Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Corporate Culture

Years ago, as an engineer, I needed an I2C adapter to do work with a new integrated circuit. The I2C adapter was made by a small company where when you called the main number, you got the guy who founded the company. The adapter cost $300. I put in a requisition with our VP. All requisitions had to be approved by Jack. The VP had no authority to approve the $300 requisition. At this point we had more than 1000 employees and revenue close to $1B. My req sat for a month with me bugging the VP constantly. Finally with special action, the accounting department was forced to take it on. I waited another two weeks, then went to the accounting department to see why the order STILL HADN'T BEEN PLACED. The accounting guy told me that even though Jack had approved the rec, Jack now had an across the board rule that there needed to be at least three vendors for every rec'ed item. Since this was a unique item, I could only find one vendor. I bugged the accounting guy to get an exception for this rule. Waited another week or so, still no action. Went to see the accounting guy again. Now he says since there is only one vendor, the policy is that we must have a 15% discount off the list price. I called the founder of the I2C adapter company and personally pled with him to give us (me!) a discount. He refused. I was stuck. I gave up and didn't think about it anymore. A month later, the adapter showed up on my desk. I went to accounting to see what happened. The accounting guy told me he had called the I2C adapter guy every few days asking for the discount and constantly getting refused. Finally after MANY calls, the poor I2C guy gave up and said "fine! you can have the discount, just stop calling me!". The joke is... By the time the darn thing showed up on my desk, I didn't need it anymore.

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