Unintended Damage in Business and Geopolitics
The record of human rights in China today is abysmal. From the Amnesty International Report 2007:
An increased number of lawyers and journalists were harassed, detained, and jailed. Thousands of people who pursued their faith outside officially sanctioned churches were subjected to harassment and many to detention and imprisonment. Thousands of people were sentenced to death or executed. Migrants from rural areas were deprived of basic rights. Severe repression of Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region continued, and freedom of expression and religion continued to be severely restricted in Tibet and among Tibetans elsewhere.
Now various organizations and individuals with single-issue agendas are making noises about boycotting the 2008 Olympics in order to punish China for its human rights record. Among them so far: Republican members of congress spearheaded by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Governor Bill Richardson, Senator John Edwards, French politicians, Global Human Rights Torch Relay, International Campaign for Tibet, US Campaign for Burma, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG.org).
What would be the net effect of a Beijing Olympics boycott? Would the possible positives of such a decision outweigh the unintended damage?
In business, snap decisions are dangerous. How dangerous they can be is illustrated by massive gaffes in judgment by governments in the world of geopolitics—in particular, the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
When a Test is not Possible
As readers know, I come from the direct marketing arena, where freelancer Malcolm Decker’s dictum is inviolate:
In direct marketing, two rules—and two rules only—exist. Rule #1: Test everything. Rule #2: See Rule #1.
When it is impossible to test, it is imperative to go through two exercises before making a decision:
(1) Study everything available on the subject and reach back in memory (and your files) to draw on experience and common sense.