Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Demise of the Enterprise

Everything is shutting down. Like a patient in intensive care it's breathing, but just barely. Being on life support is just existence, not life. And that's exactly what is happening in the Enterprise. The life is gone. There is no zest, no excitement. It's just an existence on a respirator. The lights come one, people show up, they do work, they go home, and it all starts again the next day. Like zombies of the enterprise, they walk, they talk, they work, but they are lifeless.

The quality of working life is non-existent. There is no Office Supply area near the copier like there used to be. Just empty shelves and a few bent paper clips. There are a few discarded manila folders scared by torn paper labels. And some old binders with clear sleeve fronts still proclaiming the title of the old contents. But the sleeve insert is long gone, as well as the contents. The title remains because the toner residue stained the cover.

From the moment I enter the Enterprise it's apparent that this was once a great ship. But like all ships exposed to the elements, it needs care. The bridges connecting the parking decks with the main office buildings leak with rain water, water stains bleed through the ceiling paint. It's taken some time for the Enterprise to atrophy. It takes three miles to stop an oil tanker. This Oil Tanker's pilot has gone to sleep and the ship has run aground. And like any ship, it's beauty has become tarnished by inaction. And like the Titanic, it has been left to rot at the bottom of the quarterly Profit and Loss sheets. There is no vision or budget to improve itís function.

Contractors and off-shore workers are hired and "let go" as frequently as I change my underwear. Everyday someone different has joined the team . . . or left the team. Everyday someone different is on the phone in my conference calls. Who are these people? What function do they provide? Titles like: "Program Manager" and "Business Services Tech Lead" are used describe their function. Okay, but what do they actually DO? "It's undetermined. Further information will become available." they tell me.

Money, the hoarding of great sums of cash, is the cause of the Enterprise demise. Only quarterly reports and Wall Street expectations drive what the executives spend budgets on. While they all take home large pots of gold, rewards for keeping the enterprise lean, I buy my own office supplies for my 6x7 foot cube. While the executives all take home millions in salary and still more millions in bonuses, I remain at the same basic level as when I arrived five years ago.

The execs do business in their large panel offices and panoramic views. I step around the "Slippery when wet" signs that warn of the rain puddles from the leaking ceilings. The execs park their company issued BMW 745s in assigned spots near the door, but I walk up and down the parking levels after parking my Camry in whatever available spot I can find. All of them order free steak and lobster from their private chef and eat on the penthouse floor while I must buy my own roast beef sandwich in the company cafeteria on the ground floor.

Everything is shutting down. Even the mail carts on rails are "temporally out of order until further notice." Now I must take a trip to the basement to get my trade magazines. I use them to keep abreast of technology. Seems strange doesn't it? The technology that used to deliver the mail is inactive so I must walk to the basement to get my own magazines on technology.

It's just a matter of time before the patient dies. All the investors are standing around the bed looking down at the barely breathing skeletal frame, expecting death soon. No one wants to pull the plug. No one has the authority to end it now. so they wait. But the patient has really already died. The eyes are closed. There's no communication. The brain has expired. There comes a point when the respirator is no longer prolonging life, it's prolonging death. It just ain't going to get any better. Someone should be brave and pull the plug. Free the bed for someone that will respond to care.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. - Proverbs 29:18