November 13, 2007 4:00 AM PST
Perspective: Some resolutions for Corporate AmericaSee all Perspectives
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First, I'm tired of the business-as-usual mentality that permeates most corporate decision making. I'm not asking anyone to compromise "shareholder value" by giving away stuff for free. I just want the things companies bring into our lives--and the ways they bring them--to work better.
For example, service activation is a joke. There's nothing more frustrating than complicated setup and lag-time in enabling people to use what they pay for. Take the iPhone fiasco. Hey, cool device--hats off to Apple for designing something so fun to play with. But why were iPhone customers forced to go through such a complicated activation process? When I walked out of that AT&T store, I was already annoyed that I couldn't immediately call someone. But I waited. I figured iTunes always works and I'd be making my first calls in 10 minutes.
But noooooo. I got sent to old-fashion phone company customer service hell. After calling three numbers and waiting on the phone for hours, someone in the technical service department had to manually activate my device. There's got to be a better way.
Here's another thought: before buying another competitor, why not first take care of existing customers? And stop cutting corners on quality. I really get annoyed by recalls--though I don't seem as surprised as my supplier that they happen all the time. I know it must be tempting to look at the quote from an overseas supplier you've never met and say, "Wow, look how much I can save." But do you really expect us to believe that you were shocked that your overseas suppliers cut some corners in production? Don't say it never occurred to you that actually spot-checking the quality of your overseas partners would be a good idea. I applaud the cost benefits of globalization. But stop presuming that your antiquated quality-control program is up to the challenge.
How about taking some of the profits from your globalization effort and investing in some new quality management programs?
Another thing: you finance types who manipulate the numbers really annoy me. I try to take pride in the power of capitalism and you give us the ethics of a Moscow pimp. Didn't we learn a lesson from Enron? Why all of a sudden am I seeing "downturns" in markets when what is really going on is a reality check to your bad decision making? Seriously, why did you think that someone could spend 80 percent of his gross income on a balloon home mortgage? Are you playing a shell game with our retirement funds? It might be hard to continually show better return, but don't bow to pressure to play with the numbers to make things appear better.
Also, pick a standard and go with it. I like competition, but I hate confusion. It's hard enough to get agreement on whether to see an action flick or a romance. Don't force us to grapple with the nuances of which type of video, HD DVD or Blu-ray, is the best. When I want to listen to music on a portable player I don't want to stop and consider the merits of AAC versus MP3 versus WMA. Didn't you learn anything from Betamax?
Trying to box out your competition with proprietary "standards" is not our idea of innovation. Sit down with your competitors and agree on some standards, and then focus on quality and features.
Henry Ford changed the game, but the Model T got 24 miles per gallon in 1904. Why are we hovering at 20 mpg today? I hear all the stories about wars, oppressive taxes, seasonal fluctuations, our fascination with sport-utility vehicles, but c'mon! It's bad enough we spend 50 minutes each way commuting to work, why do we have to drop so much of our net income into our tanks?
I bought into the "power of capitalism to foster innovation" but your short-term thinking is going to turn us into communists. It is not your job to maintain the status quo. Get with your suppliers and collaborate on new ways of doing things.
I hope you see where I'm coming from. I'm sick and tired of broken ways of doing things mucking up our lives. Stop pointing fingers while managing your stock options. Instead, just make stuff that works the way it should!
Rob Risany is vice president of product marketing at business process management provider .
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