Cheating...or Resourceful?

By Ron Rosenberg

We spend a lot of time searching out, testing, and recommending the best tools around to help you become more productive and effective in your work.

So you know I'm not averse to using tools to help solve thorny challenges when they pop up. But a situation in a recent program raised an interesting question about this.

If the room I present in is wired to accept audio from my laptop computer, I will play a "preset" list of upbeat tunes to set the mood for the session.

As people start coming in, I'll frequently ask them to identify the artist in the song that's playing - sort of an ad-hoc game of "Name That Tune." To make it interesting, I give out some of our CDs as prizes for people who get the right answer.

At one session, a song was playing that no one seemed to know, and then, a woman in the back called out, "I'm pretty sure it's Pat Metheny." - the correct answer. "Excellent!" I said, "And for extra credit, do you happen to know the name of the song?" She paused for a few seconds, and then said, "I think it's 'Third Wind'."

Wow - she nailed it! And then I saw a sort of smirk on her face as I noticed her looking down at her iPhone. At that moment it hit me. I asked her, "Are you using Shazam?"

With a sheepish grin, she admitted that she was. In case you're not familiar with it, Shazam is an app that "listens" to a song, searches an audio database, and then displays the artist, album, name, and even the album cover of the song that's playing.

"Isn't that cheating?" I asked her. She said, "I prefer to think of it as being resourceful."

It's a fine line if you ask me, but decisions like that are ones you have to make every day in your business and in your life.

My rule is that you can do almost anything if it's not illegal, immoral, or unethical. Your rule may be different, but it's important to have some guidelines on how you and your team will handle the "grey areas" that will inevitably surface in your business.

So to reward her for her resourcefulness, I gave her one of our CDs! What would you have done?