We had just gone live successfully with a very important project. It called for a celebration – a big one! Being a large globally distributed project, it was decided that the project managers of each country would take their teams out for drinks and dinner. To make it uniform, a certain amount was earmarked per team member and it was coming out of the project budget. We were happy. And we did go out and have a blast!
Then came the shocker. I had paid the bill for my team and submitted it for reimbursement. Accounts folks came back saying they would reimburse the food and not the drinks. When pointed out that office parties seldom go dry, I was told that it was allowed only for customers. I tried explaining to them that I had just followed what was decided by the global project team. My boss understood my situation and tried to help. The issue went back and forth within the organization but finally nothing happened.
I am sure many of you who have been part of large organizations know how difficult and lengthy it can be to navigate the system. And I am not talking attitude – it’s just that rules get the better of intent. Even when the outcome is positive, decisions often take very long due to several levels of approvals, cross-geographical coordination and signatories out on travel.
This incident happened to me years back. Cut to the present. I read an article this morning in the papers with the headlines “Hunter pockets a cool Rs. 10L”. It sounded interesting and proceeded to read more of it. Here is an excerpt – “Anand Prakash, a senior security engineer with Flipkart, earned his bounty by finding and notifying Facebook about a bug that jeopardized the privacy of its account holders. The company wasted no time in fixing the issue and then amply rewarding Prakash for it”
What caught my attention more than the bounty amount was the speed at which Facebook moved on this. By the end of the day, they had resolved the issue and paid a big amount to somebody sitting on the other side of the globe! The turn-around-time is just mind-boggling.
The media today is filled with stories of new-age companies – Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and the like. While it is fashionable, the question we need to ask ourselves is this – “Are these companies doing something remarkably different than their old world counterparts”. As I read through these stories, I am more and more convinced that they really are.
Among other things, these new-age companies understand the need for agility in today’s fast moving world. What's more impressive is that they have successfully woven that value into their way of working. Hats off!
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