Having been part of a mid-size Multi National Company for the past many years now, I have had the incredible opportunity to grow and understand the decision making of the leaders within the organization. More and more, I have come to appreciate the dynamics that go into taking key decisions and how they eventually impact the direction that the company takes. We have had many different CEOs over the years – at least 4 that I can think of right away. Each and every one of them has had a distinct style and method of execution and decision making.
As part of the R&D org, most of the changes over the years have been through the offices of different leaders of the Business Units, Engineering heads and now obscure titles that were created at the time for different reasons. It is quite telling that change has been the one constant factor over time. It probably reflects on the overall revenue and stock price of the company, which have both remained largely flat over the years. There has been a distinct gap in discipline in execution as we have struggled to bring a truly successful product to the market in the past 10 years. The landscape of Computer Networking has been changing, although the fundamentals remain the same even today. Networks simply have to be faster and and cater to larger bandwidths as video downloads and online streaming take centre stage. Being part of this industry is exciting when I consider that there is really no way that this entire infrastructure can just go away. Data communication has evolved over the past 50 years or so and it will continue to do so.
With all of this in mind, it is frustrating for a company with not more than 9000 employees, to struggle with adapting to this changing landscape. Today, we see Microsoft, which is at least 20 times the size of this one, being spoken about as agile and adaptive. What makes it difficult for a much smaller company to do the same? People.
Once there is as much churn as there has been in this company, people are demotivated and really, look at other opportunities where they are more likely to be recognized and valued for their contributions. You have to feel and believe that you are part of a larger purpose that is delivering results. That is where this company has suffered. We are unable to deliver results that we need to. We fail to learn from mistakes that we make.
The current CEO speaks from the heart and feels genuine. His challenge is to allow his inherent goodness of heart and being to percolate downwards to each and every employee, so they can embody the values of the company that he lives through every single day. It is not an easy thing to do. He needs to start with his direct staff.