Earlier this year, in April to be exact, I posted an essay on why I don’t acquire any further business-related qualifications to advance my career in the company I presently work for. You may recall that I was adamant about not becoming one of the “corporate crooks” who darken the halls of power in companies everywhere.
Today, my decision was vindicated. As a project Manager, I am called upon occasionally to make presentations to Senior Management about a particular high-profile project I’m working on at the time. Usually the presentation involves providing project status information, identifying risks and problems, and expenditure reporting. Currently I am working on a very high-profile project, mired in politics and with serious image ramifications for the country. Because of the sensitive nature of the project, I cannot reveal any more details. But that is irrelevant. What is relevant however, is how my presentation was treated by Senior Management.
Prior to making the presentation, I was issued with a presentation format that really did not suite the type of information I was supposed to disclose. Obviously, whoever came up with the format was not really knowledgeable about the technologies involved in the project. The format I was being coerced into using did not allow me to reveal adequately the scale or complexity of the project from a holistic perspective. Needless to say, I went ahead and compiled the presentation in my own format which I found to be most suitable, all-inclusive and logically structured, for the occasion. I knew that it would be met with disapproval, and that it could potentially have serious ramifications for my future, but I went ahead anyway.
The Senior Managers at the meeting wasted no time in attacking my presentation format, when it was projected onto the screen. Nobody seemed interested in the information it contained; one Senior Manager in particular was extremely pedantic about it all. My explanations were dismissed outright, and he insisted that I change the format for the next meeting. In the end, we did not discuss anything contained in the presentation report which was the whole point of the meeting in the first instance, because everyone was more focused on the format. I could see the uncomfortable looks on the faces of those present; they just wanted me to stop arguing so that they could conclude the meeting and get out of there, back to their comfort zones. I know some were thinking, who is this upstart who is challenging the status quo? Eventually I gave in, but made it clear that I did not agree with the idea. The relief in the room was palpable as I walked out.
Reflecting back on the presentation meeting, several things stuck in my mind. How Management pay lip service to creativity, innovation and initiative. When confronted by a real live situation they quickly show how little they care for it. Clinging onto the tried and trusted, the familiar, is the norm. That is why this company is having trouble holding onto its most talented people; their creativity is stifled, innovation frightens the “hangers-on” in power positions. Upsetting the status quo is like committing a treasonous offense. This organization produces a multitude of report writers and report readers, buys and creates several in-house information gathering systems, but hardly any analyzers and problem-solvers. You always have to work hard to satisfy the systems; they invariably don’t work for you.
The decision-makers don’t have a clue; they are focused acutely on enriching the shareholders. I never want to be part of this clique of comfortable dinosaurs. That is why I have no desire to climb the corporate ladder.