Is management good enough in the West Midlands? Is it good enough in Britain, for that matter?
Dangerous questions which business executives tend to shy away from. They have plenty of opinions in private, but don't dare voice them in public.
Why? In part it is herd loyalty - they don't want to blacken the name of people they have to rub shoulders with and they fear the potential repercussions.
Suddenly the phone calls and the invitations dry up.
Business colleagues begin to look embarrassed when you meet up. Guilt by a thousand wagging tongues.
And there is also the case of - there by the grace of God go I.
Who, after all, is so confident in their own abilities that they know they cannot improve?
Scratch the surface of business society and you just may unleash a demon.
But now John James, new chairman of the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands has done exactly that.
He is seeking "an improvement in the quality of directors in the region".
He went on: "I am specifically targeting the financial institutions, the banks and the venture capitalists.
"I want them to think harder about who they appoint to represent their interests on company boards. They need to look at candidates' qualifications much more closely."
And Mr James has gone further, saying things which under the old pals' act you just don't say.
"I think we all recognise that too often appointments have been based on somebody's time served in an industry, their high profile or even because they play at the right golf club."
Good old Fred. Pretty useless businessman, but a decent sort. One of us.
The trouble is that of late there have been some spectacular examples of management incompetency.
Not so much non-executives, which Mr James' comments were aimed towards, but the guys making the real decisions.
And of course MG Rover is top of the pile. The conduct of John Towers and his cronies has been widely condemned, and rightly so.
People shouldn't be able to walk away after trousering millions having let down thousands of ordinary workers and blowing a massive cash dowry.
The Department of Trade and Industry inquiry is going to be fascinating reading when it eventually comes out.
The trouble is that Britain doesn't exactly have a plethora of brilliant, dynamic managers.
Yes, there are lots of people out there doing a solid job in often difficult circumstances.
But the average shelf life of a top boss at a Stock Market quoted company is not long and failure, sometimes scandal, is all too common.
Richard Branson, Lord Browne at BP...but they don't exactly trip off the tongue.
I have long argued that management standards in Britain and indeed the Midlands aren't good enough. It is big problem for the economy of this country.
Improving, but not good enough.
Must do better.