schizophrenic companies

I have finally figured out why all big companies are so schizophrenic. By schizophrenic I mean if you are at a certain level of the hierarchy then all the movements around you seem completely out of whack. You see different groups working against each other instead of cooperatively developing cool technologies and delivering value to the customer. The reason for all of it is what I’m calling the “portfolio theory of management”.

If you squint a little then all upper management at all big companies look the same. They are all business school graduates and most, if not all, have some kind of background in finance. And what do they teach you in business and finance? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, i.e. diversify your portfolio. Here’s a blurb from wikipedia:

Modern portfolio theory (MPT) is a theory of finance that attempts to maximize portfolio expected return for a given amount of portfolio risk, or equivalently minimize risk for a given level of expected return, by carefully choosing the proportions of various assets.

Hammer that into a person’s head for a few years and what you get is the prototypical upper management persona that is risk averse and likes “diversity”. So looking at it from the perspective of “portfolio theory” the whole thing makes sense. Different groups are working against each other because they were actually told to work against each other, not in so many words of course. If you look at the paper trail and read between the lines you’ll see that everyone was hedging their bets and putting 50% faith in one group and 45% faith in the other group and 5% who knows where. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which group delivers value as long as they deliver enough value to make one VP’s “portfolio” look good enough for their bonus.