Posted by : Amanda Stein Sunday, September 27, 2015

The news of Volkswagen's deceit has sent a shock wave through the automotive industry. It is news that has stunned, surprised and disappointed Volkswagen and Audi owners around the world. This is news which will most likely take far too long to be forgotten. 

On a very grotesque level, we have become accustomed to automotive makers sending out products which are defective, cutting corners, and invoking the possibility of death to consumers. Just this week, another announcement was released from automotive maker Hyundai for stalling engines created from metal debris. Just weeks following announcements from Honda for faulty airbags.

So what can we learn from all of this?

The Corporate Structure Isn't Working

Countless meetings, countless memos, countless emails....communication is the key to ensuring everyone is on the same page. In the same sense, with so much information flying around, is it really possible to expect for one person to fully comprehend and be aware of every last piece of information for a company? Companies have to begin the process of downsizing to be able to provide a better level of customer service, technology and product to ensure the minimization of scandal from lack of communication between management and staff.

Employees Just Can't Be Trusted

While the results of the investigation into Volkswagen's 'defeat device' are still unclear, one thing is certain. In corporate America, employees are expected to produce results, even at the cost of integrity and honor. People are inevitably bound to fail. It's who we are and what we do. No one is perfect. In an organization that relies so heavily on others to be their eyes, hands and ears, with no thorough evaluation of each action, there is far too much of a chance for something to be overlooked or for corners to be cut. 

Branding & Advertising Disconnect

In reading through many of the articles discussing this topic, one subject is always repeated; Volkswagen advertised this vehicle as a car specifically designed to emit lower emissions....and it was a complete fairy tale. Did any of VW's employees stop for even just a moment to think of the consequences for allowing their company to falsely market their product? Consumers used the TDI diesel as a model for environmentally safe cars, even, at times, choosing TDIs over hybrid vehicles. For those who chose this route, how can there be any expectation for forgiveness toward Volkswagen anytime in their near future? Only time will tell.

On one end, this is a very sad situation. It is a tale we hear far less because the tragedy of a lost life is not at the forefront of this issue. Instead, it is from out the outright deceit of the governments enforcing EPA laws and for the consumers who put faith into a brand. Even more tragically it has created a tarnish on a brand which has been built to be known for excellence and reliability. 

As the days of this investigation unfold, we'll learn in more detail of the steps involved to create this outcome, but in the meantime, one thing is certain, there is time when a business outgrows its ability to maintain quality and assurance of product. As a business owner, you may someday face this decision. What is more important to you?  

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