Be world class
Many ambitious people want to work for large international organisations. I understand the reason for doing so. I started my career working in small organisations. My first experience of working in a large organisation was for a company called EDS. The company was a large company in the IT sector. By all indicators, it was a large multinational company, even if less known outside of the IT industry. The company was later taken over by the computer giant Hewlett Packard.
There are several advantages when you work in companies where the revenue for the year were in billion of dollars. The main advantage is in terms of the way the organisations of this size operate. Yes, you are just a small part of the organisation decision making process and if things are not going to plan, you could easily get fired or made redundant. I enjoyed the reward of working in such a company. For me, the lessons are in terms of how decisions were made.
The greatest lesson was about the culture of the organisation. The commitment of the staff and the dogged determination to succeed for the good of the company. We spent a couple of weeks being ‘indoctrinated’ into the culture of the company. Those two weeks allowed us to build friendships with other ‘newbies’ from different parts of the company. They encouraged a sense of belonging and networking is encouraged.
I also learned about the ways EDS did their biddings for contracts. It was more successful than most of their competitors at that time. My experience of working on some of these contracts were from my days at EDS. At its peak, EDS was the largest IT outsourcing company in the world with more than 300,000 employees in 64 countries. The success of the company was in it determination to be the best. EDS was started by Ross Perot, the Texan billionaire and US Presidential aspirant.
I joined the company at the onset of its massive growth in the U.K. in 1994. The company went through different stages. You can find out more about the company by clicking on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Data_Systems
EDS had a winning mentality that had stayed with me till today. Big IT contracts were our specialty, hence the company had a programme to train its IT staff to the highest level at the head office in Plano, Texas. EDS had one of the most innovative pricing system I have ever come across. The system included the use of NPV ( discounting rate), cash flow, risk analysis and pay back. These are the techniques learned whilst studying for accountancy exams and on MBA programmes that you never expect to use in real life, but EDS used these techniques to make decisions.
Culture is critical
The most important lesson came from the decision making process. The budget to bid for some of these contracts could be as high as $1m. For this amount and on some of the most critical ‘must win’ contracts, our approaches were innovative and focused. The best teams for the jobs will be assembled. We met regularly, to share ideas and plans. The customer requirements were considered, but we always took it to a different level.
We never stopped at just meeting the clients expectations now. We wanted to deliver services far beyond the customers expectations. In my cases, our plans exceeded what the customers could ever dream about. Most critically though at a price far cheaper than they currently pay for the same service.
The formula worked. The lessons from my days at EDS were, find out what the customers want, provide something much better, at a lower cost whilst increasing efficiency using the most innovative solutions.
That lesson always stay with me. Never be happy to just do what the customers want, know their business better than them. This is my advice to anyone trying to start or run their own businesses. Make sure the customers get more than they expect. They will not only trust you, they will open their wallets and stay with you for as long as possible.
Its okay to make mistakes
Of course we made a lot of mistakes as well. The market became more competitive, we lost of the most competent staff and as competition increased we reduced the number of staff that went on the Software Engineer and Financial Training programmes.
But in reality whatever the competitive advantage a company has unless you continue to improve on it, the rest of the chasing pack will always try to close the gap. Tesla’s massive advantage in electric car production is being closed down not only by the conventional car manufacturers but the others like NIO from China.
The lesson is continuous improvement and innovation all the time.
So if you plan to start your own company, make sure you develop a culture that will sustain the company and give it a competitive edge. Yes, the culture of the company will evolve over time, but a great foundation can make a difference.
The greatest lesson from a global organisation is the ability to work together as a team for the good and success of the company. All resources are geared towards that common goal, to win the contract.
We never considered anything is impossible. Look at the advert from the company many years ago. https://youtu.be/m_MaJDK3VNE
The word ‘impossible’ did not exist in our world. Now that is confidence for you and that is how to build a ground breaking company. You were encouraged to take risks with ideas and think strategically. This meant that we can think in terms of the long term. This reminds me of John C Maxwell’s book ‘ How successful people think’. This book is great for anyone who is interested in thinking big and out of their comfort zone.
Despite its success, very few people have heard of the company outside of the IT sector. It eventually lost its independence and was taken over by HP.
You may also be interested in my experience of working for billion dollar companies http://www.enterprisedoctors.com/experience-working-at-eds-hp/