While reflecting on my journey through professional life, I decided to generate a timeline of my travels to date:
After a seven year stint at GE, I joined Sensis (SENsor Information Systems) Corporation in 1987 as employee #13. For 20+ years, the company flourished and grew until running into financial difficulties in 2009. After choosing Sweden’s Saab AB from a list of suitors as our future parent, we were purchased in 2011 and our name was changed accordingly to Saab Sensis Corp.
Due to the funky national security complications of being a foreign-owned company that does business with the US Department of Defense, it made financial sense to split the group in two – a subgroup that conducts business with the US DoD (Saab Sensor Systems) and one that doesn’t (Saab Sensis). A functional and physical split would lift the DoD security restrictions hampering the non-DoD business efforts of the Saab Sensis group.
After expressing a personal preference to be placed at Saab Sensis, I ended up being assigned to the Saab Sensor Systems group when the split was finalized in the fall of 2013. So far, it has worked out better than I initially thought it would. The high quality of the people and the work is essentially the same between the two groups, but Saab Sensor Systems is roughly half the size of Saab Sensis (to me, the smaller the better). In addition, the near term business outlook for Saab Sensor Systems seems to hold more promise.
I’ve been a lucky bastard throughout my entire work and social lives. I’m grateful for that, and I hope my lucky streak continues.
Somewhere on the road from small startup sensation to huge institutional borgdom, the oft-repeated process of “manage-ification by growth” fires up and kicks into high gear. It’s inevitable, or is it?
In the context of complex decisions with uncertain outcomes and no obvious right answer, the managerial mind inevitably longs for some handrails to grasp amid the smoke and flames. Strategic planning offers that consolation— or illusion— of a sure path to the future – Stewart, Matthew
In “The Management Myth“, Matthew Stewart researches how the business of “Business Strategy” got started and how it evolved over the decades. He (dis)credits Igor Ansoff with starting the phantom fad founded on “nonfalsifiable tautologies, generic reminders, and pompous maxims“. Mr. Stewart also credits mainstream strategy guru Michael Porter with growing the beast in the nineties into the mega-business it is today.
Perhaps the most interesting outcome from the rise of the business of strategy was the stratification of “management” into two classes, top management and middle management:
Top management takes responsibility for deciding on the mix of businesses a corporation ought to pursue and for judging the performance of business unit managers. Middle management is said to be responsible for the execution of activities within specific lines of business. This division within management has created a new and problematic social reality. In earlier times, there was one management and there was one labor, and telling the two apart was a fairly simple matter of looking at the clothes they wore. The rise of middle management has resulted in the emergence of a large group of individuals who technically count as managers and sartorially look the part but nonetheless live very far down the elevator shaft from the people who actually have power – Stewart, Matthew
I always wondered how the delineation between “top” and “middle” management came about. Now I know why.
Take a guess at which CEO recently made all these inspirational statements:
- “Overall I am very pleased with the progress we have made, but we still have a lot of work to do to drive consistent execution and navigate a rapidly shifting marketplace.”
- “We saw improved sales in our mainstream XXXXX business, but we need to improve our pricing discipline and profitability,”
- “We saw improved sales execution, a strong hyper-scale quarter, and stabilization in XXXXX complimented by revenue growth in YYYYYYY”
- “We improved our share position in all three regions”
- “We continue to manage the end-to-end cost structure of our XXXXX business with profitability very much in mind.”
- “Looking forward we will stay committed to smart capital allocation and profitable growth.”
- “As we said at our security analyst meeting last month, we believe we can grow both margin and share over the longer term. We’ll continue to be aggressive in targeted cases, but we have more opportunity to improve our profitability”
If you’re expecting an answer from BD00, then fuggedaboud it. You can pick any CEO because the vast majority of C-execs speak in this same tongue. But ya know what? Despite the standard BD00 sarcasm oozing from this post, the “system” demands that somebody do it; and I’m thankful that those who do it, do do it. I wouldn’t want to do it. In addition to not fitting into the physical and psychological profiles required by the C-level community, it’s not my cup of tea.
Check out this 20th century retro banner that BD00 stumbled upon whilst being given a tour of a friend’s new workplace:
OMG! The smug agilista community would be outraged at such a bold, blasphemous stunt! But you know what? BD00’s friend’s org is alive and well. It’s making money, the future looks bright for the business, and the people who work there seem to be content. Put that in your pipe and stoke it up.
Ooh, ooh. Look at the picture that I snapped whilst on vacation. Expectedly, the sign “protected” the first parking spot next to the restaurant entrance. I’d speculate that it’s a great place to work, wouldn’t you?
I’m planning on using the state of the art SEMAT kernel to cherry-pick a few “best practices” and concoct a new, proprietary, turbo-agile software development process. The BD00 Inc. profit deluge will come from teaching 1 hour certification courses all over the world for $2000 a pop. To fund the endeavor, I’m gonna launch a Kickstarter project.
What do you think of my slam dunk plan? See any holes in it?