#213 from R&D
Innovator Volume 5, Number 4
How Not to
Promote Enthusiasm for the Organization
I am a program
manager of a small company that was purchased 18 months ago by a
huge multinational conglomerate.
Most of us were initially apprehensive as to how this new
arrangement was going to turn out.
had a hands-off policy when it came to dealing with us.
I sent monthly progress reports to its executives and also
gave a presentation once at headquarters.
People seemed interested as they asked good questions
during my presentation. Once
in a while I receive memos requesting more information based on my
nervousness about the new arrangement was settling down and I, at
least, enjoyed being part of a group with enormous
resources--besides money--that was easy to tap into. For instance, their analytical groups were quite accessible
and of the highest quality. We
now had a more skilled staff managing our intellectual property.
A month ago we
had an announced visit from several of the corporate executives,
including a technical vice president.
I was to present the program's progress, which was on
schedule and on budget. So
I wasn't especially nervous about the visit as I already had made
this type of presentation previously.
While I was
reporting our work progress, there were a few questions that I
easily answered. The
technical vice president, however, said nothing during my talk.
When I finished it, he came up with a collection of reasons
why our strategy was bound to fail.
By the way, he was routinely copied on my monthly reports
and never made any kind of comment--good or bad--to me.
He seemed to be posturing to the other executives who were
technical field is only peripheral to the program, and his
reasoning wasn't sound.
I responded to
his concerns, but he countered with comments such as, "I know
it won't work, and experts in your field agree with me." When I asked him who these experts were, he shook off the
question with, “Just some people who are knowledgeable about
your area.” His
anger increased with every argument I made, and I became
increasingly flustered. No
one came to my defense. But
there was no one else technically competent to discuss the issues
raised by the conglomerate's technical vice president.
After it was
clear that I couldn't--or was unable to--win the debate, the
senior conglomerate executive stated that my program should be
shut down and that my group and I be assigned other projects.
I was dumbfounded. I
believe that my supervisor, who attended the meeting, was also
taken aback. This was
a total surprise. It
was a decision not based on logic.
After many nights
awake mulling about my inability to get the points across, I think
I've made sense of the event.
I believe that the conglomerate executives decided to
cancel my program prior to that visit.
Perhaps their financial analysis led to that decision, or
perhaps the company, owned by the conglomerate, to which my
program would have been valuable, was to be sold off.
And maybe they didn't want to give their reasoning to
anyone in my small company. So
I was made their scapegoat.
conglomerate executives feel good about achieving what they
wanted. Perhaps they
are congratulating themselves about how clever they were.
Perhaps they are not at all concerned about the feelings of
people in my small company.
And you wonder
why there's a problem in getting people to consider themselves
part of the corporate “team.”