Corporate Entrepeneurs?: 'Whatever you say, J.B.'
Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved.
Direct inquiries to CIS I.D. 75115,1341.
Corporate Entrepeneurs?: 'Whatever you say, J.B.'
J.B. said, "Our new entrepeneurial policy of taking the
corporate initiative is sure to shake up the industry. Right, C.F.?"
You can learn a lot by talking to people on airplanes. Between
New York and Washington, J.B. and C.F. regaled me with all the new
strategic policy initiatives of corporate gamesmanship. Back home we
used to call it BSing, but hardly anyone in the Midwest knows how to
interact. At least not as well as J.B. (renowned author of 'Good
Enough for Government Work').
"Entrepeneurship," he said. "That's the new thrust of
corporate policy. We're moving from a basically rear-guard reaction to
the Far East toward an overt, active posture of taking up the
initiative. The new Organization Man is an entrepeneur."
I said: "I thought an entrepeneur is someone who is =not= an
"Well," J.B. conceded, "that may have been the old way of
thinking of things. But we've actively initiated a strategic new
policy of promoting self-responsibility in our management groups--"
"=Self=-responsibility in groups?"
"Yes. We've replaced the outmoded Cover Your Own Assets policy
with strategic entrepeneurship: Carry Your Own Weight. Right, C.F.?"
C.F., a thin, bespectacled monolith of entrepeneurial vigor,
said, "Right, J.B."
"And what will that do?"
"Well, sink or swim," said J.B. "The American Way. No more
molly-coddling of weak, ineffective management. From now on, it's
decisive, active, strategic corporate initiatives or you're off the
plane without a golden parachute."
I said: "Results...?"
"Well..." J.B. gave me a tolerant glance. "These things are
not easy to measure, especially so early in a new initiative. But take
C.F., here." C.F. polished his nails on his lapel. "In a little less
than six months, he's completely modernized his entire operation. He's
brought his group into the Information Age. The forefront of
technology. Office Automation, the wave of the future."
I asked, "What did you do, C.F.?"
"Samasonic," he replied demurely.
"Samasonic. Electronic pencil sharpeners. Top of the line, but
I took up the initiative and got them for a song."
"And you can bet that I was more than a little taken aback,"
said J.B. "I mean no consultation, no committee, no progress reports.
Old C.F. just went out and bought them. All on his own initiative. Now
=that's= what I call corporate entrepeneurship!"
"You must be proud, C.F."
"Well, he ought to be! How many corporate managers have a
thing like that to their credit?"
"Not many, J.B.," I said. "Not many."
"Darn right! You can bet those pantywaists over at
Conglomerated Paperworks are quaking in their boots. Right, C.F.?"
"Question...," I said. "How does the corporate entrepeneur
compare income-wise with the... well, what do you call them?"
"Privateers," said C.F.
"Pirates, you mean!," J. B. corrected.
"Right. Pirates," C.F. repeated.
"Anyway," I continued, "how do your corporate managers compare
in income with private owners?"
"Well... On the whole," J.B. said expansively, "very well.
Naturally they don't knock down what some of those predators are
walking home with, but they don't take any losses either. We have a
very liberal compensation and benefits package for our senior
managers. And we're backing up our entrepeneurial initiative with a
strategic incentive program."
"We reward out managers for taking up the initiative, for
making bold, active, strategic policy determinations in a decisive
I said: "Put a number on it."
J.B. sighed. "It's not that easy. A lot of what we're doing is
in kind, not cash. For instance, what's the cash value of a membership
in our executive health club? Our executive country club? Our liberal
vacation credits plan? Plus, there's the human factors... How much
would C.F., here, pay for the company he keeps with our company.
That's worth something too, isn't it? Have you ever heard of any
private enterprisers who have friends like we have? Just name one!"
"One of the stock complaints about corporate managers," I
said, "is that they put too much emphasis on so-called human factors,
and not enough on the bottom-line..."
"Who said that?! I've never heard that. Have you, C.F.?"
"No, sir, J.B. Never once."
Deep breath. "Well, take the case of Ateve... A 'privateer'
starts it in his garage and turns it into a giant multi-national. He
sells it to a conglomerate. They run it into the ground and end up
selling it for pennies on the dollar to Jock Triumph."
"A thief!," said J.B.
"A gonoph!," said C.F.
"And besides," said J.B., "did you ever look at =his= human
factors? An uneducated, undignified thief! I'll bet he doesn't even
know which fork is which."
"But I've heard that he's growing by 20% a year..."
"Paper profits," said J.B. "Puffball reporting practices.
Sure, his numbers look good, but what about his morale? Has =his=
staff initiated any strategic new policies?"
"But 20% a year... That's a lot isn't it? I mean, even for an
"What entrepeneur? He's not an entrepeneur, just a merchant
prince. A robber baron. A vulture of profit. Not like C.F., here.
C.F. strove to look fitting: "Whatever you say, J.B."
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