The story behind the scenes (real world vs. marketing)

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ontario concrete awards
Guests at the Ontario Concrete Awards banquet

Last night, I attended the Ontario Concrete Awards, an annual event at the Buildings Show in Toronto to commemorate concrete construction achievements (in this case, quite literally).

It was a great evening, and Concrete Ontario deserves to be commended for putting on the event — and we will recognize the award winners in a special feature within Ontario Construction Report’s January issue.

Awards indeed can be great marketing opportunities, but unfortunately I cannot share details about at least one story behind the story here, which puts a different light on the evening. (I’m caught in the requirements to respect confidences, and my general policy not to speak negatively about individuals or specific businesses in this blog.)

But the information I gathered reminds me that all the marketing you do can be quickly undermined by how you actually conduct your business and complete your work; with a related appreciation about power — and the ability of people and organizations at the top of the power pecking order to play the game unfairly and arrogantly, causing problems, tensions, and overall failure all-around.

Of course, generally no one will issue press releases about their incompetence or misdeeds.  In some cases, these can be papered over with plenty of cash (or the prospect of future cash) or with threats and extortion (including the possibility of never getting any more work in the future from the offender.) Litigation often is used to either silence an opponent or to extract money — and the wrong-doer could be the one starting the litigation process.

Sometimes the truth is aired or at least the controversies become public. For example, recent developments in the Uber/Waymo lawsuit show some of these processes in play. But most of the time the real story often remains untold.

But we should never forget the power of underground communications and first-hand experience. You can paper over problems and sometimes cover up serious difficulties, but you cannot change the actual experience of anyone who experienced things when they went wrong.

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