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Should the Power of Corporate Innovation Shift Away From Executives?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the or-at-least-the-pretense-of-innovation dept.

Businesses 149

Lucas123 writes "At the Consumerization of IT conference in San Francisco this week, several speakers agreed the next big shift in the corporate establishment will not be technological but social, away from top-down responsibility for innovation and change. Businesses are on the cusp of a leadership revolution because millennials moving into the workforce are 'the most authority-phobic' generation in history, according to Gary Hamel, a management educator at the London School of Business. Not only should low-level workers be incentivized for being creative, they should be given the power to spend corporate money on research and development, Hamel said. By doing that, companies will diversity their experimental capital. 'If you don't do that, you'll never change that innovation curve,' he said. Hamel was not alone. Kevin Jones, a consulting social & organizational strategist for NASA's Marshall and Goddard Space Flight Centers, agreed that traditional corporate culture needs a radical shakeup. 'The values of management today are different from the values of the social enterprise and different from the values of the consumerization of IT — and they're not mixing very well,' Jones said. 'That's where we're having the battle.'"

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NO !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908861)

Or YES !!

One of those !!

Re:NO !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909209)

Any answer you want, as long as it's "No."

or maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908877)


As the philosopher Cartman put it, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908883)

"I hate hippies!"

douchebags, the lot of them (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43908913)

Lord knows the upper management at all but one company I've worked at is a bunch of parasitic douchebags. Good riddance.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43909103)

Indeed, I'm astonished that anyone would think upper management drives innovation. Usually they're obsessed with insuring conformity and making sure no one shows any initiative - especially if it involves risks.

However, I'm delighted to learn that it is now possible to post articles from alternative universes...

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909229)

If US workers are authority-phobic and want to be part of their own innovation, then that sounds like a good reason for offshoring and inshoring with H1Bs. They're Management! and they're In Charge!

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910621)

I would love to see that. As the collective quality of work at the largest corporations got progressively worse, their cumbersome burden would be left further behind in the new age. The quickly eroding security of their services will just as quickly erode the populace's faith in the service provider. The rest of us creating services to fill those voids will be all the better for it, and will not need anything resembling "upper management" to ever taint our corporations again.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909325)

Indeed, I'm astonished that anyone would think upper management drives innovation. Usually they're obsessed with insuring conformity and making sure no one shows any initiative - especially if it involves risks.

However, I'm delighted to learn that it is now possible to post articles from alternative universes...

So, "upper management" includes the people who run Apple, Google, Spotify, Nintendo, Amazon, Valve, etc. etc.. It is not synonymous with bad management and lack of innovation drive, even if that is the experience and/or caricature picture many have of how businesses are run. It too often is the case that corporations are run in an innovation-stifling manner, but that is bad management, nothing more, nothing less. And given how much bad management there is, and how important it is to have good management, it is interesting how under-appreciated this is sometimes, but let that lay..

The problem with giving to much innovation freedom to too many is that a business need to have and follow a strategy. If you are all over the place with ideas that are not supporting the same strategy you are not going to be successful -- even if they individually are good ideas. This is the key thing many struggle to understand. They might be good ideas, for another company, but if it is a diversion of resources and synergy (sorry) from what supports the main strategy, it can be dangerous, even if successful. Strategy is underrated, it eats innovation culture for breakfast.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43909459)

Exactly why is it that startups have greater R&D and innovation? because they lack stodgy upper management that slows down most innovation.

Why do most startups fail? because they lack experience to properly capitalize on those innovations.

If businesses were honest with themselves they would look at the total dollars spent on just management and trim the excess fat from the upper layers.

I Have always found it amusing that a business would fire thousands of people to save a couple of million, instead of firing one or two upper managers to save the same amount. All Upper Management really does is deal with the personal issues of the lower employees(Herding cats is easier than herding programmers).

Having been in a middle management position I spent most of my time dealing with people who got degrees but failed kindergarten. They never learned how to talk to others to deal with their issues, they never learned to not say anything when they don't have anything nice to say, and They never really learned that blaming the wrong person just because you don't like them doesn't solve anything.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910553)

I'm astonished that anyone would think upper management drives innovation.

Upper management thinks upper management drives innovation, and that's who the target audience was.


Re:douchebags, the lot of them (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43910733)

Upper management does take credit for it all though. Witness how the general public firmly believes that Steve Jobs personally designed and invented the ipod and iphone.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (5, Interesting)

t4ng* (1092951) | about a year ago | (#43909793)

Corporate-speak bullshit keywords...

  • * incentivized
  • * diversity[sic] their experimental capital
  • * change that innovation curve
  • * social enterprise
  • * consumerization of IT

I could hardly get through the summary without puking.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910319)

I'm currently half way through my graduate business degree program and even I roll my eyes at the buzz word bullshit. It isn't as prevalent as you'd guess. It seems like the people doing the more public communication tend to use the most BS buzzwords.

I can't stand "price point". Why the fuck do you need "point" there? Price is sufficient in every use case and it isn't going away.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43910549)

I'm currently half way through my graduate business degree program and even I roll my eyes at the buzz word bullshit. It isn't as prevalent as you'd guess.

I'm currently in my second decade of working directly with business people, and yes, yes it is. There might even be a direct correlation between incompetence of the businessperson and the frequency of buzzword use.

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910895)


  • * incentivized
  • * diversity[sic] their experimental capital
  • * change that innovation curve
  • * social enterprise
  • * consumerization of IT


  • * circle-jerk
  • * glad-hand
  • * brown-nose
  • * kiss arse
  • * look for no-good shits to dump on

Re:douchebags, the lot of them (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#43910933)

I could hardly get through the summary without puking.

Maybe it's some weird attempt at trolling, but I'm not hopeful.

Who's in charge? (4, Funny)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year ago | (#43908947)

Who's in charge? Nobody!

Who kills bad ideas, based on prior experience? Nobody!

Who insures that everyone is working on something productive? You guessed it.

Re:Who's in charge? (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about a year ago | (#43908979)


Re:Who's in charge? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909077)

Hewlett-Packard invented the concept of Management By Walking Around which meant spending part of their day listening to the people involved in product development whereas now they have MBAs to tell them how the company is performing.

Re:Who's in charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909079)

Did you bother to read the story? There are successful companies cited in it that allow teams of colleagues to judge what is and isn't productive work. Workers who after they're hired are allowed to create their own mission statements. They also decide compensation based on productivity. If you spend company money, and you're not productive, you're out. Additionally, workers rate other employees based on management skills and choose who should or shouldn't lead. Seems like a pretty good idea to me.

Re:Who's in charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909269)

Additionally, workers rate other employees based on management skills and choose who should or shouldn't lead. Seems like a pretty good idea to me.

Workers will rate each other based on their personal interactions and perceptions. This would be bad for a lot of less than social but hardworking folks I know.

They also decide compensation based on productivity. If you spend company money, and you're not productive, you're out.

"Productivity." Define, please.

Re:Who's in charge? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43909463)

Workers will rate each other based on their personal interactions and perceptions.

Unlike the people who currently do promotion, who have a lucid view of real contributions, of course...

Re:Who's in charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909177)

Who... who thought of this? Just leave running corporations to facebook? Decide innovation base on likes? WTF

Re:Who's in charge? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909413)

It's nice to have someone who can kill a bad idea. Even Steve Jobs got it wrong sometimes, though, and most "executives" I've dealt with barely know what their companys' products are. Who do you pick?

Re:Who's in charge? (1)

d'baba (1134261) | about a year ago | (#43909479)


The 60s? (5, Insightful)

captaindomon (870655) | about a year ago | (#43908975)

The most authority phobic generation in history? Really? Anyone forget the 60's? Come on, folks. People have not fundamentally changed. Every generation thinks the younger generation is the most authority phobic generation in history.

Re:The 60s? (2)

The Plebe (815098) | about a year ago | (#43909021)

I think you got the 60's part right, but I'm not sure the last statement is true. I'm a GenX-er and my Boomer college professors in the early 90s were always blown away by how NOT authority phobic we all were. I think they made the same assumptions you do and were surprised. Of course that might have been an outlier since I went to a big Ivy league school full of people who assumed that one day they would BE the authority. I took a medical ethics course that was obviously designed from the perspective of the consumer/patient and the prof failed to take into account the fact that 80% of the students would be pre-med.

Re:The 60s? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909057)

If the boomers are anything to go by, the millennials will then become a group of huge douchebags which future generations will curse for the damage they have inflicted on society.

Re:The 60s? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909173)

Boy do I have a spoiler alert for you

Buy stock in xanax is all I'm saying

Re:The 60s? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910115)

whadya mean 'will'?

Re:The 60s? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43909267)

You ever stop to think that they're right? The slide is continuing, when both sides say "things are going down" then they are merely making a correct observation. When one observes this at 85/100 and falling and another observes it at 55/100 and falling then both are right.

Re:The 60s? (2)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43909717)

Oh please. That generation was going to legalize pot. It took till millennials starting voting in force for that to actually start to happen. The boomers rolled over and took the corporate dick up their ass immediately, and often.

Re:The 60s? (3, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | about a year ago | (#43911063)

Yep. People forget the boomers went from hippie to yuppie, trading in their hand-painted VW camper buses and beads for BMWs and rolex watches.

Re:The 60s? (2, Interesting)

dcollins (135727) | about a year ago | (#43911355)

I think the younger generation is shockingly conformist. They've been raised in an environment of constant phone contact, tracking, and surveillance. Head of security at the school where I teach proudly says, "We've instituted a policy of thousands of bag inspections, and only had 3 people dispute it, usually faculty." I have students come to me freaked out because I don't track their attendance daily every day in our college class. Etc., etc.

haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909029)

hahaha haha HahA HAHAHAHA!

Valve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909041)

Flat management is the future of innovation.

The R&D suggestion is not a bad idea either. For the right price you can hire nonprofit research institutes that live for this kind of work.

Re:Valve (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909115)

I've worked for so called flat organizations. "No one is in charge" becomes "All the jerks think they're in charge."

The problem is, and will always be, that when the a-holes are in charge, bad things happen. Flat organization is a feeble attempt to circumvent the a-holes.

People are hardcoded to associate title with value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911115)

As someone that worked for an organization (small repair shop) that shifted from flat to tiered, the only real change is that suddenly people start demanding wages that reflect their new status and start lashing out when they are denied, even if their actual workload remains the same as it always was.

The organization I worked for eventually went out of business because the "new to management" employees negotiated a buyout of the building's lease behind the company owner's back. He got a call one day telling him to get out by the end of the week. Soon as the last box was loaded onto the moving truck destined for storage in his garage, all of his employees told him they quit. Next day they reopened the shop under their own name and flew a pirate flag for a week. The pirate flag was insult to injury, symbolizing the fact that they had taken everything from the client database to the building itself. Left with no building, no employees, no customers, and a home loan in default, the former owner drank himself to death.

Re:Valve (1)

Phil Urich (841393) | about a year ago | (#43909251)

Your example of Valve proves a different point, however. In the cases where it works, it can be extremely effective, but it takes a high calibre of talent (and much of that talent is interpersonal communications and self-awareness) to pull it off.

Ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909055)

They will be crushed and remoulded into good little cogs or fired and excluded same as every other generation before .

blitzkrieg (1)

brainscauseminds (1865962) | about a year ago | (#43909121)

Not really the best analogy, but give the best empolyees in the company the power to order distant fire and I am sure some additional breakthrough will happen.

Strauss-Howe generational theory (1)

mspring (126862) | about a year ago | (#43909131)

According to this theory, the millenials are a "hero (civic)" type of generation and actually not really authority phobic. []

Re:Strauss-Howe generational theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909233)

Not authority-phobic in the sense that they are adverse to direction, but authority-phobic in the sense that they strongly disagree with the practices of those currently in charge.

Re:Strauss-Howe generational theory (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#43910033)

Every notice how these generational archetype descriptions sound sort of like astrological archetype descriptions?

Re:Strauss-Howe generational theory (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year ago | (#43911075)

And are just as reliable.

kids love authority (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909139)

These are the kids raised with "zero tolerance," were not allowed to walk to school or play outside alone, and received a trophy just for showing up. They think nothing of having their every move tracked by Facebook. They love authority!

Re:kids love authority (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#43909421)

They also do not understand responsibility.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909147)

WTF is a social enterprise?

I guess that's where everyone "inovates" by surfing Facebook all day long on their BYOD iPhone.


Executives innovate? (1)

unimacs (597299) | about a year ago | (#43909159)

Other than a startup, I think it's rare for any innovation to come from the executives.

Re:Executives innovate? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#43909237)

Except for the top 0.1% of humans and those with nothing to lose, nobody innovates. Our entire race is built on greed and safety - and innovation is a danger to the establishment. The truly gifted do innovate, the rest plod along with marginally incremental improvements. Outside of the geniuses, there are those who either have everything or nothing - two conditions which offer the opportunity for idle time.

Successful startups have the 0.1%. Many fail, many aren't really innovative, the rest are lauded as "the new thing."

*pfft* guffah! (4, Interesting)

jeff13 (255285) | about a year ago | (#43909193)

rotfl! I mean really? Really? Sure, smaller companies thrive on this sort of socialized creative commons. It's how ANY creative enterprise is actually innovative. Steve Jobs and Woz didn't do it all themselves, the collective hobby culture they were plugged into stimulated everything that they created. But, once anyone creates something that sells, the corporate 'buy out' crowd shows up (I'm looking at you Bill Gates!) and the CEOs take control. Of course everyone here is aware just how corporations swallow everything, so they can own it. That's their reason for existing.

The driving force of our consumer culture isn't innovation, it's markets. Corporations sometimes, in desperation, might spend some cash to fund innovative creation but why the fuck would creators just work-for-hire and give up their creations to their bosses? In the market place many are well aware that the creative, innovative business model functions for only as long till a corporation comes and buys it. That's the model! That's how most start-ups see their end game.

Besides, corporations often just wait for the government funded research to innovate so they can get that for a song, if not free, and then create that market. That's how computers and the Internet came to us in the first place.

imho, of course.

Re:*pfft* guffah! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#43909619)

But, once anyone creates something that sells, the corporate 'buy out' crowd shows up (I'm looking at you Bill Gates!) and the CEOs take control.

Corporate structure is almost inevitably what happens when a company grows.
The informal structure of small companies rarely scales up along with sales.

As a matter of fact, growing companies can die ugly deaths because they grow too fast.
They literally implode under the weight of managing shipping, distributors, inventory, suppliers, and filling orders.

I might scoff at the shoe company Crocs, but they successfully went from selling 1,000 shoes to selling $1 billion worth of shoes.
You can't do that without a corporate structure.

They'll be authority-phobic... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909215)

...right up until they actually start getting some authority.

Then, lo and behold, a miracle occurs! They suddenly realized that authority is just fine and dandy, as long as they're the ones wielding it! Then it will be "Respect my au-thor-i-tay!"

See also: Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary. "A High Moral Principle met a Vested Interest crossing a bridge..."

diversity your experimental capital! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909279)

TL;DR summary: Leadership revolution incentivized to diversity their experimental capital: values of the social enterprise, not consumerization of IT! Frog blast the vent core!

Should? (1)

stove (38601) | about a year ago | (#43909283)

Should it? Possibly.

Will it? No. It's amazing how well people play along if the alternative is no paycheck at all.

in defense of management (5, Interesting)

anthony_greer (2623521) | about a year ago | (#43909323)

We all have had bad experience with managers but in my experience, good managers are needed. for every one terrific idea there are 5-10 terrible ideas...You cant just have new grads tossing money around without thinking thru how it will work, how much it will cost and how much money it will make and/or time it will save...

If you can prove that your idea is a good one, any competent managment team will go for it, but too many young people just want to put things in because they are new and shiny, that doesn't work so well in business...

I recall a few of my stupid ideas as a 22 year old, I had many outlandishly stupid ideas but I had a great manager who listened to all my goofy ideas and told me why they would not work, then one day I hit pay dirt and came up with an idea that would be able to automate so much of the IT operation that we would not need to hire some temps or interns for mundane tasks. That resulted in a nice bonus but more importantly a great lesson in how to think like a business when considering IT gear/platforms/initiatives.

Good managers are not disposable

Re:in defense of management (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909417)

An example of this would be JP Morgan converting General Electric to AC and reducing Edison's role even though Edison was staunchly DC and the company was originally named after him.

Looking back, DC would never have been able to support the range of power stations and grid that AC supports. Edison, even though a genius, wasn't right on that one.

Re:in defense of management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911263)

Re:in defense of management (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43909701)

You got a piddling bonus for reducing costs worth several salaries per year. You stupid sheep.

Re:in defense of management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909741)

True, but he also got mentoring on exactly why his bad ideas were bad without having to pay of cost of actually developing them and finding out first-hand.

Re:in defense of management (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43910011)

Just sell your bad ideas to idiot vc's.

Re:in defense of management (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43909771)

You got a piddling bonus for reducing costs worth several salaries per year

That's more or less what all programmers do......even Stallman.

Re:in defense of management (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43910003)

Old ones maybe. IE, sheep.

Re:in defense of management (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43910205)

You have an authority problem, kid?

Re:in defense of management (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43910775)

Most of these ideas won't sell anyway. Sure you can automate a process in your own company but it's impossible to sell that automation to others. As soon as you say "we can automate your XYZ process" the other company will just think it's a good idea and make one of their own employees do the same thing. Not every idea is intended to be a marketable product, except that the current culture is so infatuated with the idea of the entrepreneur.

There's no alternative here. You either do you damn job that you were hired to do (ie, make or save the company money) or you throw a tantrum that you deserve more money and get fired instead. What company is going to be so stupid as to waste the money they save by giving it to the guy who thought of the idea of how to save the money? Instead they give a bonus to the person who did the job and move on from there.

Re:in defense of management (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#43910459)

That's what many engineers do for a living bonus or not. What do you expect us to do, set up our own power stations personally instead of saving on running costs with existing ones?

Re:in defense of management (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43910057)

This is all over the 70's, empowered spoiled children, going to work, expecting to get paid for doing nothing, expecting their lame ideas to be gushed over as they were the 'self-esteem' generation. Unfortunately so many of the ideas were simply a way to make one persons life easier, or increase personal power, and did not really take into account the firms overall best interest.

There is this myth that management hate ideas from workers. This is not my experience. I have had many ideas used. I have had some ideas tried and then thrown away. The reality is to have your ideas used you first have them, then you have to be able to show they will be effective, and then you have to be willing to have ideas shot down and try again. For most people they either are not thinking about the problems in terms of the firm, or they get one idea, have it shot down, and give up.

Furthermore I have seen people who have good ideas be promoted and allowed to take on more responsibility. It is how corporate, as lame as it, works. Now obviously you have to work within the corporate culture, and if you can't you won't work at that corporation unless you are very smart and they tolerate you. But you likely won't be moved into management.

Here is why this might be important. The mid late 80's were a pretty bad time, unemployment above 7%, but most of us were able to get job by hustling the newly lucrative computer skills(only high school diploma at that time) into job. Now the employment rate is a little higher, but we are also in a time when firms do not really understand how to apply today's technology, just like back them, and a lot of it has become simple enough that a 20 year old can do some pretty effective stuff. I wonder if people can't get job because they believe articles like this that they do not have to go and sell their ideas, but rather wait for corporate to come to them, prostrated, and beg for the youth wisdom.

Re:in defense of management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911195)

So you pulled the ladder up after yourself, eliminating a way for younger workers to get experience.

Re:in defense of management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911249)

I apologize for that comment. I shouldn't be taking my job hunt frustrations out on someone else. Especially not someone passing down thoughtful advice.

Two track career paths (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43909337)

Some companies have two track career paths. One, you move up as a techie into the management path, right up to executive. Two, you move up a techie path, where you go to Senior Engineer, right up to Distinguished Engineer, a position that has the same rank as an executive. Those Distinguished Engineers are the ones who advise the senior executives on innovation.

Does really it work? I have no idea. Feel free to post your experience.

Distinguished Engineer? I'd label myself as an Extinguished Can-of-Beer.

Re:Two track career paths (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43910813)

Some of those titles though were pretty unglamorous despite being extremely high up the promotion ladder. Ie, the "Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff" which was the title used in by Ma Bell.

dual track ladder was discredited in the 60s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911507)

Except that individual contributors, no matter what level, do not control the financial resources or subject the company to as much risk as people on the management side of the ladder. management gets paid more, a lot more. And there are more positions on the management side. You get promoted to special distinguished principal member of the technical staff when you need to find more room on your office shelves for your second Nobel Prize.

Look for a report from the Sloan School on "dual ladder" googling "sloan school dual ladder" will get numerous hits..

The title is "The Dual Ladder: Motivational Solution or Managerial Delusion"

It's from the 80s, but the research dates back to the 60s.

sounds like (1)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#43909361)

the owners, boards, and upper management are mostly a bunch of old, stuffy, cigar-chomping, technology and change-fearing, pointy-haired bosses, just itching to "pull a blackberry" with their company.

Does this surprise anyone? Good luck clearing them out. They're kings in their kingdom.

The most common way to "reorganize" them we see today is when upper management drives the company into the ground like a telephone pole. Problem tends to be though that these companies have a large stash of money in the bank, and are able to flop after flop after flop before they finally run the coffers dry. They've gotten very good over the years at "controlling their shareholders", ie shoveling the BS with a silver tongue and sincere promises, that the shareholders don't revolt until they're already seeing the headlight in the tunnen. But by then, the company has lost so much momentum and market share that they're often in an unrecoverable nose-dive.

Sorta sad to watch, but I think "change is good". When the system has become unfixable, the best thing to happen is for it to break completely and be re-invented from the ground up, based on modern considerations. (nuke 'n pave) "corporate revolutions" I suppose you could call it. Old companies that won't adapt fade away, while new companies come up and take their place. Reminds me of a forrest. Quit trying to save the old trees, let them die and make room for the new saplings to take their place down the road.

Re:sounds like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909513)

Sounds like you have a terrific opportunity to start your own company, with all you competition so badly broken!

Re:sounds like (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about a year ago | (#43909885)

I've worked in companies of all sizes in my 35 years in the workforce. I've seen 'old, stuffy, cigar-chomping, technology and change-fearing, pointy-haired bosses' in both small and large companies, worked for some medium-sized companies I loved, worked for some small companies where the innovator had no sense of IT at all even though he needed IT do run his ideas. Great idea saying that the 'little guy' like me should have more input, but when he pays my paycheck, he makes the rules.

I've worked for CEOs and CTOs that I thought the world of and while not innovative themselves, recognized talent and allowed the talent to do their job within boundaries. Because they knew what their job was .. to manage the company, not operate it.

I've worked with some truly egotistical moronic peers who had no concept of how bad their ideas were and were always upset they got shot down, by both management and their fellow workers. Who would want any of these people to have a say in anything??

If you don't like your company, and you are skilled enough ... leave for one you do like. If you are stuck with bosses you don't like in a company that is going downhill, then it's only because you aren't good enough. Get over yourself, knuckle down, and do your job. Make sure it's not your fault the company fails.

And please .. stop whining about how you could do a better job. You can't .. if you could, someone would hire you to do it.

The Golden Rule applies (2)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year ago | (#43910385)

i.e. The guy with the gold makes the rules.

Executives don't innovate, they control the money (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year ago | (#43909445)

At my large fortune 100 company, the exec's don't innovate, they don't come up with ideas for the "next big thing", they rely on the propeller heads to come up with new products and solutions.

Now, how we get that product can often land in the lap of the Execs. You can build it internally, you can partner with someone that already has it, or you can buy a company that has the product, services or intellectual property you want.

Technically sharp people often don't want to be challenged in an area where they often have very little experience, namely finance and business justification.

So you've got an idea for a widget. It's gonna be the next big thing. Someone that owns a $10m budget required to build this widget is going to ask the uber dork, "Show me how much we'll get back from this?" What's our addressable market? Penetration rate? Break even point?

Why do they ask these questions?

Because if they blow this $10m on something, and it doesn't work out, they've got to answer to the next person up the proverbial ladder.

Even at slashdot's favorite company, Google, has a "20% free time" and not "$20m invest in whatever you want" policy.

Smart executives surround themselves with smarter people that will advise them on what to do. You think the CEO of GE, IBM, Cisco, Caterpillar knows all the details of what their company is investing in? Nope. But (s)he knows that there is responsibility and more importantly accountability for investment decisions.

No top-down responsibility for innovation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909551)

Steve Jobs laughs at them from the grave.

Really? That is a great idea! (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about a year ago | (#43909679)

Put a bunch of whiney, selfish, over-indulged, arrogant, ethically-challenged, over-grown children who never got over believing they are special and everyone is exactly equal because everyone gets a trophy and have a group history of disrespecting other people's work and money, "should be given the power to spend corporate money on research and development" which means no pre-spending oversight.

What could possibly go wrong?

But of course it should (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909691)

There isn't a single corporate executive that hasn't had their 9th lobotomy as well as 2nd vasectomy to become brainless and ball-less so that they can do nothing without approval from the board that only cares about mining every last cent from the company stock before they drive the company to the bottom of the cesspool.

There should be the corporate carousel that once they reach a certain level, their gem turns red, and they have to either die or run. I'd love to be one of the sandmen to go after them. Would be a blast.

Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909791)

An unreasonable man persists in attempting to adapt his environment to suit himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

These fresh out of college babies are definately unreasonable. Sure they can bring about change. Some good. Some bad. Someone needs to listen to their ideas and decide which are good and which are bad.

I am somewhere in the middle myself. I struggle to get both ends to understand what I have learned from my own experience. The management with their "outdate experience" and the young "know it all" newbies.

Texas Instruments did this for years (4, Interesting)

john.r.strohm (586791) | about a year ago | (#43909933)

I worked for Texas Instruments Defense Systems and Electronics Group from early 1988 through about mid-1999.

TI DSEG had LOTS of R&D money available, and MANY different internal programs for handing it out. The most important one was called IDEA (I don't know if it was an acronym or not, or what it may have stood for). IDEA was designed to hand out small chunks of first-round funding, enough to keep one engineer with a crazy idea that just might work fed and working for a couple of months, while he threw together a detailed study proposal, saying how to do a pilot project to see if there might be something to the idea. IDEA money was EASY to get, and there were multiple paths to it. If you for whatever reason didn't want to go through your management, that was no problem at all: *ANY* IDEA coordinator ANYWHERE IN THE COMPANY could listen to an IDEA pitch from ANYONE, and, if it sounded AT ALL plausible, throw some funding at him.

The whole idea behind IDEA was that most IDEA projects were EXPECTED to fail, but they'd generally fail quickly and cheaply. The ones that didn't fail got more funding, and more detailed investigation. Wash, rinse, and repeat, and every so often something REALLY good would pop up, that would make TI a huge chunk of money, enough to justify all those little failed efforts, and some not-so-little failures as well.

corporate organization is feudal (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year ago | (#43909937)

We all know how messed up much corporate planning, decision making, and management is. They have the stupidest mental shortcuts for evaluating people and projects, and the queerest ideas about what attributes a model employee possesses. How they think and even wish people should behave is wildly unrealistic. So many employees are just playing the game, trying to appear to have the "proper" attitudes, while keeping their real opinions and thoughts to themselves. Management picks loudmouths and hardasses for management positions, mistaking noise and bullying for drive and vision. Instead of thoughtfully evaluating plans on the merits, choosing among them and measuring progress as best they can so they have some idea whether it's feasible and how long it will take, they set impossible deadlines, frantically ply the whips, and when that doesn't work blame the slave labor for letting the company down. They also can't resist working on hidden agendas driven by shockingly unprofessional and even childish motives. An upper manager might well lay off an entire department on trumped up questions about their value to the company, all because an attractive member of it refused a sexual advance. Wag the Dog would have been more likely if it had been about a corporate leader rather than a national leader.

You'd think such messed up organizations would collapse under their own incompetence every time. They do fail rather often, but surprisingly less often than one might think. I can only think a bad business survives in spite of their incompetence, because their competitors are just as incompetent. Or they don't have competitors.

Seems to me the problem is the the downright feudal nature of these organizations. Inheritance has been thoroughly discredited as a way to pick national leaders. But we still pick many corporate leaders that way, and accept it. It's as if ownership is held in the high regard that the monarchy and nobility once enjoyed. The rich are the new nobility. When the person at the top is unimaginitive and plodding, yet egotistical, arrogant and contemptuous towards the "lower classes", and also jealous and resentful of respect towards scientists, engineers, and other meritorious people, the company is not going to be well run. Ford Motor Company has had this problem. Used to refer to Henry Ford as "King Henry". What restrains them from acting too tyrannical and arbitrary is that employees are free to leave. Unless the economy stinks, or they manage to set up a company town, and collude with their competitors not to hire each other's former employees. Maybe do a bit of union busting as well. Top management strives entirely too much to achieve such dubious control. Sickening to see company resources expended for such purposes, but there it is.

Re:corporate organization is feudal (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#43910527)

You've nailed why a lot of the rest of the world shakes their head and mumbles "American management" - the rebuilding of the feudal system where some idiot son called Edsel gets to run a company just because he has the right parent or the right friends. It tends to happen in places that are "too big to fail" so it's seen by smaller fish as being a success.

C-Level Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43909961)

I fired a client a few years ago. Their major innovation from the C level was making it possible for the software they write for airlines to charge fees for more/everything.

Responsibility? (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#43909993)

what are CEOs actually 'responsible' for? Responsible implies consequences. Last I heard the penalty for wreaking a company's net worth was a multimillion dollar bonus.

Manager biodiesel (1)

Maj Variola (2934803) | about a year ago | (#43910053)

You can often turn a manager into 10-20 L of biodiesel without anyone noticing..

Authority-Phobic? Really? (2)

Maltheus (248271) | about a year ago | (#43910335)

I've found it shocking how well younger folk fit into corporate life and have always felt like this is the least rebellious generation ever.

Typically, whenever management makes some absurd proposal (like some kind of odd way to track metrics), people sigh, roll their eyes, and figure out some way to comply with the letter of the mandate, while saving as much time as possible to focus on actually getting the product out the door.

My younger co-workers not only show no signs of resistance (even behind closed doors), they embrace the absurdity and offer up more of it. They end up complicating the process, even more than the middle manager wanted (since they were also just going for the checkmark). Hell, I've never even seen anyone under the age of 30 (these days) drink a beer at a social outing (even when their managers and everyone else is). Youngin's seem so domesticated these days.

Judging by all these articles, I guess my experience isn't quite the norm.

Re:Authority-Phobic? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910879)

Social values change every generation!

Re:Authority-Phobic? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911279)

Perhaps they have a new family, mortgage, and student loan debt that can't be discharged.

"only following orders" union mentality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43910417)

The fallacy in all of this is that anyone working as a member of non-bargaining unit technical staff knows that union members first response is always "just following orders". Bitch and moan, cry and whine, but NEVER take responsibilty for ANYTHING!

Yes (1)

kuhnto (1904624) | about a year ago | (#43910481)

Yes please

Responsibility can go anywhere. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43910493)

But power and pay check they go to the top honchos no matter what. The raison d`etendre of a modern corporation is to squeeze as much profit as possible, dodge as much tax as possible and send it all as pay, bonus and stock options for the top executives.

Kaizen vs Big Bang (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#43910821)

Slow and steady innovation and improvement pretty well must come from the bottom up. The whole boots on the ground thing. Companies that are dictatorial about this are just leaving a huge amount of wasted potential untapped while annoying just about everybody. But often a company needs to make a big change. This sort of change is scary and can be painful. This is where a leader with "vision" is required. The later is where Steve Jobs and Apple seemed to have excelled. He had the vision and made it happen all the while having a zillion employees minding the details. Without Steve Jobs Apple products will probably continue to improve but will slowly miss the next wave of innovation.

I am fairly sure that the electric car is the next big thing in cars. For me a car with around 100 miles range would be great. There are few things in my life beyond that range. The Tesla with its 200 mile range is awesome and we can all assume that between batteries and other improvements the range will only get better. Yet the big automakers can't seem to understand that they need to make the leap. Things like the leaf are sub 100 miles and the Volt still had a piston engine in it. So this is a case where Tesla is now in the cycle of steady improvements of the next generation while most of the other car companies keep improving the past generation of fuel driven cars.

Tesla's future depends on gas prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911119)

Tesla has the luxury electric car good so far. As for the low cost manufacturing part, the big car companies are great at that. I guess Tesla's fate depends on the price of gas. The sooner gas prices jump, the sooner more price sensitive people go after low end electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, the faster the big car companies go through the learning curve in electric cars. The customers of the Model S can afford high gas prices. The Nissan Leaf customers, not so much.

Bootstrap (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about a year ago | (#43910885)

The corporate culture does need to be shaken up, as does the federal government, as do the big banks. They feel their control eroding by the day, which is why they're squeezing as hard as they can now. So good luck getting them to hand out startup capital to millenials. And the people making the decision where to allocate capital are MBAs who by definition defend the status quo; they want to stifle innovation if they can, or control it if they can't. The result is we all get a world that continues to Suck while our very serious problems mount quickly.

We are on the cusp of a global revolution (if you like that word) or a paradigm shift (if you don't) that requires we bypass the gatekeepers of capital. That's part of what the crowdfunding movement is about. But what we really need to do is relearn or invent anew a more fundamental skill: how to make something from nothing, using nothing but our wits, our will, our heart, and the strength of our own two hands.

It's very hard. But unless you can walk through that test of fire, acid, and darkness you are nothing more than another wannabe driven by callow greed.

Hahahahahaha (1)

sackofdonuts (2717491) | about a year ago | (#43911291)

Man that was a funny write up. Giving the keys to the kingdom to young upstarts and relatively new employee is hilarious. Every work with these kids? They can't balance their own checkbooks without their mothers' helping. And they expect these same kids to spend millions of dollars on their pet projects. Sure, let it happen. We could always use all kinds of mods to World of Warcraft. The facebook and twitter models are not the norm in the world of business.

Marshall and Goddard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43911433)

Are you kidding? Hotbeds of innovation, with process out the yinyang (have you done the RIDs on your NPR7123 compliant review documents following your NPR 7120.5 rev E project plan, following NPR 7150.2 software development practices?)

Marshall, founded for all intents and purposes by Nazi refugees from Peenemunde? Goddard, where everything is contracted to beltway bandits, and design reviews are more about authenticating the existence of design documents, rather the contents of the documents.

You bet there's a battle between the values of the social enterprise and the values of the consumerization of IT and the values of tradition.

Consider Apple... (1)

jklappenbach (824031) | about a year ago | (#43911655)

Apple with Steve Jobs vs Apple without Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was one of the most hands on CEO's I've ever heard about. He was in the trenches, interfacing directly with developers and anyone else along the production chain that proved to be a critical path to deployment. He came up with seemingly impossible ideas that no one else would have the guts to suggest. And then he rode point on the entire organization to ensure that it happened. That's what a good CEO can do, and what will almost never happen by democracy.

That is not to say that the paychecks of most of the CEOs out there are warranted. Quite the opposite. There's no reason why a CEO, on average, should be making more than 5 times the salary of the average employee. But to discount the role that can be played by someone with the talent, drive, and innovation of someone like Steve Jobs is to misunderstand the dynamics of a corporation.
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