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Historical

Layoff Report Day 8

The rumors have been flying over the past few days, as various organizations within the company have meetings to discuss the impending doom. The latest facts that I’ve heard, for my organization, is that notifications will take place between November 11th and November 13th, and that people will be allowed to stay until November 14th, though network access will be disabled.

In other news, I have to take issue with one of the arguments put forth in a case on displaying identification to police in Nevada.

The Nevada Supreme Court had said the case had implications for the government’s terrorism fight. “We are at war against enemies who operate with concealed identities and the dangers we face as a nation are unparalleled,” wrote Chief Justice Cliff Young.

Personally, I don’t quite see the connection between having to identify yourself to police and terrorism. Essentially, if someone is engaged in an activity considered illegal, or suspected of enganging in such an activity, then I would suspect grounds for detainment would already exist. On the other hand, simply being uncooperative with police strikes me as rude, certainly, but not criminal. And stating that you’re only targeting “suspicious” people is a low threshold, as many people can be engaged in activities which outsiders may deem as such in an unfamiliar context, will the activities are in truth very innocent.

And finally, in BusinessWeek’s latest issue, the writers of the cover story on Dell, in some ways, miss the point. They argue that Dell also faces an innovation dilemma. Its penny-pinching ways leave little room for investments in product development and future technologies, especially compared with rivals.

Dell’s focus is specifically not to innovate in the traditional sense. The reason that Dell partners so closely with companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and Lexmark is to leverage their R&D and their innovation. When you consider that Dell simply buys disparate yet (primarily) standardized parts, assembles them in to a finished product, and ships them to customers, it becomes clear how there is little need for them to invest heavily in R&D. The maker of the parts Dell is purchasing has already done this, and the standards in the technology industry ensure that different parts will function together.

Oh, there is one last thing. I love how a company’s stock price is seen as the final arbiter of a company’s success. Take this line: Qwest stock is down 14% since Notebaert arrived on June 16, 2002, compared with a 5% decline for the Standard & Poor’s Telecom Services Index. Given the rationality of the stock markets (just look at any chart of the Nasdaq that runs from 1997 to 2002), it would be facetious of me to question any statements such as the one above. The stock is underperforming! The company MUST be terrible, and we SHOULD just throw the bum out who’s running it. He’s been there since June, 2002, so that’s sixteen months! Sixteen MONTHS! It should have doubled by now. Tripled. Outperformed by 500%!

The belief in building lasting value in enterprises does not appear to be shared by the writers and editors at BusinessWeek, and on Wall Street as well, and I find that more disappointing than words can convey. Building a strong enterprise is a long-term process, and one that short term fluctuations in stock price should neither affect nor be considered meaningful. And yet the extreme shortsightedness of BusinessWeek and Wall Street, with such an intense focus on short term swings, obscures this truth and emphasizes the short term at the expense of actually having vision. Especially since vision usually has a cost.

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