Fire prevention or firefighting?
Matt, the top U.S. executive of a multinational financial corporation based overseas, read in The Wall Street Journal about a company that had used a series of investments to fraudulently hide debt. One of the transactions described in the article was familiar: his company had done a similar deal, albeit in a way that was perfectly legal.
Concerned that his company would be lumped in with those that had acted inappropriately, Matt pondered the bad press - not to mention a fall in stock price and even the loss of his own job - that could result. Unsure of what to do, he called on his third-opinion network.
First, he called an outside lawyer he'd known for years, one who had deep experience in financial transactions, and asked him to review what Matt's company had done. The lawyer verified that the transaction was above board.
Next, Matt called a public relations executive to air his idea of going to the press proactively to prove the company had done nothing wrong. The PR executive advised against it.
Finally, Matt called Dr. Saj-nicole Joni to talk through the possible scenarios. Together, they searched for analogous situations. they came up with one: firefighters who actually light fires to prevent bigger ones.
Matt opted to prepare a detailed response, in case negative press coverage materialized. In other words, he got ready to fight fire with fire. Fortunately for Matt, there was never a reason to light it.
Four signs it's time to seek a third opinion
1. I'm capable of this, but I just don't have time to think about all of it with the right amount of focus.
2. If I don't get this right, we'll be in serious trouble.
3. Even if I had the time, I shouldn't take on these issues alone.
4. I can handle this, but might I accelerate or enable significantly better results if I thought through my options with someone else?