Chapter Summaries

Part 1: The Challenge

Chapter 1 - The Naked Truth
This chapter introduces the book by describing the Kumbaya Syndrome that exists in many companies - a disease that discourages people from expressing their opinions openly and honestly for fear of being perceived as non-team players or trouble makers. We point out that there are significant advantages for any organization that chooses to replace this syndrome with a culture of Absolute Honesty. These include increased competitive advantage, a more productive workforce, consistent leadership, and improved employee morale. A culture of Absolute Honesty also lowers the odds that its leaders will end up in front of a congressional committee pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Chapter 2 - A Culture of Absolute Honesty
Like the water in an aquarium, corporate culture is the medium in which everything occurs. This chapter gives you the tools to assess your own corporate culture and create strategies to increase the amount of honest communication and open dialogue that occurs every day. Combined with a clearly defined set of ethical values, such a  culture tends to breed better managerial decisions, produce higher productivity, and improve employee morale. We also provide a powerful tool for managing the pain of any cultural change.

Part 2: The Six Laws of Absolute Honesty

Chapter 3 - Absolute Honesty Law #1: Tell the Truth
The worst truth always beats the best lie. If you always tell the truth, the odds are high that:

  • You'll do the right thing
  • It's rarely as painful as you think
  • You'll pay a higher price for lying
  • You get it behind you (whew!)
  • You keep things simple

Of course, being honest is sometimes very difficult, so we wrap up the chapter by discussing the Eight Great Fears of Telling the Truth and how to overcome them.

Chapter 4 - Absolute Honesty Law #2:Tackle the Problem
M. Scott Peck, author of the Road Less Traveled, said that we only solve life's problems by solving them. This law gives you a six-step, proven tool for resolving differences of opinions and tackling tough interpersonal problems. We call it "Constructive Confrontation." We show you how to practice Constructive Confrontation and how to shepherd its practice into your company's culture.

Chapter 5 - Absolute Honesty Law #3: Disagree and Commit
Based on a concept developed at Intel Corporation and other high tech firms, this law says that it's important for everyone in the organization to speak up and express their opinions, even if those opinions are unpopular. However, once expressed, everyone is expected to support the final decision and not whine about it - unless the decision is unethical or illegal, in which case, you are expected to escalate the discussion to the next level. We wrap up the chapter by offering a three-part model for dealing with, and overcoming whining, moan-festing, "lipotaging" (giving lip service to a decision and then sabotaging it), and other forms of passive aggressive, quasi-demonic behavior.

Chapter 6 - Absolute Honesty Law #4: Welcome Honesty
It is human nature to become defensive when we feel attacked. When we react defensively to receiving feedback or hearing unwelcome news, communication becomes distorted and the truth never sees the light of day. In this chapter, we discuss eight common defense mechanisms and provide techniques for setting them aside in order to allow genuine conversations and candid discussions to flourish.

Chapter 7 - Absolute Honesty Law #5: Reward the Messenger
Killing the messengers who bring you bad news will ensure that you never hear bad news until it's too late. In this chapter, we explore the many subtle, and not so subtle ways that we kill messengers. We then provide a Manager's Code of Conduct that will raise the odds that people will trust you enough to tell you the truth.

Chapter 8 - Absolute Honesty Law #6: Build a Platform of Integrity
In 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after ingesting Tylenol Extra Strength capsules that had been laced with deadly cyanide. Johnson & Johnson, the owners of Tylenol, survived the ordeal with an improved reputation and a return to market dominance. Ten years later, Sears Roebuck & Company was wracked with scandal when many of its auto centers were caught cheating customers. Sears suffered significant damage to their reputation and loss of market share. The difference? Throughout the crises, Johnson and Johnson remained true to a well-established ethical credo (what we call a platform of integrity) while Sears did not. In this chapter, we show you how to establish such a platform of integrity and offer you Five Leadership Practices that will help you lead your organization to abide by it.

Part 3: Where Do We Go from Here?

Chapter 9 - Create an Ethical Infrastructure
IBM, Weyerhaeuser, and Thomson Multimedia supplement their ethical tenets and platforms of integrity with well-organized infrastructures that provide specific guidelines for ethical business practices. The system is supported by someone at the top, preferably the CEO or a Vice President, who leads the effort to maintain the highest possible ethical standards. In this chapter, we show you how to set up and maintain such an infrastructure.

Chapter 10 - Key Points to Help Your Implementation Efforts
This chapter summarizes the book in a heading by heading format that enables you to review all the salient points. Learning theory research has shown that such a review raises the odds tremendously that you will be able to take advantage of the wealth of ideas and techniques this book offers you.


RW & Associates, Inc.