5150 Business Strategy

Life in the Corporate Fast Lane and Still Remaining Intelligent

Archive for the tag “Hell”

Raider Nation – Early Adopters

cheerchristy

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Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 2

cheer4bEarly on I scored several major coups by enlisting the aid of various Raiderettes to the cause of Raider Nation. This drove the competition bonkers as they were driven insane by the very real speed by which Raider Nation was becoming the acknowledged leader for Raider fans on the Internet, and beyond. First they lost the coveted Raider Locker Room outlet by which the image and name of Raider Nation could be advertised daily through a brick and mortar outlet. Then they lost the battle for the very hearts of Raider fans when the Raider Nation moniker started to appear on the backs of cheerleaders – WTF, this is adding insult to injury. It was a brilliant execution of strategy aimed at making the Raider Nation brand well known and adopted as a symbol of Raider fans worldwide.

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Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 1

vellakat3OK, there may be several teasers to the real lesson of building brand identity. What is undeniable is that a product or service can fail or succeed based upon the image that consumers have in their minds.

In 1996 the internet was secondary to the traditional marketing channels that existed at the time – meet and greets with the cheerleaders!! What was becoming clear, however, is that the internet could spread news and photos on current events much faster and across a much more diverse geographical base. Instead of only fans in the San Francisco Bay Area being able to see the latest news in the local rags there was now the ability to spread this info across the globe. No one appreciated the impact of the internet in this area more than I did when it came to formulating a strategy which would propel Raider Nation to the pinnacle of success.

The photos shown here were all published on the Raider Nation website exclusively and I, in effect, became the official photographer for events that were taking place at John Vella’s Raider Locker Room. The Raider Locker Room and Raider Nation became strategic partners in spreading the Raider Nation brand. Traditional brick and mortar retail was still the predominant method of sales in 1996 but to sell to a global fan base the internet was becoming the preferred marketing and sales channel. The symbiotic relationship between most retail outlets and the internet is taken for granted now, in 1996 Raider Nation was on the cutting edge.

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Raider Nation Brand Identity – The Original Design

scdThese are the original draft designs from initial concept to final design which made it as the official logo of Raider Nation.

2013-03-17 16.59.44 (1)

I originally went to a t-shirt screen printer in Berkeley thinking where else would you go to get a far out wild design done the right way. Big mistake as it turns out they were good at concert graphics but simple sports designs were just not their thing.

From these drawings you can see the skull and bandana went through several iterations until it was done right. Once the design was finalized there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be popular. The design incorporated all the base attributes which Raider fans identified with – skull and crossbones, being a team for the nation, and portraying the rogue mentality.

2013-03-17 16.58.42So, these original draft designs document the true origin of Raider Nation as this became the iconic symbol for the website and all merchandise associated with Raider Nation.

2013-03-17 16.57.04

Because I Can

Tell me how we lost the $1.7 million settlement was the simple question that I asked over and over. The person stammered through several unintelligible answers but finally said the very fateful…….. “Because I Can”. Talk about the straw that broke the camels back!!! Finally, in those three words there was an admission that all the bad decisions and very questionable strategy boiled down to “Because I Can”. Really?

Why were there multiple trysts with government procurement officials… Because I Can

Why was there a million dollar plus loss on multiple projects and consistent profit fade on all the others… Because I Can

Why did we utilize subcontractors that went bankrupt and left us holding the bag… Because I Can

Why were projects underbid to the point where it was impossible to make money without resorting to unethical practices like stiffing subcontractors… Because I Can

Why were safety procedures and protocols not  strictly enforced to prevent unexploded ordinance from being sold to third parties unremediated and causing bodily harm… Because I Can

Why did the senior manager alienate very capable staff to the point that they left the firm… Because I Can

Why were there projects in questionable parts of the world where other firms went to die… Because I Can

Why were bonding companies not told the entire truth about problem projects… Because I can

Why were investors in other assets made to fight for what was rightfully theirs… Because I Can

Why do I focus on WIP when cash is the only reality… Because I Can

When it dawned on me that the investments made in this firm were subject to going poof because of this “Because I Can” philosophy it was time to head for the exit.

Time to cash in my chips and preserve what I could before the head pinhead pissed it away just because they could. Better to get out with what you could instead of sticking around waiting for the inevitable face plants that kept occurring.

There has been a continued brain drain from this firm as it becomes apparent to many others that the firms upper management lacks the ability to lead. It continues to have the self centered “Because I Can” mentality that has it on the Highway to Hell. Multiple lawsuits filed against the company with no end in sight. Correction, there is an end in sight – for the company as an ongoing entity.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until your investment in a firm goes to zero when it becomes apparent that you have placed your money on a losing proposition. Use the “Because I Can” philosophy to your benefit!! I left, Because I can…….

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Moral Compass

 

Can you really trust a senior manager who has no moral compass?? Who has no problem acting in an unethical manner both in their personal and business life? Those without a moral compass take the Adam Smith philosophy to extremes by acting in their own best cheatself interest to the detriment of all others around them, including family. Working for this type of management is just waiting for the hammer to drop on your head. I sat in so many meetings where there was a litany of pronouncements about how the manager wanted to screw over somebody because of some self centered logic. Didn’t matter if the terms and conditions were established at the beginning. All it took was for the situation to present itself for this person to benefit more if they made things happen a different way. Essentially, let’s look for ways to screw the other guys/gals out of what is rightfully theirs.

What should have made it a clear cut conclusion for me was the fact that the person saw no problem in having multiple “business” hookups on the side, if you know what I mean. Eyes wide open I stayed in the company but with a level of pessimism which served me well when I finally did leave. There was nothing the person could do which I had not anticipated, and I anticipated the worst given what I had seen over the years. Out and out lies about events that took place, digging up dirt when necessary, back dating documents, and convincing others to join in whatever the next grand lie was to be. The person was actually in their element when they were rounding up co-conspirators to spin things their way.

This manager took glee in being able to pull off the grand deception as it meant they got away with it once again. A serial hookup artist who you could not trust given it was a matter of time till you became their victim, but only if you allowed them to get away with it. I can imagine when I left the company the directive went out as it always did when someone left the fold – find me some dirt to use. How many times I had been asked to look at timesheets for perceived abuses, examine expense reports, and corroborate stories about events which never happened as the person described them. “You saw how they spoke to me!!! It was insubordination. Grounds for dismissal, let’s look for other reasons to terminate them.”, was the usual dialogue. All the while the senior manager went about rounding up the other stooges to do their bidding.

Moe, I want you to talk to George, Larry you talk to Ben about the deal on the investment. Tell them what a great deal it would be to take a third of the value of their investment. Yessiree, whatever you say. We got you covered as usual was the reply from Moe, he of the famous nickname, and Larry, he who scratches his nether regions. Ignore the fact that such a ludicrous offer flew in the face of the agreement made when the deal was first made years ago. Bwaa Haa Haaa, and then they had the gall to get upset because attorneys were called in to halt their imbecilic actions. That’s not nice after we have been friends all these years!!! Why can’t we all be friends? Let your guard down so we can screw you over like all the others, LOL – I don’t think so dragonlady. I can hear them now, “After all we did for him and he treats us like this”. Those who act like these senior managers really do not see their shortcomings as they are truly C level players. It is always someone else who is to blame. Some other cosmic curse of the universe which made them do what they did. Yeah, I don’t think so. It is called lack of a moral compass.

Playing out concurrently with the separation from the other investment some were trying to extricate themselves from stock investments in this firm. In another brilliant stroke the senior managers broke from the customary practice of buying out shares upon termination. Instead I can imagine the backroom machinations – let’s just not pay him for as long as we can, not at all if we don’t have to. We do have the “option” to purchase his shares, not the absolute obligation. They were smirking like Linda Blair in the Exorcist about how devious a plan they had devised.

Whoa, hold on a minute Skippy. What is this shareholder loan on the books. WTF, you mean he owes us more money than we do him for the stock! Bwaa, Haaa, Haaa call this checkmate mofo’s!!! Remember I told you I anticipated their worst possible moves – WTF, that ruined our entire grand plan. They were so predictable in all the actions they took. Predictable because they had done it to others over the years and gotten away with it. Their time was up.

Here is where the lies and deception got more exaggerated. What? We did not authorize any shareholder loan. This is embezzlement, we need to look at all the transactions over the years as I am sure he stole more. That’s when emails are produced where the senior manager was in the conversation regarding shareholder loans. Oh shit, how could he have this documentation that refutes our lies!! You mean we can’t lie at will knowing he can’t refute our contentions, LOL. So, they try the tact that we did not have a majority vote on this loan. Unfortunately they forgot that they NEVER took a vote on any major disbursement. Kinda blows your logic out of the water, nice try though. Again it was check and mate you numbnuts, you must think I am as stupid as you are, LOL.

NO MORE WIRE HANGERS – as the senior manager went over the edge once again.

Wait a minute, here are credit card charges for unauthorized items – now we have him!! Here we go – a charge for lunch with staff, office supplies, and some online services. These all seem suspicious to us and you need to pay them back. Really?? Wow, this is the best you can throw at me. Let’s forget about the senior managers through the years putting personal expense items on their business card conveniently using it instead of their personal card. Oh, I used the business card by mistake – it just flipped itself out of my wallet into the hand of the clerk, LOL. Yeah, I believe that the first time but when it is the 100th time you tell me that it strains credibility. More likely you are trying to cover your trail from a suspicious spouse if you ask me!!

Unfortunately, they forgot to read the emails sent to them regarding these expenses. I guess they thought they were unimportant, LOL. The emails documented every business expense in question and in the long run they had to run away from their accusations with their tails between their legs. Another victory for being one step ahead of these conniving bastards.

Lesson Learned: those lacking a moral compass see you as the next target, not as a valued compatriot in their evil doings. Never let your guard down.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

No More Wire Hangers

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As things started to spiral out of control at one firm the powers to be became increasingly unhinged. The typical reaction was completely expected, lowering “business” decisions down to a personal vindictive level.

No more snack boxes for staff, let’s discontinue employee benefits, and meetings with all key outside relationships will involve the unhinged senior management. The refrain was in line with No More Wire Hangers – it was No Lunches without senior management involved. “You will involve me in all meetings, in all discussions, and in all your potty breaks, LOL”. It became a comedy of epic proportions starring senior management.

Devious management will many times concurrently have secret discussions with outside counsel to lay traps or to circumvent legally established agreements with staff and business partners. None of this should be unexpected and every move that this type of management takes can be anticipated. No more wire hangers, indeed.

These types of moves are completely vindictive for this type of management as they do not like continual questioning of large losses being incurred by the firm or questioning their inability to formulate a cohesive logical strategy. The outcome of years of bad decisions finally coming to a head eventually leads to erosion of support for  a senior management group which continually teeters on the brink of failure.  Dysfunctional behavior common for this type company becomes too great to be ignored and competent staff leave before the ship sinks. What is left behind are the “C” level players who have risen to their highest level of incompetence and have no other place to go. They stay with a mother ship which protects the incompetent as the bar used to measure competency is so low they are seen as superstars. As the song goes, “I have been down so long it looks like up to me”. Without a doubt Moe, Larry and Curly are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Let’s look a little closer at some of the actions these types of companies take:

  • Snack boxes delivered on a monthly basis get cut as an employee perk. All is well until senior management decides to halt the deliveries under the guise of cost cutting. The cost cutting is asinine in the context of the larger issues that should be addressed. Ignore million dollar losses due to failed strategies but let’s cut a $75/month benefit to staff. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.
  • Likewise,  low cost term life insurance for employees is not seen as a benefit. It is the lowest cost benefit that can be included in a comprehensive benefit package. Senior management, for some ill conceived notion, believes these costs are unnecessary. Of course, when things become vindictive this is an area that senior management cuts. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.
  • The finance department is pivotal in the formation of banking and bonding relationships. Of course, senior management is always involved in discussions and meetings with key institutions. In what can only be described as selective memory, senior management becomes delusional regarding these meetings. Paranoia sets in, “You must include us in all meetings and communications”. Not a big deal as they always are. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.

Imagine a road trip with the bonding agents and this type of dysfunctional senior management. It would not be uncommon for things not to be disclosed to the financial or bonding agents regarding key projects and financial metrics heading in the wrong direction. The bonding agent might try to corner the finance guy repeatedly during these types of trips to get updates. The finance guy has to play the equivalent of hide and seek to avoid having a definitive conversation on the projects in question. The natural course of things transpire and with any luck the new bonding request will be rejected.  Not without justification, as firms like this that are not being forthright about bonded projects should not be allowed to continue with this bad behavior. Finance and Accounting should not be complicit in spinning a positive tale on projects that are being so poorly managed. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS

Recall from above that this type of senior management undertakes legal discussions and this necessitates radio silence over some period of time before they spring their trap.  This radio silence works against them in so many ways but is completely inline with the juvenile and vindictive manner in which this type of management acts.

Let’s say that the marketing person comes into your office wanting a signature for a new bid bond for a proposal in a far corner of the world. Would you not expect to ask the usual questions for these types of proposal bonds?  One, in particular, is whether the bonding agent is aware that the bond might be needed in this remote area by a certain date to meet a bid deadline. Let’s also say that the marketing person, being relatively new, is not able to answer the questions, and given radio silence by dysfunctional senior management,  up to date info on what was going on with the proposal is not available. Would it not make sense to go to the bonding broker and ask a question that is simple enough – are you aware of the need for this bond and could it be delivered on time? Second, are you up to date on the issues regarding the currently bonded projects? Let’s suppose the replies are Yes and No  – informing them that there were problems on projects that were being resolved is the proper thing to do, don’t you think? Not a big deal, or so one would think, but not when senior management has become completely unhinged.

Imagine the reaction of Joan Crawford to NO MORE WIRE HANGERS, LOL. Senior management can become so detached from reality that they regress even further into illogical and self defeating behavior. Cut off internet access, remove access to all company servers, there will be NO MORE WIRE HANGERS. Insanity can be unleashed and there is nothing to counterbalance the insanity. Senior management spun out of control. Paranoia reigns and what you might hear is – They are trying to get our bonding revoked, they are trying to destroy us, blah, blah, blah. Really? A simple call to make sure a bond will be delivered on time and clarify project status turns into collusion with the Russians, LOL. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS.

Needless to say, you should avoid getting to a last day at firms like this as they could be very eventful with the NO MORE WIRE HANGERS management – you could be taken out and shot. The repercussions could last over several months as further shenanigans by senior management takes place to prove Russian collusion, LOL. There must be NO MORE WIRE HANGERS – it is the height of groupthink and example of senior management not being in touch with reality.Stooges

Something learned over the years at these types of firms is that there is no such thing as transparency and, worse yet, honesty in how senior management deals with situations. Whatever you are told needs to be dissected to make sure there are no ulterior motive that are intended to serve only the select few at the expense of everyone else. This experience and knowledge will serve you well when leaving a firm like this. Being two steps ahead of your opponent and questioning their every move by not taking things at face value is the secret to success when dealing with these types.

Lesson learned: stay two steps ahead of those who are not transparent with their motives, it will serve you well in the final analysis. When management becomes unhinged you need to protect your ASSets by not taking anything at face value.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

It’s in the Delivery – Published August 2012

From the archives

Jim, it is not your message we don’t like but it is in the delivery. Usually this is said after the umpteenth time I have tried to deliver the message in the most politically correct way possible. This usually is followed by, “You just don’t understand the circumstances”. As if I had not delivered the same message, about the same situation, a million times before. No, maybe it is not me, but you, that needs to wake up and smell the roses, or usually manure by the time we get to this point.

Here is how it typically goes:

First time: Hey everybody, we better watch out for the cliff coming up – don’t you think? No one listens, over the cliff we go.

Second time: Hey everybody, remember last time we went over the cliff, wasn’t much fun was it? Let’s watch out for that cliff, OK? No one listens, over the cliff we go.

Third time: Hey everybody, I am really tired of warning about the cliff, think we can listen up this time and avoid going over? No one listens, over the cliff we go.

Fourth time: OK, YOU FUCKING MORONS I HAVE WARNED YOU ABOUT THE FUCKING CLIFF SEVERAL TIMES, NOW STOP FUCKING AROUND AND STOP!! Response: Geez Jim, no need to get upset about this and we really don’t appreciate how you delivered the message. Plus, you don’t seem to understand the circumstances that precipitated us going over the cliff previously. We would appreciate it if you would not speak to us that way.

No, I think I understand what the circumstances are – a complete lackadaisical attitude of management to address known problems in a proactive and assertive way. Therefore, the problem continues to cause havoc amongst the staff until someone has the wherewithal to question why we don’t change things. Of course, then you get the “you just don’t understand and we don’t like your delivery” speech. It is always flipped over on to the person raising the obvious as if they should just shut up and go along for the ride over the cliff – over and over and over.

I was asked once by a senior manager why I had to address a situation in such harsh terms. My response, because when I have raised the issue in subtle, but less direct, terms you don’t get it. These are the same people, however, who have adopted the attitude that the person raising the obvious is the problem versus the fact that nothing is done to address the real problem.

A classic moment was at the architecture firm that was trying to implement the new ERP system but did not have a clue they were headed towards the cliff. After several months trying to get upper management to see the impending cliff they hired a new IT manager who was charged with getting the mess organized. He delivered the “your delivery is a problem” speech which set me off on my usual response. It did not matter how the message was delivered – nice, slow, articulate, spelled out, in English, in French, with sugar on top, or laced with invective. Of course, the new guy coming in sees the delivery as the problem when the real problem was the inability of management to listen to the input they were receiving in an intelligent manner. Plus, they had succumbed to groupthink which immediately belittled opposing viewpoints.

Isn’t it funny that the delivery of the message is a sufficient enough excuse for people to ignore the obvious problem multiple times? It becomes the standard excuse for why managers continue to make bad decisions. Well, had he delivered the message to me better I would not have made the same mistakes over and over again – does that really make sense to anyone? Mediocre management relies upon this excuse as a crutch to justify their poor practices.

Lesson Learned: question management that uses delivery of the message as a sufficient excuse for bad practice, it never is. It is the ultimate straw man argument.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Vindication – ERP Nirvana

Vindication

Life has a funny way of making things right in the long run. Heading up a consortium of the largest architectural firms my final recommendation was at odds with the eventual failed choice – Lawson Software. WTF, how could anyone believe that software that, at the time, was predominantly in grocery stores could fit in the engineering/architecture space. I have expounded on this lunacy in previous posts so will not belabor the points again.

My choice was JD Edwards as it was a Tier 1 ERP system that was heads and tails above the competition, this was circa 2000 . Dial forward to 2015 and, lo and behold, the ERP system of choice being installed is JD Edwards. Granted this is the “new” Oracle JD Edwards but it still retains functionality that is above the competition for this market.

JDE2

I harken back to the days of doing a site visit to London in order to see JDE in an installed environment and how everyone was totally satisfied with the selection. Another site visit to St. Louis to see Lawson installed in a live environment where everyone was lamenting the need for a multitude of workarounds. Can you say cluster fu*k? Then coming back reporting the results to “senior” management who turned a blind eye to reality. JDE is not for us but this Lawson software is the cats meow. Who are you to come here telling us otherwise. This on the way to pissing $5.0 million down a failed implementation drain. LOL.

 Yes, things do have a way of working out………… and, yes, I believe in Karma.

karma

Raider Nation Brand Identity – The Original Design

scdThese are the original draft designs from initial concept to final design which made it as the official logo of Raider Nation.

2013-03-17 16.59.44 (1)

I originally went to a t-shirt screen printer in Berkeley thinking where else would you go to get a far out wild design done the right way. Big mistake as it turns out they were good at concert graphics but simple sports designs were just not their thing.

From these drawings you can see the skull and bandana went through several iterations until it was done right. Once the design was finalized there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be popular. The design incorporated all the base attributes which Raider fans identified with – skull and crossbones, being a team for the nation, and portraying the rogue mentality.

2013-03-17 16.58.42So, these original draft designs document the true origin of Raider Nation as this became the iconic symbol for the website and all merchandise associated with Raider Nation.

2013-03-17 16.57.04

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