Anyone who has ever run a business knows that one of your highest costs is people. That’s why so many business are putting so much effort into getting rid of them. Automation, robots, services you have to perform yourself and pay somebody else for and so on. But the funny thing is how many of those businesses rely on people to buy their goods and services. So they all run around shooting each other in the foot and wondering why it hurts. They figure if they cut somebody they will save money and if the other guys business suffers from lack of customers then that’s his problem. Of course they all think the same way which is where all the foot shooting comes in.
If you are like me, a boomer who’s parents grew up in the 40’s and 50’s you have no doubt heard something like this; ” If you just work hard and be a good employee and loyal to your company you will be successful” I’m here to call BS on that one. My father used to tell me that you need to get a job and stay there. That’s what he did. It didn’t work. There is a reason that young people move jobs so often these days. When they get a better deal they take it. They have already learned what it took their parents and grandparents years to learn or never learn at all. The game is to get as much as you can regardless of the consequences. The days of company loyalty to it’s employees are gone, as is the reverse. If you have to fire 5,000 people to bump up your stock price so you can buy that third house in the Hamptons, so be it. “It’s just business, I’ve worked hard and I deserve to get that new yacht, Mercedes, (Insert goody here). This is nothing new by the way. Greed has always consumed mankind. The only real difference is the methods. In today’s lesson we will learn about projections.
For my money projections are the worst thing to come down the pike. I admit that for some businesses projections are important. You need to be able to project work output in your factory so you know when and what amounts of parts and raw materials to buy to keep things humming.
I’m more talking about what we’ll call Corporate Projections or Sales Projections. For one thing most business people suck at making them. Let’s face it, when we are talking about sales projections we are really talking about a guess. It should be an educated guess but often it is not, at least not completely. In my experience I have seen the projection used and abused more than anything I can think of. People like to make their bosses happy. One way to do that is with rosy projections. The key thing seems to be with many to “over promise and under deliver”. It gets them a pat on the back from the happy CEO who may even give you a raise and a promotion. The problem is that they usually come back to bite somebody in the ass. At those times when I had to make performance based projections for something, I practiced exactly the opposite, ‘under promise and over deliver’. The initial reaction was so so, but I always beat my projections which makes people happy. Go figure. Unfortunately it’s not the CEO or the guy who came up with the rosy projection who pays the price when it doesn’t happen. It’s always the employees. This comes in several forms. In the businesses I’ve worked in it is usually a salesman. A salesman will typically say ANYTHING to get a sale. So your sales guy goes to one of your clients and says “We can get this project done in two months!” Often without ever talking with the people who actually have to do it. Sometimes they will talk to those folks, but if they don’t get an answer that they like they will just change it. They thing about projections is they more often have the ability to hurt rather than help. I worked for a company once who had made some very lofty projections based on very little other than hope. At the time I argued against using this hope. For my argument I was told I was just a “naysayer”. This company went on to spend a tremendous amount of capital on inventory based on these projections and as a result when they didn’t come true, a lot of people lost their jobs. As the best boss I’ve ever had once told me “Hope is not a strategy.”
Sometimes projections can have a silver lining for the company. Not for the employees mind you but the company. This is generally only true for privately held companies. Public companies get punished by the market if they don’t hit their projections, or even more importantly, the market’s expectations. The silver lining works like this. ” Yes, we had some aggressive sales goals this year and while we did beat last year’s numbers we still didn’t reach our projected income so there will be no raises this year. But you can rest assured that the people who actually failed to meet their goals for the year will get a bonus.
So next time you are in a company meeting and the powers that be start talking about projections, just take it with a grain of salt and read between the lines.
And remember, you DO have choices.
We spent a few days exploring Joshua Tree. I loved it. As much as I love the lush green forests of the northeast I have a special place inside me for the wide open spaces of the west. The sheer enormity of it is mind boggling. 792,510 acres to be exact. As far as the eye can see in some places. If you are interested in that kind of thing it’s a geological wonderland. Giant rock formations just pop up out of the desert in the middle of vast flat lands. Gigantic alluvial fans created by ancient ice age rivers seem to flow out of the mountainsides. I just love this kind of stuff.
If you have a 4WD vehicle there are even more things you can see. There are a number of 4WD only dirt roads crisscrossing the park. They claim to be unmaintained but they appeared to be graded to some degree. There is a bit washboard in some places but I’ve seen much worse. At least where we went we didn’t have any serious ruts to contend with.
We stopped by the Cottonwood Visitor Center and purchased our Interagency Pass which will grant us admission to the majority of federal parks in the US. It’s pricey at $80 but when you figure that a day pass to JTNP is about $30 it’s not too bad to have if you are traveling.
On our last day we went to Keys View in the park which gives you an outstanding view of the valley with Mt San Jacinto in the background. It still amazes me to see snow on the mountain while you are in the desert next to Joshua Trees and cactus.
I would really like to come back here at some point and explore even more of the park. You could take several weeks and still not see it all, especially if you do a lot of hiking.