Week twenty: Great to good

As I read my Business Week magazines and Wall Street Journals, I get a rather dismal outlook on the competitiveness of many U.S. businesses. I
recently read an article — Great to Good? — written by David Gergen. The article raises interesting questions in my mind about the future competitiveness of the U.S. I have always felt SAIC had a chance to improve that competitiveness — even in a small way — and to tell others our ideas about how it could be done. I remember in the early days of the company having a discussion with a high-level White House individual who felt employee ownership could not have any impact whatsoever on U.S. competitiveness. My feeling is SAIC always tried to maintain very competitive pricing while delivering top-notch services, just by managing our resources conservatively. So I think there’s still hope for our nation.

Click on the comments link to share your thoughts.
– Bob

Here are my responses to previous weeks’ comments:

Duane Hove (Week 19): We’ll do that.

Jeff Rajhel (Week 19): Not sure about the sailing trip, but dinner for two might be a possibility.

George Borun (Week 19): We’re trying to include a compilation of SAIC offshoots in the book. Is the name of your company La Jolla Scientific? Whatever happened to the ATP photometer business?

Harry Chernoff (Week 17): The book title has been decided — please tell me what you think. I too am curious about how many millionaires we created — we’re looking into it. It will be somewhere in the book you buy. The freedom employees had to pursue their efforts at SAIC if they were ethical and didn’t cost the company a lot of money was a reason for the company’s success. I don’t regret it. Making sure that those who initiated programs within the company were not totally excluded from participation was one of my main interests from an employee standpoint. I felt that ideas were so important that we should make a point of rewarding employees who had them. On your comments about administrative and marketing staff not being forthcoming with B&P expenses, most people were aware that the company had limited funds, and these funds were allocated in proportion to revenues and profitability. Corporate had a discretionary pool to try to help those who had gone to the trouble of asking for funding. We did what we could to help them initiate new programs. Bureaucracies have a way of growing, and it’s important that employees have a way to bypass the chain of command to get their messages heard by top management. If I had to do it again, I might own more than I ended up with.

William Weeks (Week 17): You’re not alone in having new, interesting, and ever-changing job assignments at SAIC!