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Actually I've always rather preferred the Navy's approach. If you're Captain they court-martial you no matter who was directly at fault. If the ship grounds and you were in your bunk asleep you still get a Court.

On the other hand Warren is actually being benignly disingenuous for the most part. You really owe it to yourselves to read the letter. He's apologizing for a couple of errors that could result in $BBs of profit in the long-run.

You also need to read the letter aside from it's pithy macro obs and critiques but for the lessons in general management over a wide variety of businesses.

Dave Brown

I wonder how much the threat of legal blowback prevents some of these fat cats from pronouncing their own failures. It might be more noble for them to admit mistakes, but could it also be opening them up to scores of lawsuits? I'd like to hear an expert in corporate law comment on this....

Rod Johnson

I have to wonder, whose script was manufactured by their PR guru, and which one's were their own. My guess is, Buffet's comments were his own words. Maybe this is why we admire buffet, even when he admits he screwed up.

Leadership Lesson: Lead with your own words.

CV Harquail

No wonder that Buffett's biography is on the NYT Best Seller List (The Snowball, by Alice Schroeder). Maybe as part of getting bailout-stimulus-recovery funds, top executives should be required to read Buffett's biography, just to be reminded that there are other ways to approach bad business situations.

I had some fun with the connection between taking responsibility & future business success over at , in posts about how "Taking Responsibility Can Be Good for Your Organization" and "6 Reasons Why Taking Responsibility Can Be Good For Your Organization" and I wish that the conversation about responsibility were more sustained.

I do believe that taking responsibility is important, yet I see how our inability to distinguish between responsibility and blame makes it hard(er) for executives to acknowledge their roles. Not that this excuses executives...rather, it points out just how unskilled we are in our business culture with accepting and acknowledging responsibility in bad times as well as good.

Thanks for keeping the issue alive.


It is sad to see that lately integrity is not part of the required characteristics of business leaders. Candor, humility, and some of the other features that describe a superb leader are rarely to be found in large corporations.
It may be too late for large corporations, but startups and mid-markets still have a chance to break the trend.

Michael Sporer

One word sums up Warren Buffett: Integrity. We all make mistakes, but admitting fault then following up with something actionable tips the scales. WB is indeed a high-class individual.

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