Nov 17 2008

I Wonder if I Could Ever Work for a Big Company

I Wonder if I Could Ever Work for a Big Company

And I mean a REALLY BIG one.  At my high school reunion last weekend, my friend Jason, who I hadn’t seen in 10 years (and only once in the last 20), heard what I’m doing with my life, and said to me “I’m so glad for you.  I couldn’t figure out if you were going to do big company or something entrepreneurial.  I’m sure you would have done well either way, but isn’t what you’re doing more fun?”


I think he’s right.  It is more fun.  Every time I have a meaningful interaction with a friend or client inside a huge company, I come away shaking my head a bit.  The politics of huge organizations are a little mind-numbing.  People seem obsessed with it – who reports to whom, who is in and who is out, to the point where it must distract them from their actual work.  And as far as I can tell, most (though certainly not all) large companies do major reorganizations every 12 months that also stop business dead in its tracks.  It’s a wonder companies like that get anything done at all.


This notion was reinforced for me at a two-day training seminar I attended last week on Balanced Scorecard implementation, something we’re rolling out now at Return Path.  It was a good training course, but not geared to C-level execs at growth companies.  Most of the people in attendance were mid-level managers at big companies who were “project managing” Balanced Scorecards.  As a result, sections of the course were devoted to topics like “finding an executive sponsor” and “selling the idea up the management chain.”  Oy!


The kind of work I love doing is work that has a direct impact, a real connection to the company’s results.  Work that is, well, work, not time spent figuring out how to get work done.  Maybe this isn’t fair – I’m sure there are perfectly good BIG companies out there that don’t function this way – but they do seem to be few and far between.


I hope Jason is right – if I were to work in a big company, I’d do well – but boy does it sound like not fun.  Or at least it sounds like not productive work.