I don't think Sandeep was talking like a "spiritualist." As a reporter, I can be as much a cynic as anyone. But I was certain that Sandeep meant it, when he talked about "the company's soul." Well, we will see if he will keep up.
It all depends how that "soul" is presented. Most companies would like to treat their people well and feel good. But most, if not all, are driven by profits. So the key question is: is the "soul" profitable over the long run? ;-) Kris
I like your article. Well spoken.
Growing up in Silicon Valley in the 60’s and 70’s (AMD's first buildings was right behind my high school in Sunnyvale) I must say that by and large whatever the companies I worked for said, when the going got tough, people went out the door. This seems to just be the facts of the working world. At one company though, I was about 2 months from being laid off after my company was purchased by a competitor. When I was given my exit date I asked if I could be extended for any amount of time since one of my children was about to start college. To my amazement, the company delayed my departure two months. It was quite a surprise and much appreciated.
I once worked for a company that had a founder who talked like that. He was very concerned about the corporate culture he was creating and that the employees felt a shared fate with the company. At one point he hired a CTO who once told me that in order to mature the company had to learn to be capable of doing evil. Maybe he was right, but all I know is that I enjoyed working there much more in the early years than the later ones. In my opinion this is something that a CEO should be thinking about just as much as the balance sheet and more than the stock price.
Good for MIPS CEO and its 150 employees. I hope that this company enjoys their moment in the spotlight. In the business world, these highlights don’t come often. But to be a powerhouse company, MIPS has a long way to go. The great thing about this article is that it sends out a message of hope to small business and future business students around the world…and you can’t go wrong with that. Very good article.
Good to see that Sandeep managed not to have reduced his work force during the difficult time. So the "Company with a soul" philosophy might be working well for him and the employees. I too believe, having a "soul" in a company, it's not about inviting families to the Nasdaq, but to allow enough freedom to the employees to have a good work-life balance.
Yes Sanjib. It is best to retain work force even during difficult times and this pays off later. This happens because of retaining the good workforce but plus the blessings from them or other wise the good feelings the work force will get about the management and the company etc brings them up together. That is the SOUL
Thank you for the fair and refreshing article, I find it very encouraging to see a CEO of a small company express with courage his confidence in the intangible resource of his company workforce. A paycheck alone does not foster loyalty from employees, I just wish there were more boards and top management in high tech companies to pay closer attention to the their assets value.
Thanks, Rene. You know, we do Salary Survey every year at EE Times. Much of the frustration we hear from our engineering audience is this: companies don't realize the value of the great "people" (engineering) assets they have.
I actually found it very refreshing when Sandeep talked about his initiative to invite the company's key customer every month to talk to the employees of the whole company. The knowledge of meeting with key customers shouldn't stop at the management/marketing level. Nothing satisfies engineers more than hearing how their technology is actually used!
"Much of the frustration we hear from our engineering audience is this: companies don't realize the value of the great "people" (engineering) assets they have. "
I am indeed amazed at the way bright Engineers are treated by their executive managers in companies in the US and much of the Western World. Often, the assumption that these Business school graduates have is that there is a limitless supply of bright Engineers in the world, and that these should be kept in their places and used for whatever markets dictate to meet financial targets. So far, this has been true thanks to over-supply from India and China in particular, as well as from other parts of the world. But as these places develop, they will keep more of their talents, and supply will become scarce. We'll see what will happen then...
This is very important lesson for company management at all level. I always requested my VP and owner to appreciate engineer's achievement at the end of each month. It does not involved money. Those wondeful words or may be tickets to NBA or NHL did magic to engineers in my team and we were able achieve new goals far above managements expectation.
Very good point to remember.
This goodwill to employees is not something companies flout and most are quite reasonable when they are dealing with a crisis but nobody goes around harping about a soul. Small companies can afford to have that personal rapport with each of it's employees but hard to impossible for big ones but that doesn't mean they are soulless. Lucky that his bets paid off else we wouldn't have heard him speak about soul in wall street.
It's a good thing for a company to have a soul. But where does it get one? My experience has been: from the senior management, and not from a girl-scout hype machine in the human resources office. When the senior management demands that employees be treated fairly and compassionately, that the product do what it is supposed to, and when the senior management itself is seen to act accordingly, then there's a "soul" to be talked about. The people who work for the senior management toe the line, and so on down the line. Such companies are good to work for, and I've had that luck a few times. I've also worked for companies run by truly nasty pieces of work, men whose main concern was the dollar, and in particular, their own dollar. Such companies are hell-holes, and one is well shot of them. I've spent a certain amount of time, as well, in academia and also in government, and the situation there has been, in my experience, deplorable. No one is really responsible for anything; everyone has "rights"; and no one is accountable for anything. Result: government service is rife with parasites on the US taxpayers. Not all of our civil servants, by any means. The ones who actually put in a day's work, however, are to be pitied: they struggle against the general malaise of working for non-entities who in turn work for political appointees. Show me one office building full of civil servants with anything like the esprit de corps that MIPS must have, and I will work an extra day this week. Ditto for universities, which are often havens for prima donna misfits or outright crazies elevated to the status of "expert" or more accurately, "demi-god". No, give me a privately held company, or a company which has aggressively honest and concerned management, and I'll show you a place which is worth working for. Capitalism produces both sorts of places: I know which one I'd choose.
Business is a form or warfare and there is no place for ethics. Its a place where the virtue of selfishness is the best ethic - except when government gets involved and the glad-handering champagne socialists big government private-public partnerships start trading who they know for super high salaries that have no connection with competence or actual productivity. Read Atlas Shrugged - everyone should. Ayn Rand does a great job of describing corporate corruption and the nature of society today in her 1930's novel.
When there's no place for ethics in business, then "business" is no better than the socialist state you seem to fear. You will be ruled not by parasitic socialists, but by boardroom thugs. (The only difference is this: in the one you will be miserable, lacking a job or future, in the other, miserable in a dead-end job.) If you doubt this, have a look at the EU. It is largely controlled by its businesses; there's no doubt about this. The result is that much of the EU has a negative population growth (excluding mid-eastern immigrants), and is well on the way to a form of cultural suicide. If you doubt that a corporation can be both successful and ethical, do a bit of reading yourself: I recommend to you the history of Kodak, and also the history of Polaroid, in particular, the actions of Land and his company when he discovered that his products were aiding the South Africans in their concentration camp approach to questions of color.
I think relatively small companies can talk and behave in this way, and I am all for it. However, with success comes growth, and with growth comes bureaucracy and hierarchy, and with that companies start to lose their identity and ethos (or "soul" as Sanddep call it). The key is in keeping one's company just small enough to keep its indentity and ethos, and big enough to fend off the big sharks. Easier said than done of course :-)
@Junko: thanks for turning our attention to something other than pure technical discussion in EE Times forums.
I have to agree with many sentiments commentators but I ask this question: if you keep the 'soul' discussion perspective to a global one (as we are compelled to now a days), do you folks think that businesses in countries like China, India , Brazil and others, view employees the same way as MIPS claims it does? If they did, do you think they can survive?
I would have to agree with the views of @BobLacovara and @Doug.Plumb. It is self-contradictory for corporation to be both successful and ethical.
Dr. MP Divakar
It's nice to be agreed with, but I am by no means certain that a corporation cannot be both ethical and successful. If a company must be unethical to be successful, then something is drastically wrong, and Polaroid and Kodak are strange outliers indeed. What is a corporation? Better question: who is a corporation? A group of men and women who make decisions. If they routinely make unethical decisions, then they don't need to run a corporation, they need to go to jail.
Ultimately, the job of a corporation is to make money. However, that doesn't mean that it can't or shouldn't have a soul. There are always lines that should not be crossed.
So what happens when cigarette smoking declines in the US? Should the tobacco companies decide that profit is more important than ethics and just push their products harder outside of the US? That's what a profit-first, profit-only organization would do. Would the tobacco companies even survive if they decided that smoking is bad and stopped selling cigarettes?
I'm not going to suggest any more or less legislation in that area, but the point is that there are plenty of companies in existence now that have dramatically changed their business model. Coca Cola didn't go out of business when they stopped putting cocaine into their drink a century ago.
Sometimes ethics are forced upon companies by consumers or the government and sometimes companies live by high ethics on their own. Regardless of whether it's by choice or by law, companies do exist and thrive with a soul. In fact, it's probably much less expensive to put ethics into your corporate culture by choice than let it be forced in by law.
In the extreme of doing business without soul, you get Enron type debacles or Bhopal type disasters.
so how is everyone feeling about the soul of ceo vij? companies need a soul but before that they need fundamentals and a business. when you have a loudmouth and a soul in charge, it drives volatility in the market. people value the company on the messenger and not the message behind it. when the message is missing, the messenger is more important and that's the story of hiring this spiritualist to mips. there are no fundamentals for mips-its a dead company.
reading this thread makes me realize what the pattern of what a BS CEO is. Sandeep Vij is a BS artist. Companies need leaders with real depth who have done real things that leads to real progress. This guy is a hype monster. find some distance between your wallet and him.