utterly tasteless to use someone's death as a jumping off point to tout your client's expertise in management consulting. It's one thing to use timely news events to your advantage—indeed, it shows there's a brain behind those email blasts—but there is a line. Where have you seen that line get crossed? Do you think this is one of those cases?

Add New Comment

7 Comments

  • pikle

    I find it oddly untimely as well...and would have preferred to see him rot in jail...but the real problem is bigger than that pawn Lay...it's UNACCOUNTABLE, AUTHORITARIAN STRUCTURE that's the real problem. It provides an EXTREMELY secure framework for scumbags like Lay to operate within. So how has the structure been altered to prevent the incident from reoccuring? It hasn't, so is holding very few people responsible the solution? You think it was just THESE individuals that were crooked and caused the demise...please. The framework allowed it to happen. Show some nuts and go after the real problem...not some petty derivative.

  • jfarley1

    Uh, does anyone else find this 'heart attack' extremely suspicious, or the fact that his and the church secretary immediately came out with statements? My thought was he decided to check out early because he couldn't stand the thought of prison. Guess we'll never know for sure.

  • roger fulton

    Lay is dead, and I wouldn't speak ill of the dead. Sadly, this reminds me of some of the real estate people in NY who read the funeral notices to see if they can jump on the rent controlled properties first.
    Odd I should think of that, but I do. Yeah, some people will do ANYTHING to push a sale, won't they? I drew the line, years ago, and was pushed by several hotel owners that I worked for. Funny how clients remembered ME personally. The odor follows ME, not my boss, or the brand, but ME.
    I only did it once, and when I learned that, I stopped it.

  • Bill

    "Tasteless", "Completely lacking in common decency", and "I would *never* do business with this person" are my immediate reactions to such a sales pitch. Sadly, it will probably get him some business.

  • Mike

    Tasteless is right.

    On a somewhat related note, though, I wonder if Lay's death has robbed us of an opportunity to see how seriously (or not) "white collar crime", albeit on a massive scale, is taken in this culture. I for one would have liked to hear his sentence.

  • joseph p

    Utterly tasteless is exactly what Ken Lay was and exactly the treatment he deserves posthumously.

  • Eric Pennington

    Tasteless is putting it mildly. I wonder if he or she realizes that their part of the problem? In other words, "I'll do anything to make a sale."

    Greed, greed and more greed!