Thomas Stobie’s Suggestions for Corporate America

The difference between following my suggestions and not can amount to over 25% or more of your annual expenses and a reduction in new revenues.

If you would like to discuss any of these further please contact me.

Index of Suggestions

  1. Actively Manage Technology
  2. Board of Directors include Technical People
  3. Communicate the Strategic Vision
  4. Corporate Strategic Technical Planning
  5. Corporate Technology Leadership
  6. Employee Advocates
  7. Employee Friendly Human Resources
  8. Employee Reuse Plan
  9. Encourage Outside the Borders Thinking
  10. Executive Technical Advisory Boards
  11. Find Good People and Create Jobs for them
  12. 401K Plans Invest in Strategic Development
  13. Honest Employee Evaluations
  1. Provide Company Lodging near Major Installations
  2. Provide Long-term Stock Options to all Employees
  3. Recognize Exceptional Technical Performers
  4. Recognize Families as Full Time
  5. Solid Executive Leadership
  6. Strategic Committment
  7. Teach Management Decision Making
  8. Technical Auditors
  9. Technical Talent Pools
  10. Understand the Pitfalls of Systems Development
  11. Use Auditors with No Conflict of Interest
  12. Virtually Centralized Information
  13. Zero Tolerance for Corporate Politics

The Suggestions

  1. Actively Manage Technology

    Corporations needs to actively manage how they use technology to deliver value and support to their customers. For most modern corporations technology management is as important as human resource management.

    Why?

    Mismanagement of technology by corporations cost their stockholders billions of dollars annually and usually is the result of executives who do not understand technology listening to subordinates who do not understand technology.


  2. Board of Directors include Technical People

    To proper represent and protect the stockholders high-tech corporations should have technical individuals on their board of directors to ask the tough technical questions prior to major decision making.

    Why?

    A few good technical questions from someone who understands technologies can avoid large investments in technically challenged endeavors while focuses resources where they will do most good.


  3. Communicate the Strategic Vision

    A corporation should share its high level vision with those employees involved in any planning process and encourage their input and feedback which should make a difference to the vision and may result in changes to it.

    Why?

    The technical individuals who perform the detailed planning must know where the company desires to go, in order to make good decisions of what should be done to meet both short term needs as well moving towards the strategic vision. Too often the vision ends up lost in management with the technical people not informed and the vision developed without their input.


  4. Corporate Strategic Technical Planning

    This function consists of comprehensive strategic planning on technical issues, such as information technology, to achieve the corporate vision and maximize the use of resources, human, machine, and financial, throughout the organization. It provides guidance and leadership to all organizations with the corporation on technical issues. It maintains a holistic view of what the corporation does and how things fits together.

    Why?

    Given the current state of technology, without common guidance, individual organizations will use their own methods and may deploy technologies in a way that hinders the sharing of information among the corporation and the ability to adapt to the future. Many organizations today spend most of their resources trying to get technology deployed in a very limited manner to work with other organizational needs. If corporations want the ability to rapidly adapt and communicate within the corporation the vital information of the business, solid strategic technical planning is required and in most cases, requires strong executive support.


  5. Corporate Technology Leadership

    Today's modern corporations need strong technical leaders to bring about an efficient corporate-wide use of technology.

    Why?

    Lack of integration costs corporations billions of dollars a year through inefficencies, duplication of efforts, inability to adapt, and inability to rapid introduce new or modified products or take advantage of market opportunities. Many organizations complicate matters by not having strong corporate technology leadership and appointing non-technical individuals in charge of technical matters.


  6. Employee Advocates

    These members of Human Resources are tasked with representing the employees in the organization, looking for internal opportunities for individual employees, working with the organization to create special positions for exceptional skilled employees, employee career planning, and related pro-employee activities.

    Why?

    In the current corporate environment, employees are treated as disposable resources, assumed to be usually wrong in conflicts with management, stuck in positions with little advancement, forced to look outside the organization for significant career advancement. With employee advocates, morale and retention should improve resulting in increases in employee productivity and corporate profitability.


  7. Employee Friendly Human Resources

    Build a human resource department that not only manages the recruitment of employees, but also takes care of them in ways besides the management of benefits. This type of human resources organization should incorporate the following suggestions as well: Employee Advocates, Employee Reuse Plan, and Find Good People and Create Jobs for them.

    Why?

    Good employees are valuable resources, that should be encourage, rewarded, and cared for and not treated as a disposable resource. With a quality employee friendly human resources, employee turnover should be reduced and productivity increased.


  8. Employee Reuse Plan

    Large organizations undergoing change should have a plan on how they will reuse displaced employees.

    Why?

    Trained loyal employees are a valuable asset and organizations should try to retain them when downsizing deparments by moving them into meaningful positions and making the process as easier as possible. Many organization force the employees to search for new positions relying mostly on their personal contacts to retain employment and even then downsizing tends to take place in mass and haphazardly adversely affecting the employees involved.


  9. Encourage Outside the Borders Thinking

    Organizations should encourage outside ideas and facilitate examining them to see if they make business sense, rewarding good ideas.

    Why?

    In most organizations today, not only is outside of the box thinking discouraged, but ideas from outside the borders (of the organizations) are discouraged, discarded, and almost impossible to even be heard by decision makers, even when they could help the organization's profitability significantly.


  10. Executive Technical Advisory Boards

    Senior executives should have advisory boards composed of the top technical people (as opposed to management positions) in the corporation to advise them to technical issues.

    Why?

    Today, most executives are too busy to be immersed sufficiently in the complexities of technology to understand technology well enough to properly manage it. The advisory board consisting of technical experts from throughout the corporation, can provide them with the advice necessary to proper manage today's high tech corporations.


  11. Find Good People and Create Jobs for them

    Human Resource Departments should be on the lookup for highly skilled professionals talented in many areas and work to create suitable positions for them.

  12. Why?

    Multi-talented highly skilled professionals tend to be major assets to an organization and the positions they are best suited for are rarely dreamed up by organizations prior to hiring the individual and customing a job to fit his talents. The hiring departments typically create generic job descriptions using their guesses on the sort of people needed to fill their needs.


  13. 401K Plans Invest in Strategic Development

    Permit employees to elect to have some of their 401K plans allocated to sponsors strategic development in the corporation and sharing part of their benefits.

    Why?

    If the money is only permitted to be spent on strategic development, the strategic development will be done and the corporation will benefit significantly if the strategic development is well thought out. In most organizations getting funding for strategic development is very difficult even when business cases should significant return on investment.


  14. Honest Employee Evaluations

    Use employee evaluations that focus on what they employee does and his worth to the organization. Avoid the use of quota-based rating schemes.

    Why?

    Every employee is a unique individual and should be rated on their performance without regard to the performance of others within the organization. Quota-based rating schemes assume that managers will hire a full range of employees ranging from the really good to the really bad. Good Managers should hire good people. A well managed department should have mostly excellent performers, utilizing each person's skills in the best way for the organization. In addition there are other circumstances that can occur, for instance, a good manager might choose to have two highly paid excellent employees rather than three lesser paid employees who can do the job but not with the same quality of excellence.


  15. Provide Company Lodging near Major Installations

    Acquire lodging facilities near major employee sites for use of travelling employees and visiting company guests (at a fee to them).

    Why?

    Organizations spend a lot of money lodging travelling employees. At sites where the Organization has a major presence, it is more cost effect to own the lodging facilities and to providing staff for them.


  16. Provide Long-term Stock Options to all Employees

    By giving all employees annual long-term stock options with the strike price at some multiple of the current price (such as 150% or 200%) vesting in 5 to 10 years or normal retirement (at age 65 or later).

    Why?

    Retention of employees generally promotes stability, higher productivity, and improved employee loyalty, thus generally improving the bottom line.


  17. Recognize Exceptional Technical Performers

    Corporations should recognize that exceptional technical individuals are rarer and more valuable than some levels of managers.

    Why?

    Many corporations force exceptional individual contributers into management to recieve better pay. Many of these people are much better individual contributers than they are managers and would do better in a high paying non-management role. Unfortunately, many of the salary determination systems value management above everything else and do not permit well-paid individual contributers. Ultimately this costs the organization, not only in the lost of a good individual performer but also by poor management.


  18. Recognize Families as Full Time

    For purposes of benefits, recognizes spouses who together put in at least 48 hours a week as full time.

    Why?

    If both spouses work for the organization, recognize that they have family obligations and consider the total time worked by both spouses in determining eligibility for benefits, if each spouse alone would not qualify.


  19. Solid Executive Leadership

    Executives and to a lesser degree the rest of management must lead and make the tough decisions and not delegate arbitrary across the board cuts, increases, and staff reductions. Quality decision making should be performed by these executives with them taking all the facts for a corporate perspective and making solid decisions for their organizations.

  20. Why?

    Too many executives avoid making decisions by arbitarily delegating the same percentage for cuts or salary increases rather then evaluating the situation and doing the best for the business. This means that organizations that if properly funded could make a significant positive impact are further reduced rather than increased as is good for the organization. Executives must lead and make the tough decisions for the organization.


  21. Strategic Commitment

    Corporation should make solid commitments to their strategic vision (if your corporation does not have one, it is hurting or will be hurting badly)

    Why?

    Most companies today focus on day-to-day management (AKA stock price management) and neglect their long term vision. Budget cuts typically affect long-term projects first or are applied arbitarily across the board adversely affecting long term corporate value. By designating the strategic projects and protecting them, executive can make significant headway towards achieving the strategic vision and thus improve shareholder value long-term.


  22. Teach Management Decision Making

    Teach all levels on management how to make good fact-based decisions and reward those who perform their jobs and make the tough decisions. Good decision-making involves looking at all factors and acting on the best interests of the overall enterprise.

    Why?

    Too many people in management do not how to or choose not to make good fact-based decisions, particularly on tougher issues. They feel safer using arbitary pass-down management techniques rather than properly evaluating the situation and making the best overall resolution.


  23. Technical Auditors

    Corporations that use or rely on a lot of technology should use technology auditors to examine how well they are using their technologies and interworking them. These auditors should be required to report annually to the shareholders.

    Why?

    Poor Technology Management costs Corporations Millions or even Billions of Dollars annually. By making the shareholders aware of the shoftfalls in technology management, it becomes more likely that senior executives will take actions to remedy the situations and stop a significant part of the unnessecary expenses and lost opportunities.


  24. Technical Talent Pools

    Organize your technical people into talent pools, rather then by organization or system.

    Why?

    Too often talent is not well used due to corporate politics, knowledge tends to cluster in a few key individuals, and integration is made much more difficult, all adversely effecting the bottom line.


  25. Understand the Pitfalls of Systems Development

    Executives should understand the pitfalls that can occur with systems development and endeavor to avoid them.

    Why?

    Too often executives and their underlings are unaware of these pitfalls, so they impact their organizations significantly, costing millions, billions, or trillions of dollars.


  26. Use Auditors with No Conflict of Interest

    Financial auditors should have no conflict of interest in doing their work. This means that any other services that they or their affliates provide can not be used within the organization.

    Why?

    When an organization uses a firm that audits it for any other purposes, there is a conflict of interest, where the auditors may be influenced to cover up the wrong doings of their affliates.


  27. Virtually Centralized Information

    For a corporate user's point of view, the information of the corporation should be easily available to any employee who needs it to do his job. In reality, the information is probably highly distributed and replicated for performance and security reasons.

    Why?

    By creating the appearance that all the information is available from one source using common terminology and cross-indexed, employees should be able to perform their functions more efficiently and the quality of communications in the organization should improve as well. In many organizations, systems development is poorly handled with lackluster integration at best. Click here to go to my list of Systems Development Pitfalls.


  28. Zero Tolerance for Corporate Politics

    Establish a Zero Tolerance Policy for Corporate Politics that adversely affect to organization. Include a reporting procedure to allow employees to anonymously report offenses of the policy along with a associated resolution process.

    Why?

    Politics dominate the management of major corporations, usually to achieve personal objectives at the expense of corporate ones. This significantly impacts the bottom line of the organization. Employees who oppose the politics on behalf of the corporate good are personally penalized in most organizations.



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© 2000-2006 by Thomas A. Stobie, SFO

Last modified on 6 Nov 2008.