A Genuine Concern for Corporate America
I see many indicators of imminent doom, let’s get started:
1) Revenue vs. Profit: Whatever happened to margin & profit? Does anybody care anymore? The stock market sure doesn’t. “We serve over 20 million people in 24 markets!” Good for you, those are large numbers, but you’re losing $400 million dollars a year. Even the dullest of 6-year-olds knows that they can’t sell you lemonade at their lemonade-stand for less than it costs them to buy it at the store. These ankle biters also know that they’re gonna be in big trouble with Papa if they sell underpriced lemonade to the entire neighborhood. Yet, somehow, 40 years later, this once cunning entrepreneur is not only running a highly unprofitable business but pimping it out as far and wide as possible.
2) Golden Parachutes: If you’re the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company, do you really care if you fail? A bunch of minions that make 100,000x less than you do will hit the unemployment lines but that ain’t you. No, you cruise on out into an early retirement with a $50M severance package. Or half a billion if you’re that charlatan bitch from WeWork. How impossibly broken is a system that rewards failure? Golden Parachute???!!! Fuck you! You should be treated like the pariah and disgrace that you are: Tarred and feathered and dragged to the town square as the peasants (a.k.a. employees) spit and throw lettuce at you.
3) Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Really!? Are we serious with this shit? You hate your customers so much that you make us talk to a dumb robot for 10 minutes before finally getting to a live operator. The particularly cruel companies manage to sprinkle in five minutes of Kenny G. during this experience as well. When your over-priced consultant analyzed the NPV of converting customer service into glorified answering machines did he factor in the images of people screaming “CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!!!” into their phone and promptly discontinuing their relationship with you? Me personally, I hit the keypad buttons with the speed of a college virgin playing Madden until the answering machine short circuits and transfers me to someone in Manila. I swear that whoever invented IVR is in the same blood line as the savages who came up with the thumb screw and iron chair.
4) Proliferation of Vendors: Half of our companies don’t even make anything anymore. They’re basically just organizing and branding bodies that vend everything out. I’m amazed at the number of mid-sized companies I work with that have 50-100 vendor relationships. It’s a calamity waiting to happen. For starters, contrary to the original hypothesis, sourcing components and functions from vendors makes your business significantly less nimble than if you did it in-house because anytime you need to change your business model even the slightest bit your vendors don’t give a shit. “That’s not in my scope of work.” Ooopsy. Better spend the next 18 months formulating and vetting new contracts with 50 sets of finance, procurement and legal departments. Worse yet, your supply chain is as vulnerable as a late-stage Jenga formation: A handful of poor saps in Laos get their asses kicked in a bar-brawl and next thing you know everything downstream is fucked and you can’t manufacture product for a week.
5) Turnover: Your employees can’t stand you. Plain and simple. The average American works at their job for 3 years before switching. How telling and how pathetic is that? Much of this can be attributed to the fact that most of your workforce are whiny bitches - but much of it is also cause your management team blows. Micromanagers, morons who can’t see the forest for the trees, sycophants, insecure wieners who regard their best employees as threats… the list goes on. Turnover is expensive. Pay people and give them the bandwidth to do their job. Use the cost savings from all the idiot recruiters you no longer need to give your high performers more cash.
Despite all the negatives though, America still has the best corporate landscape in the world. The Europeans? Don’t make me laugh. Half their day is spent on either cigarette or espresso breaks. Africa? Make sure you dedicate 40% of your company budget to government “facilitation payments”. China!? Their companies install nets outside their windows to keep employees from voluntarily lunging to their deaths.
Thus, next time you hear: “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand you. Let me read you the menu options again from the beginning.” Resist the urge to scream and smash. Instead, think about the alternatives. Within seconds you’ll be feeling warm and tingly. God Bless ‘Merica Baby!