Goofus and Gallant Make CRM Decisions


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For those who may not be familiar with Goofus and Gallant, the Highlights Magazine feature contrasts how two children—Goofus, who is bad, and Gallant, who is good—make divergent ethical choices when faced with the same set of circumstances. The text is presented as captions below simple drawings that illustrate the action. (A quote from a 1960 Highlights: “Goofus turns on the television when there are guests; whenever guests arrive, Gallant turns off the television at once.”)

Reading Goofus and Gallant is a great dose of reality on days when I’m feeling totally ethical. I always ask myself “What would I do?” While I don’t think I’m as flagrantly selfish as Goofus, I’m clearly socially and ethically maladjusted next to Gallant’s consistent kindness, thoughtfulness, and sense of fair play.

What if Goofus and Gallant outgrew their permanently juvenile forms and became grown-up executives faced with contemporary ethical decisions? How might they decide when they aren’t guided by flowcharts, formulas, and sophisticated software, but rather when answering the question, “what is the right thing to do?”

Here are some examples:

“Goofus believes that only frequent passengers on his airline have the right to expect good service. Gallant believes all passengers are entitled to a good flying experience.”

“Goofus markets his products as ‘green’ even though he buys many materials from unregulated offshore factories; Gallant only sells products that meet rigorous standards for responsible environmental stewardship.”

“Goofus licenses his company’s logo to other companies whose practices and motives are unknown so that he can make an extra profit; Gallant values the trust that his customers place in his company.”

“Goofus uses direct mail to circumvent regulations so he can get senior citizens to accept telemarketing pitches; Gallant complies with the FTC’s vendor guidelines for no-call lists.”

“Goofus saves IT costs by not updating infrastructure and information security software; Gallant believes the privacy of his customers’ transaction information is a strategic priority.”

“Goofus optimizes his personal exit strategy when making CRM decisions; Gallant thinks about what’s best for his employees and customers.”

As sales, marketing, and business development professionals, we have at our disposal unprecedented power to create positive outcomes for many people, or to turn that power toward tactics that exploit trust and erode value. The overwhelming majority of the decisions we make are not constrained by laws and regulations. Even if Gallant’s decisions represent an unattainable ethical purity, isn’t it worth asking “what is the right thing to do?”


  1. Regarding Yahoo, Tom Lantos said “While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies.”

  2. On May 19, The Washington Post reported that Margaret Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, rated the efforts of entertainment companies for complying with the Institute of Medicine’s urgent alert against childhood obesity, issued in 2004 as a “D-minus.”

    She said “Most entertainment companies have agreed to limit the use of their licensed characters on foods of poor nutritional quality. However, those policies do not apply to other marketing by the companies.”


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