Monday, June 22, 2015

CORPORATE HORROR STORIES: Part I



Sometimes I wonder if the aggregate of the problems of this world is because of greed. This realisation has troubled me no end. Now greed pervades everything: sports, entertainment, publishing, broadcasting, software programming, etc. When I was starting in content writing for websites I was told by my manager that “everything is available on the net, you just have to copy and paste.” I followed his instructions and did likewise. Perversely it might seem, now, he is the manager of some company in the US and doing well. His instructions to his programmers were, “don’t try to invent the wheel, take the code from the source, paste it.” (Source code was available online from every website.) His motive was greed and how to make millions. He didn’t know then that his stilted philosophy would result in job loss for twenty people working under him. In those days from a poky little office in the Millennium Business Park our company made five million dollars a year by copying things from others san any fear of copyright infringement. Then, one fine day, the company shut down rendering us jobless. The reason was Google can easily detect copied content and can punish the site by giving low exposure and a low ranking in web searches. So greed didn’t pay and I had to find another job.

Earlier in my career I was general manager of a small publishing firm. I had risen from the ranks by sheer hard work. I had invested a lot of time and energy to build up that organisation: invented new systems, streamlined billing, dirty-ed my hands learning about how to run a publishing company. The company was doing well and there was considerable goodwill among the advertisers. The owner would greedily extend his deadline for ads that came in late so that he could earn a good profit for that month.  I became worried as the issues started coming late. The January issue would come in March and so on. The effect was that the magazine got so delayed that there came a day when we couldn’t catch up. I told the publisher to miss a few issues but he wouldn’t do that. Advertisers saw the foolishness of their ads appearing after a few months and stopped releasing ads. The magazine died a natural death and with it ended whatever small dreams I had nurtured.

That’s the predicament of most greedy organisations of today. They think their greed can substitute for enterprise and energy. They – like Gordon Gekko - think being greedy is good. But the thing about greed is that it gives rise to more greed. More greed then leads to confusion among the ranks, the foot soldiers get disoriented. Then the company, the enterprise starts dying and nobody can stop the decline in the company’s health because the top people are still thinking in terms of greed. Once the decline starts it is unstoppable, the end result is a lot of fights in the office, recriminations, finger pointing and death of a viable business.


Watch this space. More of this to come. 

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