Power and control
It is an industry which epitimises power and control…it creates products of power and control…its leadership is about power and control.
The recent scandal at VW has revealed the dark side of this focus. An anthropocentric view of the world, willing to deceive to get diesel cars sold in America, to supersede the competition, to win and dominate at all costs.
Irony and dysfunction
The irony is that, as Whiteman points out, only ten days prior, VW was named by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the industry group leader for sustainability in Automotive and Components, with the now ex CEO Martin Winterkom saying “it confirms that the Volkswagen Group is well on the way to establishing itself long term as the world’s most sustainable automaker”.
And so to the words of Eckhart Tolle..”Are you polluting the world or cleaning up the mess?”. As he points out, “the more the dysfunction of the human mind plays itself out on the world stage, clearly visible to everyone in the daily television news reports, the greater the number of people who realise the urgent need for a radical change in human consciousness if humanity is not to destroy itself and the planet”.
In many ways, VW has responded in typical fashion – with Winterkom’s resignation. The new CEO Matthias Müller has come in, with the “urgent task to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation”.
I can understand the logic of such an approach. However, perhaps counterintuitive and risky, what if they took the alternative to this traditional reaction of damage control designed to sooth the market…and Winterkom stayed not out of denial or defiance but out of integrity?. To enable the real wound to show. To enhance the prospect of authentic, open and honest conversations to take place internally and externally.
As the poet Rumi wrote “the wound is the place where the light enters you”.
Arguably removing Winterkom reduces the appearance of the wound…and therefore the amount of light able to enter.
Perhaps true transparency can only come with true vulnerability, where there is a willingness to expose and engage with an undefended heart as opposed to the default of power and control. Müller does have a huge challenge – he has to create that space for deep reflection, deep listening and deep inquiry. To be willing to not rush to get answers and solutions. But to allow the hurts, doubts and worries to surface. And to allow sense making to occur. To have the courage to explore the failings of the company and look into the shadows that allowed such betrayal to people and planet.
The extent to which VW and indeed the rest of the automobile industry responds to this scandal and engages in exploring their individual and collective unconsciousness to create real transformation, will be when the rubber hits the road. The real moment of truth.
- Eckhart Tolle, E (2005), The Power of Now, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, London (quoted pages: 65 and xii respectively.)
- Ewing, J (23 Sept 2015), Volkswagen C.E.O. Martin Winterkorn Resigns Amid Emissions Scandal
- Hakim, D and Tabuchi H (23 Sept 2015), Volkswagen Test Rigging Follows a Long Auto Industry Pattern, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/24/business/international/volkswagen-test-rigging-follows-a-long-auto-industry-pattern.html
- Hotten, R (23 Sept 2015) Volkswagen: The scandal explained, BBC News http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34324772
- Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash