Denis Waitley, once said, “You must consider the bottom line, but make it integrity before profits.”
Indeed integrity has always topped most company’s mission statements and is integral to daily operations. In recent times, especially since the advent of internet, it seems that integrity has been compromised far too often. Because there is now a wealth of competitive companies easily accessible via the internet, there is no need to accept anything less than the best in terms of products, services and company’s integrity.
Perhaps like me, you have taken advantage of the amazing deals offered by Groupon.com. I am always surprised at the number of people who have taken advantage of the daily deals because the count seems so high; turns out I was wrong; the number reported is actually deflated.
On Monday, Groupon released a statement stating that its deal counter will no longer accurately reflect the total number of Groupons customers have bought for each deal. Instead of displaying the actual number of Groupons purchased, the company will display an imprecise count that has been reduced by between 0.5% and 19.5%.
Its daily deals service is amending the counter’s language to reflect the company’s new policy on intentional ambiguity. In essence, Groupon’s own deal counter is now intentionally and “consistently incorrect.” Sound strange? I thought so too and wondered, “Why?” The change, as Julie Mossler, Groupon’s director of communications indicates, is to discourage people from guessing the company’s revenue because such speculation could negatively impact Groupon’s IPO success.
Their decision begs the question, does deflating the deal redemption count compromise the company’s integrity? Certainly inflating the number would. In my opinion, the ‘fudging’ of a company’s stats- positive or negative, does in fact compromise the company’s integrity. After all, transparency is essential to a company’s integrity because it embodies honesty and open communication. Like trust, transparency is all about the flow of information and impacts the ability of the buyer to have full access to accurate information, not just the information the sender is willing to provide.
Modifying any stats compromises credibility and trust in addition to integrity. The decision to deflate its deal counter was made at a less than ideal team based on the company’s recent track record. Earlier this year, Groupon delayed its IPO, ran into trouble with the SEC for its accounting metrics and lost its new COO to Google after just five months. It is also facing two class action lawsuits. Such upheavals only thwart the public’s trust and damage a company’s integrity.
Buckminster Fuller once said, “Take the initiative. Go to work, and above all co-operate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. ..”
My bottom line (literally and figuratively)- Groupon would be well served by following his advice.
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Photo courtesy of Groupon