Take a look where @Paul Keith
kicked off a rather interesting discussion - Do Visions and Missions work for you?True story:
I referred to EDS Corp. in that thread, and pointed out that, although EDS had some seriously very good points, it had some pretty bad points too. In particular, being an American corporation, it had an Americanised corporate culture
that, unfortunately, seemed to largely consist of unrelenting and unmitigated BS that emanated outwards from the Plano (Texas) HQ and which was automatically picked up and mindlessly parroted by the local American management who had been assigned to run things in EDS' two NZ acquisitions - which latter had their own peculiar corporate cultures and which cultures were carelessly smashed together in an EDS mold when the two were eventually rolled up into a single subsidiary organisational entity as "EDS NZ".
The EDS Executive Team had courageously set EDS on a programme of development, consisting of 5 waves of planned change. Unfortunately, the programme - which was ambitious and farsighted, but poorly planned and executed - failed at the 2nd hurdle (the 2nd Wave) and was silently abandoned - leaving the rotting corpse of a dead elephant in the middle of the room.
The implementation of the 5thD
was part of that change programme and, with all that change going on, the core business processes were in an unstable state of dynamic change, and, as I pointed out above:
...Thus, trying to retrofit (say) the 5thD methodology on top of a working culture underpinned by business processes which are at CMM Level 1 or 2 will categorically fail....
A couple or so years after I had left EDS, I saw this history repeated.
I had by that stage been contracted into a small but profitable independent NZ IT and management consultancy that was subsequently acquired 100% by an American company (I'll call them "Buyer Co."
) driven by a foreign Indian management team. The company operated mostly in the US, selling ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems/expertise and "Offshoring" - i.e., offshore resourcing (driven mainly from out of Mumbai, India). "Offshoring" entails outsourcing IT operations holus bolus and a form of labour arbitrage which can save large US corporations huge sums of money by enabling them to lay off their local US human resources (employees), replacing them with a far cheaper and skilled commodity - i.e., labour based in India - at bulk negotiated discount rates. This makes for huge annual savings by wiping out large components of their payroll costs and HR management costs, leading to a greatly increased profitability per capita
Almost immediately after Buyer Co. bought the consultancy, the now familiar and easily recognisable BS started to radiate out of the US HQ of this corporation that had acquired our small but profitable NZ consultancy. However, the BS escalated by a factor of 10 when the Mumbai management started to chime in. They decided to merge our consultancy with a small but unprofitable part of the Buyer Co. group operating in "the ERP space" ("something-space" is generally always BS), and spin it off as an IPO (Independent Public Offering) on the NASDAQ. We were all going to be made rich, with new staff stock equity/scrip options which we would be given (Oh, feel the greed!) or would be able to acquire in the IPO, or something. We had a competition to dream up a name for the new corporate entity. It was all so exciting!
As a skeptical accountant, I thought it smelled very fishy.
Because I had a tremendously useful background in strategic marketing and planning (courtesy of some excellent EDS training and experience in the Holden Corporation's Value-Based Marketing methodology), I was assigned to work with our consultancy's CEO to organise and lead a virtual collaborative exercise with our consultants, who were located across the Australasia/SE Asia territory, to pull together an SMP (Strategic marketing Plan) for the newly-merged corporate entity (which now had an excitingly
flashy name, but I'll call it "XYZ Co."
) to operate in Australasia and SE Asia. This was done, and the CEO was very pleased with it - his small flock of consultants (for whom I had been the sheepdog) had come up with a very creditable and solid SMP.
Whilst all this was going on, I was being sent on assignments in SE Asia, and from there I and my colleagues observed the start of the floating of the IPO and at the same time a steadily increasing stream of BS from out of the US management and the Mumbai management of Buyer Co.
. To our horror, they seemed to be changing tack all the time, completely ignoring the direction planned in the cogent SMP (maybe they didn't understand it). Helplessly, we watched in growing concern as they progressively drove XYZ Co. into the ground shortly after the IPO, with XYZ Co. later being pushed into US Chapter 11 (administration for insolvency) and removed from the NASDAQ listing.
All had turned to liquid manure, which "trickled down" on all the staff, and the XYZ Co. staff stock options expired, worthless, with all the staff eventually being terminated (laid off) with minimal severance pay, and the CEO taking Buyer Co. to court for damages. This happened over a period of about 18-24 months after the IPO, demonstrating that the effects of greedy incompetence can be rapid, costly and far-reaching, and that there are always likely to be unsuspecting victims (collateral damage).
The residual shell of XYZ Co. was subsequently sold by Buyer Co. to another Indian-managed company (I shall call them "Goldline Co."
), who, I was reliably informed, promptly sued Buyer Co. when they discovered that they had been sold a pup. As it was told to me, it seemed that Buyer Co. had apparently covertly loaded up the XYZ Co. shell with some other unwanted/unprofitable and/or debt-ridden bits and pieces of Buyer Co., concealing that fact when the due diligence was being done by Goldline Co. prior to purchase.
It seemed that Buyer Co. had tried to take advantage of the fact the the Indian market's legal scrutiny and criteria for open and honest discovery in the due diligence process was (apparently) nothing like as open, ethical, stringent and rigorous as it was/is in most properly-regulated Western economies. There be dragons.
In talking about EDS above, I did not mention that, whilst all the change was going on in EDS, they were being prepared for an IPO float on the NASDAQ, having previously been a wholly-owned and very big/costly subsidiary item on the balance sheet of GM (General Motors). The IPO would remove EDS (and their costs) from the GM balance sheet, and they would have to stand on their own two feet, with some kind of a diminishing guaranteed income from GM (their major client) for the first couple of years or so. The IPO eventuated - with all the usual stock options, greed, great excitement and BS - but EDS stock value subsequently declined at a steady rate from its initial high point, until, a few years later, it was bought for a song by HP, having become a mismanaged half-dead loss-making thing. It was then apparently asset stripped and killed off humanely with many layoffs. Meanwhile GM would have made a huge profit from the IPO itself and
had got a potentially cripplingly costly dead-weight loss-making item off of its balance sheet. Phew! Pretty smart work. GM stock prices hit new highs, etc.
Some people (not me, you understand) might say that, the XYZ Co. IPO, though much smaller than the huge EDS IPO, would seem to have had an almost mirror-image path to inevitable self-immolation. They might further suggest that the IPO would probably have made Buyer Co. a tidy profit and it would have stripped the small cash assets of the consultancy to fund the acquisition of that consultancy, and that inconspicuously bundling the loss-making "ERP space" component into the XYZ Co. would have been a sleight-of-hand to conceal the fact that Buyer Co. was getting a dead-weight loss-making item off-of its balance sheet and giving the IPO buyers the privilege of paying for its disposal, and that it was all just a financial risk-mitigation strategy, the losers being the holders of IPO stock when the pass-the-parcel music stopped, together with the laid-off personnel when XYZ Co. closed down soon after the IPO. Well, some people might say that, and they might suggest the things suggested, however I couldn't possibly comment, other than to say that prudential financial management of a company is a given and a self-evident responsibility of, and a valid objective for, management, and that it therefore doesn't need to be justified. ("Good luck if you can get away with it.")
There may be some useful lessons here though. For example, when one hears management spouting BS in terms such as (say) "Implementing a culture-change programme", or "Implementing a management restructure", for the purposes of "improving diversity/sustainability/performance/profitability", it's probably not a bad idea/time to dust off one's CV and commence job-seeking, just-in-case like, eh?