Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Discover Why You Can Never Let the Company Down

Chapter 6:  Corporate Culture -The Invisible Hand of the Company Part 1

The good news: I got the product out on time after leading the team through twelve months of crisis product development.  The bad news:  it did not perform well in customer hands.  The only surprise for me was how surprised senior management seemed to be. Prior to launch, the executives would stop me in the hall to ask if we were on schedule, and remind me how much revenue was on the line.  I loved the attention, and I was going to make sure we delivered what they were asking for.  They did not say ‘We will support any decision you make,’ or ‘protect the long term relationship with customers.’

After launch, I was too depressed to effectively defend myself from the storm of criticism because I felt that I let the company down.  What a ridiculous thought.  The company isn’t alive, and can’t be let down.

What I understand now, that I didn’t understand then, was that the company had a culture of making the date, and if I hadn’t been leading the team, someone else would have been.  It was expected that vacations would be canceled if need be, and they were.  I even led a conference call for several hours on the Fourth of July to help make the date.  I was at a family reunion at a resort in New Mexico, standing outside in the one patch of ground that had two bars of cell coverage – just enough to be heard.  If I walked more than ten feet in any direction, it dropped off.  It kind of symbolizes the impact of corporate culture on workplace behavior.  In theory I could walk anywhere I wanted to, but if I wanted to be heard, I had limited room to maneuver.

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  1. Greg Marcus says

    As I will make clear in the next post, whatever the company culture was, I am still responsible for the choices I made.


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  2. […] Last post talked about the impact of corporate culture on my decisions leading a team that launched a product way before it was ready.  We had a “make the date” culture, and there was not much room for dissent. Of course none of this absolves me of responsibility for the choices I made.  I also don’t want to make this seem like a bigger deal than it was.  I don’t think I or anyone else at the company was involved in the types of major ethical lapses that one reads about on Wall Street or in the Enron case.  This was more of the garden variety business as, if not quite usual, certainly not all that unusual. […]