Recently I came across some of the corporate memos in my file cabinet that I wrote over twenty years ago. I have many more memos but these five are worthy of using for this discussion.
As a corporate employee in a global firm, we were expected to contribute to the company’s goals through our best efforts and offer suggestions and or opinions through our management. If you took your job professionally and proactively, you wrote memos and prepared yourself to explain/defend them to your management.
My company had a culture that was decades in the making and yet evolving at a pace faster than many in management would prefer. It was the nature of the global economy to force changes in global corporations. If you were an astute employee, you paid attention to what you saw coming in the company as a result of external forces on the firm.
The group I belonged to when I wrote these memos were a group of intelligent employees who performed their particular job duties very well. We were a technology support group and we were proud of our positions within the company.
In January 1991 our group was charged by executive management to be the group to consider and recommend the technologies used in the firm. It was not a blessing for many reasons.
As with all large companies, the firm had internal political issues and various departments and regions wanted to own the technology vision regardless of what executive management wanted. I think our group was selected to lead so that the other factions had a prime target to attack instead of granting us any real authority to lead. That realization took me over a year to fully comprehend, by then I had already become a pebble in someone’s shoe.
I can’t say that every one of my or the others in the group ideas were always the absolute correct action to take. My boss had helped me understand how to make better business arguments in my memos and not rely solely on my technical experience to shape corporate technology direction. I tried to do that in these five memos that led to additional discussion with management.
These memos in pdf format hopefully demonstrate five times when I tried to influence the technology direction of the firm at critical times and was ignored. At the time I was very frustrated knowing the group was losing the battle of our technology leadership vision. I have obscured some identifying information because that information has no external bearing on the content itself.
On a few memos, I wrote some handwritten notes years later that reflect my assessment of my memos long after the events I warned about finally arrived…
- The Shape Of Things To Come – January 1, 1992
- Schedule of Learning – January 29, 1992.
- Delineation Of The TSU Vision – February 24, 1992
- Major Accomplishments for 1992 – December 16, 1992
- Software Standards and Licensing – March 8, 1993
As the years rolled by I came to realize much of the group ideas were correct when the company spent huge amounts of money for failed global technology infrastructure projects—managed by unqualified technical people who were not familiar with the complex corporate culture in the firm and misunderstood the needs.
In the two decades that followed these memos, I came to know far too many companies failed to recognize the coming rapid changes disrupted by the global economy. I believe many employees in those other companies tried to make course correction changes ahead of time. Some may have actually succeeded, they were fortunate if they did.
I believe those of us in my old group moved on to better fortunes. We took with us our personal and collective experiences and evolved with the changing times. I hope at least some of the content in these five memos helps those of you still in corporate life.