Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: The reach of DaveNet

Author:Dave Polaschek
Posted:8/27/1999; 7:55:00 AM
Topic:Next clonemaker, Compaq
Msg #:10100 (In response to 10091)
Prev/Next:10099 / 10101

This morning I got an email from Scott Cutler, who is Compaq's VP Advanced Technology and CTO.

While I'm happy that you're getting your hardware woes worked out (albeit slowly) and, in balance, this is good news, there are two things that sadden me about this situation.

The first is that while you can get to the VP level by posting a DaveNet, few mere mortals can get that same sort of attention. I think it's admirable that you're asking for a deal for your readers. I also think it's a sign of pretty poor customer service when one has to be Dave Winer to get good service from a company. The rest of us just move on and start buying products from another company, and the cluetrain passes the first company by.

The second thing is that Mr. Cutler probably wasn't even aware of the customer service problems within Compaq until he got forwarded a DaveNet. [Note: This is an assumption on my part. I've found that it's correct in many organizations I've had a chance to see inside, but it may not be the case within Compaq.] It's far too common in my experience for executives at large companies not to be aware of what's going on within their own companies, or for that matter, within their own divisions. My experience with this was that it was usually a matter of people not wanting to "rock the boat" within their company, so problems aren't reported. Reporting problems within the business you work for often gets you the reputation of a "complainer" or a "troublemaker", even when the problems are legitimate, and do need to be handled at a high level.

I think the reason why bad-news doesn't propagate upward within corporations is that there's generally pressure to not bring up bad news, especially if the bad-news reflects upon another group within the larger organization. If you point out something wrong within another group, that's often seen as a criticism of that group, and pointing it out means that you're not being a "team player". If the bad news applies to your own group, you don't want to air your dirty laundry, so the news doesn't propagate upwards, even when doing so would be better for the organization as a whole. It's tough to admit you've made a mistake and it's going to hurt others (or already has).

Dissatisfaction with working in such environments is what prompted me to start my own business. Now when there's a problem that the boss needs to look at, I can get his attention. He may still be an unresponsive SOB, but at least I know he's heard the problem. :/


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