Company Size

12 Apr, 2004 | TdpComputers

I seem to have spent my working life in the employ of large organisations. And by large, I'm not talking a few hundred employees, I'm talking tens of thousands.

One was public sector, the others were private sector, and despite the general claims by my colleagues in public sector employment that the private sector was run so much more efficiently, I can say that that certainly isn't accurate in my experience.

In fact, the similarities were staggeringly close between the two. So I started to wonder why, and then it hit me, they were just too big.

Most organisations struggle to gain numbers, size and power for years, decades, they aim to be a major player/power in their sector, until they're enormous. Just look at the big guns in the IT sector: IBM, HP/Compaq, Dell, Microsoft, they're all mammoth companies, employing tens of thousands of people worldwide (at least).

Unfortunately, while this may be great for shareholders and the company directors, maybe even for business, it sucks for everything else. Productivity goes through the floor because no one can manage (no matter how good they are) an entity of that size efficiently.

Communication between departments becomes difficult and non-existant from the management, what does get through has been passed by so many hands it's like chinese whispers: the message becoming a cryptic clue of the orginal.

Distrust breeds everywhere as rumours are spread, management becomes distant from the workforce, events appear random as the messages of what and why never got through. The workers see management constantly on jollies, in meetings or on training courses (i.e. not actually working), while making use of their extra benefits like more holiday and car park spaces (usually nearer the door).

Big companies are like oil tankers, great in a straight line, they can weather the tough seas, but they can't react to market forces, to new technology, they can't go off in new directions quickly or easily, every course change takes plenty of planning and lots of time. And despite all that, given a bad captain they can run aground and cause devastation in the environment for years (the disaster being that so many good people are out of work but the dumbass who caused it gets a $million 'golden parachute').

No, my advice, stay small, keep the communication personal (no matter how much they say 'ring me direct, I'm happy to hear from you' no one ever will, and they'll never be in to take it anyhow), take care of your employees. We hate nothing more than being referred to by our employee numbers and called 'resources.' For Gods sake get rid of as much management as possible, the workers at the coal face provide your income, they are your highest priority after your customers.

On a more personal note, and speaking from experience, sack all the purchasing/contracts team and hire people who aren't on commission. They don't care if they negotiate a contract that won't make you a dime because they know their bonus will be in the bank long before the problems arise. And get someone who knows about the real world application of what your buying/negotiating in there to work with them.

Communication is the first thing to go in a big company, and it's fundamentally important, so cut the inter-department rivalries and bickering and make them work together, you'll be 10 times more efficient.

And if anyone fancies paying £100/h for my corporate management suggestions, you know where you can reach me.