5150 Business Strategy

Life in the Corporate Fast Lane and Still Remaining Intelligent

Archive for the tag “Insanity”

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.

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Stranger in a Strange Land

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.. Or Adios Losers

The best part about banging your head against the wall for years is the fact that it feels so good when you stop.

The magnitude of the issues became clearer the longer I remained at one firm. Continually trying to bring about constructive change was met with such resistance from upper management that the best solution was to exit before the inevitable face plant took place.

With twenty twenty hindsight it is evident that the better decision may have been to let this firm implode from their bad decisions years ago instead of propping up the bad mistakes and poor project management. Looking back there is no doubt that upper management lacked the self awareness to see that they were the problem and, therefore, allowing them to continue on only propagated bad management.

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The glue that held the firm together over the years was the finance/accounting function by continually working the banking and bonding relationship in a positive manner. This in spite of the consistently poor project management and estimating.

Such a weight was lifted off my shoulders when the decision was made that the situation was beyond repair – it was FUBAR. You had senior management discussing personal likes and dislikes inappropriately and taking exception to staff performance for no other reason than because they may have been more attractive than some senior manager cared for.  One of my biggest regrets is that I participated in the lunacy for as long as I did and allowed, via silence, this inappropriate behavior to go on for so long.

What became clearer as time went on was that the founders of this firm were completely incapable of managing not just the firm but, more importantly, their personal life. As my beliefs diverged more and more from those who sought to “lead” this firm it became even clearer that I could no longer support the insanity. What was insane you ask? Let’s obsess on the WIP calculation as if there was a WIP God that would bar your entrance to heaven if it was off. Of course, forget about the fact that the estimate was whacked to begin with, that no one updated the already whacked estimate as the project progressed, and the fact that the senior managers did not have a clue what WIP represented. This for projects that were already bid so low below breakeven that you had no chance of making enough margin to cover the firms overhead. Then having to sit in meetings where the fearless leaders of the firm would wonder why they could not make any profit. Please put a gun to my head and put me out of my misery. 993B7CBD-B3F6-4781-B668-62014D6746A3Talking to this group was akin to speaking to a group of remedial students except for one big exception – that being that remedial students had a hope of comprehension, LOL. This group believed so completely in the righteousness of their wrong minded ideas that they would go down in flames believing in them. They firmly believed the earth was flat even though all evidence pointed otherwise.

63778A36-C55E-4596-935B-37F47A46BBF1More disturbing was the cover-up that senior management engaged in once the jig was up. “We expected you to tell us we had a $3 million hole to crawl out of!”. “It is your job to let management know when we are going sideways”. REALLY?? Pull up the last 100 emails that went to your numbnut asses regarding the need to remedy the estimating procedure or the need to close unprofitable regions.  Oh, I get it – you didn’t read those since they did not fit your reality but NOW you want to issue a revisionist telling of history which basically states that you were never made aware of these issues! Wankers.

Early on at this firm I treated the original shareholders with deference given they had invested sweat equity into starting the firm. Over time, however, this deference was removed when the dysfunctional behavior and poor management made it impossible to support such behavior. It was not uncommon that new staff would fall prey to the whims A6A222AB-8F97-4156-83B3-7B22168A8CCBof senior management and their juvenile behavior. Going with the flow was impossible unless one wanted to condone unacceptable trysts and borderline illegal procurement practices. The refrain became “well that is just the way management is” or “don’t they know how badly their actions reflect on the firm”. For me deference to such poor management was no longer an option. Chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was no longer an option as I came to realize there was no pot of gold, only an outhouse of manure.

 

 

Lesson learned: when you are on a ship of fools it is never too early to abandon ship.

 

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.

Raider Nation – Ken Stabler Interview (Originally posted 2013)

During the reign of Raider Nation I had several “beat” reporters who were conducting interviews with players and management of the Oakland Raiders. It was a heady time as it gave me direct contact with some of the most influential people in the Raider organization – past and present. Below is an interview that was done for Raider Nation in 1998 with Ken Stabler:

With long hair flowing out of the back of his helmet,    quarterback Kenny Stabler, number 12, embodied the renegade Raiders during the 1970s.Known somewhat undeservedly throughout his career for his propensity to party,    Stabler never let his reputed off-the-field exploits overshadow his heroics on Sundays. He    was the leader of pro football’s bad boys, a team featuring the giant defensive end with    the handlebar moustache, Ben Davidson; combative linebacker Phil Villapiano; eccentric but    talented tight end Dave Casper; and the University of Mars graduate, defensive lineman    Otis Sistrunk. These great players and their Raider teammates enjoyed a good practical    joke, a few competitive card games and a couple of cold beers during the week, but they    lived for Sundays, when they were actually paid to play a game they truly loved. On game    day, these players, including the team’s All Pro quarterback, were all business.With accuracy equaled by only a couple of quarterbacks in the history of    the NFL, Stabler picked apart a defense with perfectly timed passes to his favorite    receiver, Fred Biletnikoff, before tearing out a defense’s heart and soul with a long bomb    to speedy wide receiver Cliff Branch. Every Sunday, the former University of Alabama    quarterback used the weapons at his disposal — Biletnikoff, Branch, Casper, et. al     — to create offensive masterpieces, much like Picasso used different paints to create    a classic. Stabler’s canvas on Sundays was the football field, where he led pro football’s    most-feared offensive attack.The fact that Stabler threw for more yards, completed more passes and    had the highest completion percentage of any quarterback in the history of the Raiders    should have guaranteed him a spot in the Hall of Fame. But it didn’t.

After throwing for 19,078 yards and 150 touchdowns and compiling a    winning percentage with the Raiders that was among the best in the history of the NFL,    Stabler should be in the Hall of Fame. But he isn’t.

His flawless performance in Super Bowl XI against the Vikings in a    dominating win should have elevated him to Hall of Fame status. But it didn’t.

Have the same anti-Raider biases that encouraged officials to overlook    opposition fumbles and penalties for decades permeated into Hall of Fame voting? How else    can one explain that the field general for one of the NFL’s greatest teams, the 1976    Raiders, isn’t enshrined in Canton?

Raider Nation Journal‘s Randy Shillingburg recently talked with    Stabler about his omission from the Hall of Fame, and the Immaculate Reception, Sea of    Hands and Holy Roller games.

Raider fans, enjoy this conversation with one of the team’s all-time    greats:

* * * * * * *

RS: What are you doing now? I read    that you’re going to be doing some work with the University of Alabama as a radio    announcer. What else are you doing?

KS: Of course, the radio work    we’re going to be doing with Alabama. I did television for a while, and got out of that by    choice. I didn’t have the real passion for it. Because it’s the University of Alabama, I    want to get back closer to that program. And like I said earlier, expose my children to it    so that they can see where Dad played college football. As I said, I’ve got an old    Victorian house that was built at the turn of the century, and we’re in the process of    putting together a package to develop a piano bar concept — a coffee house type    concept — here in Mobile. It will serve as the base for me and what I do. I’ve been    real, real busy, doing a lot of traveling, and doing a lot of sports marketing events. I    do a lot of corporate work. I’ve been real busy, the schedule has been busy. Things are    going well.

RS: Are you having fun?

KS: Having a blast. I always have,    and it’s just getting better and better. I think the reason for that is my children. I    think the best thing that’s happened to me in an awfully long time is my kids, being with    them, getting involved with them and watching them grow, and communicating with them. It’s    been just absolutely wonderful.

RS: Was the ’76 team the best    Raiders team you were on?

KS: I suppose it has to be because    of the result. I mean, the result was the Super Bowl. That’s the reason you go in there.    That’s the reason you play is to get to that game and to win that game. We went 13-1, and    we beat New England in the first round of the playoffs and we beat Pittsburgh in the AFC    Championship Game, and then we beat Minnesota in Super Bowl XI in the Rose Bowl in    Pasadena. I had good personal numbers, and a lot of guys had great numbers. That’s the    only way you can get there is for everyone to have good years, to play well and to stay    healthy. To answer your question: Without a doubt, ’76 was a really good football team.    But it was the same guys who were on the ’74, ’75 and ’77 teams also. We were a really    good football team who just happened to put it all together, and got the right breaks and    stayed healthy, and we got good years out of our people that particular year.

RS: In my column last week, I    mentioned something about “You know you’re a true Raiders fan if someone mentions the    words, ‘Rob Lytle,’ and you cringe” a little because of the fumble in the ’77 playoff    game that wasn’t called.

KS: Well, we had an opportunity to    go, you know, to repeat. Not too many football teams have been able to repeat the Super    Bowl. It’s awfully hard to get there once. To repeat is even tougher. We had that    opportunity and we went right back to the AFC Championship Game in Denver and Rob Lytle     — I guess they said he fumbled and it wasn’t called. It was one of those things. You    get some of those breaks and sometimes they go against you. You have to play through that,    you have to win regardless of the officiating. You have to win regardless of the injuries    and you have to win regardless of the turnovers. You just have to find a way. That    particular day we weren’t able to find a way to get it done and as a result, we didn’t get    to repeat, but we came awfully close.

RS: At what point in the Super    Bowl against Minnesota did you know that you had that game won? How early in that game did    you know?

KS: Well, I think we were really    confident going into that ball game because of our team and you look at the matchups with    that team. We understood that we were a much bigger and stronger team and probably we had    a little bit more speed than they did. When you went through the AFC West at that point in    time, when you played Denver and Kansas City and those teams that were very, very good,    and then you had to go play Pittsburgh in the championship game. When you did that, you    were pretty much battle-tested for anybody you wanted to play. We felt really good playing    Minnesota, going into that game because of our size. Our offensive line matched up really    well against their defensive (line). They were really an undersized defensive line with    Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page and those people, so we felt good. But to answer your    question, I think probably — you know the football bounces funny and anything can    happen. When you have Chuck Foreman and Ahmad Rashad and Sammy White and Tarkenton and    those people, that’s a dangerous team. But to answer your question: probably, uh, late    third quarter, early fourth quarter, you feel pretty good and you’re up. Freddie    Biletnikoff caught a real deep down and in type pass. The safety missed an assignment or    something, and he (Biletnikoff) breaks it down inside the five.

RS: I remember that.

KS: I can remember saying to    myself as I watched (Biletnikoff) run, and they tackled him inside the five — I    remember saying to myself, “That’s it. It’s basically over.” I don’t know when    that happened. I think that might have been late third or early fourth quarter.

RS: How good was Biletnikoff,    first of all, and, secondly, what was that pattern that you two worked to perfection? It    was perfect timing. He ran downfield, faked to the inside, drove off the defender, broke    to the sideline and the ball was right there.

KS: Well, Freddie was a great,    great player. I mean, his numbers speak for themselves. He’s a Hall of Fame player. If you    get into that situation, that institution, you’re ranked among the greats of all time. I    think he is that, and I think that he did it with a little less ability than most. I don’t    think he was as fast as most. He wasn’t as big as most, and he wasn’t as strong as most.    But he had a tremendous heart, and was a really smart player who understood what people    were trying to do to him. He had a great, great set of hands, and he knew what people were    trying to do to him. He was a smart player and he was just a great, great    “money” player. When you look back, and you look at the games he played, he    always stepped up when there was a lot of money on the table, when it was a big game, and    it was a big match up against Denver or Kansas City in the division. You look at the AFC    Championship games, and he was the MVP in the Super Bowl that we played in. Anytime that    you had to win, anytime that you needed big plays, and there was a lot of money on the    table, riding on the game, then Freddie always played well. He was a great, great player.

It was a real privilege to have a combination of receivers – a    tremendous possession guy like Freddie to make big plays on third downs, a tremendous    tight end in Dave Casper, who worked the middle of the field against linebacker and    safeties and that sort of thing, and then a little guy with tremendous speed on the    outside in Cliff Branch. (He was a) 4.2 type of guy, a 4.2 (seconds) 40 (yards), a guy who    could fly. So, you had all of the tools. The play that you talk about, the pattern that    you talk about, that Freddie ran so well: We had a couple of them when the ball was thrown    on the outside. We had a real deep comeback route where he would run, push the guy off 19,    20 yards, and come back and catch the ball at 15, 17 yards. And then we had one where he    would break to the inside and get the guy turned to the inside and break and go back to a    corner. This was called the “short corner.” And he ran both of those things to    perfection because he had tremendous ability to cut and stop on a dime. He could cut sharp    patterns and that sort of thing. He was fun to play with.

RS: (Laughing) You know, I    actually remember him dropping ONE ball.

KS: (Laughing) Well, you know,    we’re all gonna drop one, we’re all gonna throw an interception, we’re all gonna do that    sort of thing. That’s something that he certainly didn’t want to do. You’d never say    anything to a guy who drops one. He wants to catch it as bad as you want him to. I always    remember him as being a great, great clutch player.

RS: He certainly didn’t drop many,    did he?

KS: No he didn’t.

RS: Anytime the ball was near him,    he just snagged it right in. If you were faced with a third and one in a Super Bowl, the    last minute of the game, and you had to hand the ball off to somebody to pick up that    touchdown running the ball, who would you prefer to hand that ball off to?

KS: We had guys that specialized    almost in that sort of thing. They were very, very good. First of all, we were a good    short yardage team because of a tremendous offensive line. You know, when you run the ball    behind Hall of Fame players like Art Shell and Gene Upshaw on the left side, and a 10-year    center in Dave Dalby, and George Buehler was just a real horse, and John Vella was just as    tough as a nail, and a really good pass blocker and run blocker. We had good people to run    behind. And when you run the ball with guys like — Pete Banazak was the smallest of    the bunch, from a fullback standpoint, at only about 220, 218, but really quick off the    ball (and) smart. (He) understood blocking combinations and that sort of thing, and knew    when to cut back and when to make his move. He was a smart runner. And Mark van Eeghen    was, you know, a little bit bigger at 225 pounds, 226, 228, somewhere in there, but really    quick off the ball, and really hit the line awfully fast, and was really good at that sort    of thing. Mark Hubbard, 6-2, 240 — much bigger than the rest of them — tough,    big legs, and big determination, a lot of heart. We had guys – any one of those three    on third and one — you felt really comfortable in handing them the ball.

RS: I loved to watch Banazak play.

KS: Well, he was a smart player.    He was an undersized fullback. Like I said, he was only 215, 218, something like that. (He    was a) good cutback runner, good, smart runner who understood the blocking combinations on    the play that was called and knew what to look for, and he was kind of our short yardage    guy, our third and one, third and two guy, or inside the five-yard line, third and goal,    second and goal — that sort of guy. He was very good at that because of his knowledge    of the game and because he was really quick off the ball. He had a great start.

RS: Let say you had the same type    of this situation, say from seven or eight yards out. Who would you want to pass the ball    to, Biletnikoff or Casper? Which receiver would be your preference in that situation when    you had to get that pass caught?

KS: You know, I was fortunate to    have a group of guys. You don’t go into the game saying, “I’m going to throw the ball    to this guy; I’m going to throw the ball to that guy.” You go into the game saying,    “I’m gonna let the defense dictate where I throw the ball.” And you have to have    the whole set of receivers, and we did. Like I said earlier, we had a possession guy, a    big tight end for the middle of the field, and great speed on the outside. (As a clutch    third-down receiver, there was) nobody better than Freddie Biletnikoff. There were very    few tight ends any better than Casper. And Cliff had so much speed that they played so far    off of him that you worked things in front of people with him. We threw the ball to all of    those guys in all the situations. We were really fortunate to have a great offensive line    that gave you the opportunity and the time to do that sort of thing. To be able to throw    the ball to great, great receivers, you can do some damage.

RS: Most people don’t remember    this about your career, but you were the quarterback at the end of the game in 1972 in the    Immaculate Reception game. You actually ran it in. What was it, 30 yards out? You    scrambled and ran it in to put the Raiders ahead 7-6. Is that correct?

KS: Yes, that’s correct. I came in    (during) the second half. Daryle Lamonica started the game, and I played the second half,    and Casper came in and played. It was really his debut when he got to play and catch some    balls. He and I hooked up. It was really the start of our relationship as    quarterback-receiver. Yeah, they came on an all-out type of blitz, where they bring all    the linebackers, and they bring a safety, and somehow you get outside of that, you    scramble outside of that, and there’s no one out there because all of the cornerbacks and    the safeties have all run off covering receivers. There’s nobody there. And so I ran the    ball in and we scored, and we went up 7-6. And then Pittsburgh got the ball back with a    minute and four left. And then Bradshaw goes incomplete on first down, second down, third    down. Fourth and 10, and he throws the ball over the middle and Frenchy Fuqua and Jack    Tatum get there simultaneously and the ball ricochets off one of them and Franco catches    it jogging along, and it’s a weird, strange set of circumstances. It’s one of those plays    that will live on forever. It’s one of those plays that every playoff time and during the    year, you’ll see it replayed over and over on TV. It’s just a wonderful play to be    remembered as a really unique set of circumstances in that game. You know, it was not good    for us because we lost and they basically picked our pocket. But for a game to be    remembered off of one play, I don’t know if there’s any better than that one.

RS: One of my favorite players on    the team, defensive end Tony Cline, missed Bradshaw by inches on the pass rush. I was    growing up in northern West Virginia and I listened to the game on KDKA radio out of    Pittsburgh. The game wasn’t even televised in the area. It was just devastating. I    couldn’t even watch it. I had to listen to it on radio! It was certainly a memorable game.    Later on, it seemed as if you were in some memorable games that turned the other way: The    Holy Roller game, the Sea of Hands game. What was your thinking during those great plays?

KS: The play in San Diego when I    threw the ball out there on the ground — it was just a common sense type play, that I    think most quarterbacks would probably have made. I think it was third down. I think there    were 10 seconds or eight seconds left, you know, probably not enough time to get off    another play. The common sense school of thought is, “Don’t get trapped with the    ball. Don’t get sacked.” I mean, if you get sacked, you lose. Interception, you lose.    Incomplete pass, you’re probably going to lose. So, you can’t let those things happen. So,    coming out of the huddle, you say to yourself that very thing: “Don’t get trapped    with the ball. Don’t take a sack. Sack, you lose.” So when the guy got to me —     he was a former Alabama linebacker named Woodrow Lowe — and Woody Lowe got to me. In    the course of the sack, (I think to myself) “You can’t get sacked with it. Roll it    out there. Roll the damn thing out there and shake the dice, and hope that something good    happens,” and it did. Pete Banazak dove at it and knocked it down inside the five,    and Casper kicked it into the end zone, and fell on it. You know, it was just another one    of those plays that will always be relived forever when you’re talking about wild plays,    crazy plays, crazy finishes. That one just happened to bounce our way.

RS: (Laughing) You guys caused    more rules changes. The “not being able to fumble the ball forward,” the    “use of stickem” rules. You kind of stretched the rules a little bit, and then    they changed them on you.

KS: Well, that’s probably a good    rule. It was a good reason to change the rule. It keeps people from doing that very thing.    The last play of the game, if you don’t think you have an opportunity to get another play    off, you just throw the damn thing up in the air or roll it out and hope something    happens. You know, it’s probably not the way the game should be done, so they make that    rule change. It’s a common sense play that I think most quarterbacks would have made in    that situation. Just throw the damn thing out and the football bounces funny and maybe it    will bounce your way. And it happened to do that.

RS: The Sea of Hands was the    “John Vella play,” isn’t that right?

KS: Well, John Vella’s guy,    basically John’s man forced me to do what I did. Vern Den Herder was the defensive end for    the Dolphins. I think he beat John on a pass play, and he beat him to the outside or the    inside, I’m not sure. He forced me out of the pocket and I started to run, and he    dived at my legs and tripped me up. In the course of falling down I threw this    end-over-end dying duck back into the corner of the end zone. Basically I saw a black    jersey there somewhere. I didn’t even know it was Clarence Davis. I just    knew that there was a Raider receiver in that area. The ball probably should have been    intercepted, but Clarence wanted it worse than they did, and he took it away from two or    three people, and Clarence just made a wonderful play out of the whole thing.

RS: It was a wonderful play. Ken,    do you consider yourself a Raider, a Saint or an Oiler?

KS: Well, that’s kind of a no    brainer. For whatever name I made as an athlete, as a football player, as a quarterback,    it has to be as a Raider. I mean, if you look at playing 10 years in one spot compared to    two years in Houston and playing three years in New Orleans. For whatever quarterback I    am, it has to be that 10 years that I spent in Oakland.

RS: Well, I pretty much figured    that, but for the sake of Raider fans around the world, I just wanted to hear you say it.    The last question, Ken: Why do you think you’re not in the Hall of Fame? Your numbers,    your completion percentage, your ability to win the big game, your ability to drive a team    in the last minute — probably no other quarterback in the history of the league was    your equal. You’re one of the best quarterbacks ever. Why aren’t you in the Hall of Fame?

KS: Well, I don’t know. I’m not    the person to ask that, you know. I don’t know what the criteria is. I don’t really know    how it’s done or who votes on that sort of thing. I don’t have any idea. All you can do is    go out there and play, and play as hard as you can, and let the cards fall where they may.    I don’t have any idea why those things happen, or why you’re not in there. It’s not    something that I think about an awful lot unless somebody brings it up. I mean, if you    should be there, then eventually maybe you will be. It would be a great honor, but like I    said, it’s not something I think about an awful lot.

RS: Well, I tell you what. If you    find an e-mail address or phone number of anybody who’s voting on the Hall of Fame, we’ll    get some Raider fans around the world — maybe a couple of hundred thousand fans     — to send them some e-mail and call them because you certainly deserve to be in the    Hall of Fame. If there is anybody out there who isn’t in the Hall of Fame and deserves it    more, I don’t know who that would be.

KS: Well, that’s nice of you to    say that. I don’t have any problem with it. I mean, I had a wonderful career. I think that    anytime you’re blessed to play with the guys we’ve been talking about, and playing for    John Madden and Bum Phillips and guys like that. It was an awful lot of fun. They let you    be the kind of player you want to be on the field, and the kind of guy you want to be off    the field. I don’t have any problem with my standing in the football community. I had a    great career and we won — we won a world championship. I was paid the way most    quarterbacks were paid. I don’t have any problem with it. If it happens, it happens. If it    doesn’t, then I’m content with where I’ve been and how I got there.

RS: Well, you were certainly one    of my favorite players, and I know you’re the favorite player for a lot of the people who    will be reading this interview in the Raider Nation Journal. It’s been an honor,    Ken. Raider Nation Journal is written by Raider fans for Raider fans around the    world. We’re very proud to have interviewed you today. Thanks, Kenny.

KS: Thank you, Randy.

You are prohibited from republication, retransmission,    reproduction, or other use of any text, graphics, or photos on any page on this site.    Raider Nation and Raider Nation Journal are trademarks of Raider Nation, Inc. All other    images and trademarks are properties of their respective owners.     Copyright (c) 1998 Raider Nation. All rights    reserved.

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.

Is that Whip or WIP

A wise and sage person once said, “manage your project, don’t manage WIP”. For years the idea of Work in Progress (WIP) has eluded the understanding of senior management at many companies. Senior management labors under the impression that there is a WIP God that is all seeing and all knowing and will swoop down upon the company if anything is awry. What senior management in many companies fail to understand is that the way the company estimates projects makes the calculation of WIP immediately suspect. Many projects are already upside down before they even get out of the gate. Pointing this out is to no avail when senior management is convinced that WIP is the problem, not poor estimating or project management. Of course, the problem of profit fade and poor performing projects never goes away when management remains convinced that WIP, or is that WHIP, caused the project to lose money.

A short primer on the critical elements of WIP for the uninitiated. There are three key elements that are needed to insure that the process of WIP operates as accurately as possible:

  1. You need an estimate that is in the ballpark. This was the beginning of the problem at one firm. Estimates were so far out in left field that the math to calculate percent complete was immediately whacked.
  2. This part most firms cannot screw up too much – contract value. Although firms never stop trying to screw this up by not updating the contract value throughout the contract, both up and down. At this point this becomes just one other piece of the calculation that goes wrong.
  3. Competent project managers who can actually manage projects. SURPRISE! What a concept, there must be capable project managers who know where they are in the project and can accurately forecast an estimate to complete (ETC).

Simple enough, don’t you think?? Yet those at many companies cannot wrap their brain around the concept and continually come up with processes and procedures to manage WIP, versus manage the projects or change clearly deficient estimating procedures and project management.

A case of dumb and dumber, the blind leading the blind, etc… We know that if we manage the WIP that the projects will make money, you MUST be calculating it incorrectly. Bwaa Haa Haa, such ignorance. Folks, WIP is just a timing mechanism that matches revenue to expense and has no impact upon a projects profitability. That is the main purpose of WIP – match revenue to expense was what I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs after sitting through the 100th meeting where the same pronouncement regarding how WIP needed to be managed. The usual Jim Carrey look came when they would make these statements – “we know the truth, you can’t fool us”, LOL. I am convinced this was done to WHIP me into submission. As if telling me over and over  would make me a convert to the insanity. To this day the senior management at many companies is clueless to the concept of WIP.

Being able to effectively estimate projects is where many companies have real issues that doom projects to profit fade from the beginning and/or during the project when an estimate to complete is needed. I recall asking for an estimate to complete from a senior manager at one company for a project in Southern California. He sticks his finger up in the air, gauges the direction of airflow, and says “we only have another $150,000 worth of work left on this project”. This was at yearend when preparing for audit so I asked “are you sure?”. Yes, absolutely was the reply by not only this senior manager but others as well. The first quarter of the new year the firm immediately proceeded to spend $1.5 million to complete the project – whoops, a little off. WTF. You got it – the WIP was wrong, we lost money because of the WIP, LOL. Unfortunately, this is not the exception but the rule at many companies. Estimates and estimates to complete are many times about as accurate as a Tarot card reading. Actually Tarot card readings are probably more accurate. My apologies to all Tarot card readers.

Trying to get accurate estimate to complete in some companies on any project is like whack a mole. They keep guessing until the end of the project when it is  impossible to get it wrong anymore!! Consistently profit fade on projects follows a pattern of 35%, 30%, 15%, to 9% once the project is done. There are always estimates given to substantiate the profit percentage of the month. You got it – the WIP was the culprit. Gotta manage that WIP better. Senior management actually many times increases focus on WIP everytime a project loses money and then cannot understand why the same profit fade continually occurs. DUH, the root cause was poor estimating and project management.

Many companies are populated with “C” players at the senior management level. From the Harvard Business Review (I have added emphasis), “There are three main types of C players, and what you should do depends on which you’re working with. The first are those who have been promoted beyond their level of competence (a concept popularly known as the Peter Principle). They simply don’t possess the capability to perform in their current job. These are the individuals you need to manage out of your team. Perhaps they can flourish in less-demanding roles or in other parts of the organization, or perhaps they simply need to leave entirely.“. Unfortunately, the senior management of many firms aren’t going anywhere even though they clearly lacked the competence to perform at the level required. They truly have risen to their highest level of incompetence.

As in many companies, staff can see senior management for what they are. Only management themselves are blind to the issues that originated with their lack of competence in key areas. I suppose it is the only way this type of senior management survives in many companies. The feeble minded band together and validate each others bad decisions. In that way they survive in the only environment they can, one in which they can control and elude performance measurements which would doom them in any other company. I have a recurring nightmare where Moe, Larry, Curly and Jane show up and we are working together. No, this can’t be real – and then I wake up and am overcome with a feeling of relief. It was just a dream.

Lesson learned: manage your projects, not WIP. Beware of those who speak authoritatively on a subject and attempt to lead when they have no inkling of what they speak of.

 

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.

 

 

Castles in the Sand….

…fall into the sea eventually. Having just spent, in my opinion wasted, years building what I thought was a stable relationship, both internally and externally, with several companies this statement rings so true. The experience also validates another truism – always go with your first gut instinct. Had I done so I would have ditched this company within the first couple of years or, at the very least, at five years when it became very apparent that those in senior management had no moral compass but, even worse, no business instinct needed to grow the firm past where it already was.

From Harvard Business Review, “The problem is about 70% of leaders rate themselves as inspiring and motivating – much in the same way as we all rate ourselves as great drivers. But this stands in stark contrast to how employees perceive their leaders. A survey published by Forbes found that 65% of employees would forego a pay raise if it meant seeing their leader fired, and a 2016 Gallup engagement survey found that 82% of employees see their leaders as fundamentally uninspiring. In our opinion, these two things are directly related.”.

What were the signs you ask. The immediate sign was the lack of leadership skills the senior management had. There was no ability to rise above the petty, personal, and vindictive nature that they possessed. Everything was taken to the personal level – I don’t like so and so because they are friendly with Jesse, or whoever happened to be the flavor of the month. It was akin to mean girls and being in high school again. Talk about those in positions of power wielding that power inappropriately. “Because they could” became justification for tremendously bad judgement. Initially I thought this was just an immaturity that eventually the company would grow out of but, alas, this was not the case. There were so many warning signs but there was also always the hope that the various shortcomings would resolve themselves. Kind of like staying in a bad relationship because you kept thinking the other person was going to change. In the end, however, it became the lack of business acumen that convinced me it was time to the pull the plug on this patient. An inability to understand the difference between gross margin and net margin and figure out why we weren’t making money.

You would think that with all the shortcomings the smart thing to do would be to surround yourself with those of a higher caliber. That would have been the smart thing to do in order to prevent disastrous business decisions being made due to the egocentric nature of the top management. The most polite thing I can say about the inner circle is that they were very entertaining from a Three Stooges perspective. There was Moe with the page boy haircut and whose only claim to fame was his nickname which is the only thing he could speak to authoritatively. Curly was the one who scratched his balls in every meeting and hemmed and hawed when he got upset with something you were saying. Larry was the newest of the group and he was never one to rock the boat, just go whichever way the wind was blowing. Read this as whichever way the senior management said was up. Not one to be bothered with doing the right thing, just do whatever was politically expedient. Against this backdrop is it any wonder that things lurched from one disaster to another. It was life on a roller coaster of one bad decision after another with no one wanting to listen to ways to improve the situation. As I had written in another of my posts – it was going over the cliff over and over again even when warnings were constantly given.

The upside to this is that it personally validated what I have come to see as the sorry state of leadership and management in many firms. In fact, the experience described spans a spectrum of companies across 30 years of experience. It also precipitated a career move which has been very satisfying in validating from a business perspective that there was a better path. Many more stories to share regarding business ethics and morality, stay tuned. A teaser – how wiggling toes in the sand can lead to federal intrigue.

Lesson learned: your first instinct will in most instances be right. If the situation does not feel like a fit you should look to make a change in your environment, not necessarily wait for the environment to change since it may never do so.

From Harvard Business Review, “Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Company, says that selflessness is the foundation of good leadership. Leadership is not about you, but about the people and the organization you lead. With selflessness, you take yourself out of the equation and consider the long-term benefits of others. Selflessness does not mean you become a doormat for others and refuse stand up for yourself. Selflessness comes out of self-confidence and self-care.  Here is a simple way of checking whether you are selfless in your leadership: When you make decisions, check your motivation; are you doing it for personal gain, or for the benefits of others?”.

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

I am Positive it Won’t Work or the Power of Groupthink

A long and tortured tale of a failed ERP implementation at a large architectural firm headquartered in San Francisco.

pospiss1The best moments are only available upon reflection as at the time it was a period of total lunacy in my career. Dominated by a culture so dysfunctional that it allowed $5.0 million plus to be pissed down a hole. Of course, I was painted as the dysfunctional one since, as the SF Regional manager, so astutely told me during one discussion, “You need to be positive about the ERP implementation!”, in her chirpy upbeat way. To which I replied, “OK, I am POSITIVE this implementation will fail”. How is that for being positive. This was several months into an implementation that saw us christening the project management module of the software as “Project Uranus”. Very appropriate, given that you could stick this software up “your anus” since it was never going to work.

Talk about swimming upstream, every person on the project team fell in line behind the founders son in proclaiming that the software implementation was going to be a success. This against every single indication that it was failing. A countdown clock to the “go live” date was established so everyone could eagerly await the dawning of the new day for the firm. It was a joke of huge magnitude which only I could see.

Everything was done according to the book to insure success – a focused evaluation and implementation team was formed that included outside consultants, outside accounting firm, and representatives of other firms. The consortium of outside keefe031607firms was a who’s who of the architecture industry in the United States. It was impossible to fail, or so some in upper management thought. With so much brain power, and I use the term lightly, there was no way that we could go down the wrong path. The problem was that, to a person, everyone on the implementation “team” had no facility for independent thought and/or it was not in their vested interest to buck the trend if it would be perceived negatively. The prodigal son made it clear that what he wanted is what would be chosen and implemented, regardless of whether it would work – everyone was to MAKE it work, or else. That was the environment which caused everyone to fall in line and follow each other over the cliff even though it became a forgone conclusion that the implementation was going to fail. Questioning the decision was a career limiting move or it would cost the outside consultants their fees.

I recall one meeting held in a large conference room when things were already going sideways in which everyone formed a circle to encourage openness and unity, LOL. Did I mention this firm bought into, and probably still does, buy into every management craze that happens to be in vogue. Doesn’t matter whether the latest trend works, just that we did them so we showed our intellectual prowess, again LOL. They were high on appearance but low on execution – they had not figured out that without execution the latest theories are nothing more than opiates for the masses – we are doing OK because we are doing what everyone says is right!! I digress, we are in this room in a circle and the prodigal son goes around the room one by one and asks each person to give their impression of where the project stands. Remember, this was to be his way of getting to the truth of the situation, whether his belief that things were OK could be validated by the assembled “experts”. I am standing next to one of the founders of the accounting firm we utilized at White-liesthe time, he leans over and whispers, “..this is a cluster fuck”. I nod my affirmation that, indeed, this is an exercise in stupidity as not one person uttered what was overwhelmingly the only conclusion a sane person could come to – the ERP system chosen was a complete failure and would never work. It was as clear as the nose on everyone’s face but no one wanted that nose cut off by the prodigal son, easier to go with the flow over the cliff and over they all went. All telling little white lies to keep their positions within the firm intact. Several went on to become principals in the firm when they rightly should have been terminated for gross negligence. Nothing so harsh – they were “team” players, no matter they cost the firm $5.0 million as the culture of this firm was better to go along with the dysfunctional behavior because that was part of our culture, and our culture is what got us here. Whacked.

To this day I gag every time I see quotes from senior managers of this firm, or in particular the ex-CEO, who speak authoritatively on management theory or techniques. Unless they have somehow pulled their heads out of their asses, which I doubt, their words of wisdom fall on deaf ears as experience has shown they lack the ability to execute.

Lesson Learned: without execution all the management theories are not worth the paper they are written on. Groups who are not empowered to speak freely are capable of tremendously stupid decisions. When the overpowering emphasis is on going with the flow there is real danger in going over the cliff.

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