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Large businesses are always efficient, right?

Can you call a business that makes 20+ million dollars a year successful if its entire corporate staff is afraid of upper management and morale is low?

What if this company encounters major business emergencies on a monthly, if not weekly basis, and yet the management staff still goes home at 5 o’clock and sleeps soundly?

What if this company were able to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on mistakes and not learn anything?

Yet at the end of the year they turned a profit.

Are they successful?

By Chris Tingom

Principal of Tornado Design, a Phoenix, AZ based web consultancy

4 replies on “Large businesses are always efficient, right?”

I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question.

If it isn’t, then I’d say three things:

1) this may be an outsider’s view of things based on a limited data set. It may actually be better than it looks. If it’s based on an insider’s, it’s possible that the situation may not be as bad as it seems to one person. It may be just that bad but it’s impossible to know one way or the other without specifics.

2) What are the gross revenues, of which $20 million is profit? If they’re $7 billion annually, then this is a very unsuccessful business. If they’re $25 million, then this is a huge success.

3) Your terminology, bereft of specifics, is very woozy. For example, “… entire corporate staff is afraid …” seems unlikely. I doubt that the statement is informed from substantive polling and I further doubt that fear is the right emotion for the majority.

Another: I find it hard to believe that a company can “… [encounter] major business emergencies on a monthly, if not weekly basis …” and still stick around. If that’s the case, then the management of the company is amazing. Business emergencies on the order of 12 to 52 per year mean that the company is operating in a highly unstable environment–usually such situations bankrupt the company.

Finally, the fact that they can “blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on mistakes and not learn anything” doesn’t really mean much. What are the mistakes? Were they forays into new lines of business that didn’t pan out? Did they buy technology that didn’t generate enough revenue? And how can you know that they didn’t learn anything? The only way I can think of is if they make the same mistake over and over, but even then it’s difficult to say exactly whether that’s a bad thing. If they think they’re on to something big, then it’s hardly rotten to keep at it even if several tries don’t produce results.

That being said, they are probably boneheads. I’ve seen exactly the sort of thing that you describe at a previous employer and I hated it. I’m just saying that it might not be as bad as you make it out.

I would have to see one of these companies to believe it. I mean, you may make $20MM in one year, but if you sit on your ass while Rome burns, you’re likely to end up out of business the following year!

I’m not sure how “real-world” the scenario you pose really is. I still believe that sustained success comes from hard work – or at least VERY smart work 😉

Good comments, everyone. I’ll have to respond more tonight but yes it’s a real world situation, yes it’s all happening right now, and yes they make a huge profit. Private company, too but they could go public.

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