#178 from R&D
Innovator Volume 4, Number 9
company of approximately 150 employees just had its first one-day
retreat at a nearby resort. The
executives all gave very positive speeches about the future of the
company. They said
nothing but nice things about all of our projects.
A bunch of us received special recognition (checks, gift
certificates, or plaques). There
was talk of growth and building.
We closed the day laughing hysterically to an after-dinner
professional comedian who made fun of various management styles.
Anyone attending would have thought we were well-managed
and on the way to enormous successes.
however, that we're in real trouble--at least that's what
these same executives have been saying for the past year,
including weeks prior to this retreat.
And from the internal rumor mill, “trouble” seems to be
reality. Within the
last two months, a vice president and two managers (among the
company’s best) quit. Our
newest product isn’t turning out nearly as well as we hoped. Our older product is losing its competitive advantage.
We’re having serious financial trouble.
It's been a pretty gloomy time here over the past year, and
management--until this retreat--had been talking rather
I don't believe
anyone was fooled by the rhetoric at the resort.
While the speeches went on, many of us exchanged quizzical
glances. The person
next to me asked if the people leading our company (and our
future) had been taking drugs.
Are they living in a dream world?
It's difficult to imagine that they believe that their
speeches will turn our attitudes around.
In fact, this retreat only made us more concerned
about the company’s viability.
The undercurrent was one of rumors.
I’ll bet the executives thought that whatever they said
would be accepted without question.
It would have
been much more valuable if the executives would have been open as
to the problems. They,
personally, would have received more respect.
And, more important, their leadership role would have been
more effective. In
other words, we would all understand the problems and work to come
to solutions. Or, if
things are that bad, we should be warned to be on the
lookout for new jobs; but, meanwhile, we would try hard to get our
company on the way to success again.
have included a question-and-answer period, at the retreat, where
executives would honestly answer concerns from any
employee. In fact,
the executives always sat together, making it difficult for us to
chat with them. This
retreat just underscores the barrier between the two cultures:
executives and "others."
If you’re an executive, consider the consequences of
maintaining this barrier--it can only harm the quality of R&D,
as researchers will be concentrating on their own future rather
than on their projects.