Executive speeches, then and now

Jan. 10, 2002
Editorial CommentJanury 10, 2001There is a special language used by police and other law-enforcement people, not just in their reports but even in everyday conversations.
Editorial CommentJanury 10, 2001

There is a special language used by police and other law-enforcement people, not just in their reports but even in everyday conversations. They seem to believe that wearing a uniform requires them to talk with the stilted lingo used by cops on TV shows. It is a language in which men and women become males and females, children become juveniles, a criminal is a perpetrator, and someone caught red-handed committing a crime is a suspect.

Corporate executives making public statements also feel the need to use a special lingo tailored mostly to pussyfooting around unpleasantries and adding a sense of importance to events that aren't extraordinary. Let's consider a hypothetical speech given by an executive to his employees 20 years ago. Then we'll look at the same speech given today in the current business vernacular.

A Speech in 1981. Ladies and gentlemen. Our business of selling software has become too competitive. Many of you have asked whether or not our company is making money. Well, right now it's not. Sales are down substantially, and we don't know when they'll pick up again. So we are working on a new strategy. We have to stop wasting time on unprofitable projects and concentrate on things with a decent payoff.

If things get worse, we may even have layoffs. And we may farm out work to freelance programmers. One bright spot is that our best customer has asked us to write programs specifically for his business. Meanwhile, we must continue developing new software. So we'll take a close look at how we do things. We want to be at the top of the list when customers are ready to buy. Our software should handle every problem they have.

Tomorrow, I am meeting with our investors to ask for more money so we can stay in business. If they come through, you'll keep getting paychecks. If they don't, we could go bankrupt.

A Speech in 2001. Fellow team members. Our business of delivering solutions suffers from an oversupply situation in the global market. And many of you have asked whether or not we will be meeting our financial goals for the quarter. Unfortunately, our declining revenue base has adversely affected earnings. We won't meet our forecast and have had to reposition our outlook. Today's business environment is extremely challenging, and looking down the road, we don't know when there will be enough of a recovery for us to move our profitability to positive territory. So we are modifying our business model. We have to concentrate on fully leveraging our core operating competencies and market synergies.

In the worst case scenario, I can't rule out downsizing. And outsourcing some of our enterprise solutions is a distinct possibility. One bright spot is that our best customer has asked us to become part of his collaborative supply chain. Meanwhile, we have to make sure we keep new solutions in the pipeline. So we will review our product-development cycle and strengthen our branding process. We want our customers to think of us as a preferred provider. Our solutions should enable our customers to handle every requirement they have.

Going forward, we will be asking our investors for more venture capital so we can go where we want to go and develop our company to its full potential. If things work out, your stock options may even rise above water. If we don't get assistance, we may have to ask the court for protection from our creditors.

- Ronald Khol, Editor

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