It's almost 9 AM. The sun has burned off the morning's icy fog. Grass made white and solid by a hard frost and temperatures in the upper twenties are recovering their green blades.
Another meeting has ended. This was an organization call, arranged this morning. A small subset of a larger team was informed of reorg news directly affecting us. That's the thought.
It doesn't really directly affect 'us' at the working level. Nobody is changing offices or titles. We are changing our accounting org code, and my manager will have a new manager, and there will be a new voice telling us how we did at our hour-long 'town meetings' once a quarter. What will happen next? We don't know at this point, so why worry? Speculation is moot. As my manager said, "I need to sit down and talk with my new manager and see who he is, and he needs to learn who I am, and we'll figure out the direction we need to take."
The reorg announcement is the first step not the first step. Before it gets to the point of a reorganization announcment, monies, costs and senior leadership must be addressed. Who will be the execs and senior managers? What budgets are necessary, what will the headcount look like and what will be the scope? Which org picks up what costs? Who gets the revenue? How will costs be shared, if necessary? What exceptions exist? After these are discussed, decisions made, personnel changes ordered and announced, the announcement is made, along with the implementation date.
Since I've been with this corporation, since 2006, I've gone through four reorganizations and two integrations. The reorg's focus grows crisper each time. After announcing what the new org looks like, an environmental scan of positions is conducted. This is likely a second or third pass. Positions were scanned as part of the re-org process to decide who should go where. Now it's more a matter of addressing efficiencies and redundancies.
The 'direction we need to take' isn't hard to determine. Implementing those directions is difficult. We compete for the time, money, attention and people that we label 'resources'. Once a decision is made, challenges arise finding those resources, and keeping them. After the resource needs are vetted and assigned, we deal with marketing, engineering, sales, and business control issues.
Business control is a beast. The beast can't be tamed, only fed and mollified. It gets complicated fast. Several countries require only new parts be used as replacement parts. That skews the recovery and repair cycle. Our products' value lie in their security software content. The hardware is set up to expedite that software's capabilities and scale it up to its ultimate efficiences.
We stock parts around the world, wherever the products are installed and in use. Some parts are always new. Return on investment analysis show its cheaper to scrap them rather than refurbish and re-use them. When this isn't the case and new and used and mixed, it's difficult to know whether they're new or not. The warehouses are enormous, often housing millions of parts by number, and tens of millions in quantities. 20,000 transactions a day take place in the US warehouse. Finding one part and determining if it's new or use is hard, and since we track the parts by their part number, you don't know at a glance if you have new or used parts on hand.
To get around that, we establish additional warehouses in these countries that need new parts. That adds costs and complexities. When the new part is used, the old part is recovered and refurbished but a new part must be ordered and stocked to replace the part sent out.
Further confusing the world are the expanding sets of environmental and energy requirements. Most environmental restrictions are called ROHS, after the EU directive - Restrictions of Hazardous Substances. The EU's structure helps in this regard, as we can treat its members states as one entity. Because of stocking decisions and business structure, we therefore treat all of EMEA - Europe, Middle East, Africa - as one entity under the ROHS requirements, except that some countries that are not EU members have their own ROHS jurisdictions. That includes Turkey and Croatia on the EMEA side.We stock separately for them. As part of the requirements, though, ROHS gets more stringent by the year; what was legal in 2006 is no longer acceptable in 2008, 2009. The next major milestone is at the end of 2012.
Outside of EMEA, we treat Latin American and North America as one entity, with exceptions in Brazil and Argentina, Asia Pacific as one, and Japan as another. Asia Pacific is becoming very complicated because of its energy and ROHS requirements, with new directives emerging for Vietnam, Korea, and China.
We're fortunate that my division doesn't sell to consumers and we don't sell monitors with our security appliances. Consumers and monitors have more stringent ROHS levels. It's a matter of scale. There are so many consumers and consumer products that to not tend to their waste immediately creates disasters. In America, however, each state and each federal organization will often drive its own green initiatives, which address these concerns. States such as California and New York are very aggressive while other states don't address it at all. DOD has stronge requirements but others are not so strong.
On top of all of this, these are expensive security appliances. Since they secure the customers' networks, intranet and web sites and protect their data and communications, when one of these appliances go down, it can cause major headaches. Thus we need to stock to quickly replace the part to get these organizations and businesses back up as quickly as possible.
So those matters must all be taken into account as we pursue 'the direction we'll take'. My job is coordinating when and where all these parts must be stocked, and how many, and when they must be replaced or phased out, using all the parameters scoped in the paragraphs above. So what do I expect?
BAU: business as usual. The fog may be burning off outside, and the sun now illuminates everything with bright clarity, but inside the re-org, it's cold and foggy. The sun won't show for years.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com