The companies in these stories are fictitious. Any resemblance to real companies, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
"I dunno, George," Trenton grunted as he finished slicing his drive into the rough between fairways, "Crap! Anyway, I've had the best consultants in. I've talked to everybody on the Executive team, and they all tell me the same thing: 'Sell the company'!"
George Caulder was Trenton Garvey's best friend. Had been since high school. Trent didn't mind sharing secrets with him because George was a Teacher at the local high school, and would never pass on any of what he heard
"There's got to be another way!" George said as he punched a wooden peg into the gouged sod near the front of the tee, balancing his ball carefully on top of it.
Neither of them noticed the glance that one of their impromptu foursome gave his partner. A few weeks earlier Phillip Masters and his longtime friend Walter Jackson had been involved in a heated discussion about the frustrations they had experienced with the companies for which they worked.
"I just can't believe they're so fucking blind!" Walter kicked an overstuffed chair in his frustration, "If you don't think like them, you can't have a good idea! What a load of shit!"
"Nah," Phil mumbled through the foam on his beer glass, "they just don't have to suffer the consequences of their poor decision-making! If somebody was there to kick their asses every time they screwed up, they'd HAVE to make better decisions."
"Maybe we should start a consulting company to do that for them!" Walter laughed, his white teeth gleaming in the midst of his ebony countenance, "We could call it 'Kick Ass Consulting'!"
"Nah," Phil said again, "We'd want a kick-ass name, but in a subdued way, y'know? How many of these pucker butts we work for do you think would hire a firm called 'Kick Ass Consulting'? We need something more reserved, but upbeat, you know?"
"Are you serious about this?" Walter's brow furrowed as he contemplated his red-haired friend.
Phil shrugged, "Not really, but who knows? Some great businesses have come from insane ideas..."
"All right," Walter joked, "That's enough beer for you, dude!"
Phil shrugged, and grinned that infectious grin that was his trademark, "Hey, can't blame a guy for puttin' his brain in gear! And by the way, I've hardly touched the beer!"
"Jesus Christ, George!" Trenton complained as they trudged down the fairway, caddies hauling their carts for them, "The damn company has been around for years! I know my shit! I couldn't have screwed it up that badly! Hell, we're even still profitable, but we're stagnating! The only way we can get new product is to buy other companies. Something's gotta give, but I'm damned if I know what! This last layoff is going to hurt us down the road. We've weeded out everything we can from recruiting, development, sales, and business development, and now we've had to hit support and consulting. We saved some money by sending our support offshore, but the customers complain that they can't understand those people in India, and they're getting really nasty about it!"
"Hey, let 'em complain!" George replied absent-mindedly, as his eyes searched the fairway for his ball, "They've invested a ton in your systems and a little inconvenience with support isn't going to make 'em jump ship. Too much momentum!"
"Maybe so, but I've got a bunch of big software licenses coming up for renewal," Trent griped as he beat the tall grass of the rough looking for his ball, "And a lot of 'em are making noises like they're going somewhere else. It's not like when we started. Hell everybody out there does what we do! We don't have time to invent anything anymore. Our entire development budget is taken up with bug fixing and putting in all the features that our competitors have introduced. It was a hell of a lot easier when we had the market to ourselves, I can tell you!"
Phil gave Walt another grin. Walt grinned back.
"Hey Walt!" Phil called from across the pub, "I've got it!"
"Got what?" Walt didn't have to raise his voice. This time of day there weren't many people in their favorite watering hole. That was why they always took an early lunch.
"The name for our company!" Phil grinned.
"Company? What company?"
"You know," Phil coaxed, "the consulting company we talked about the other day!"
"You're still thinking about that?" Walt chided, "Hell, I thought we were joking!"
"We were, but it kind of stuck with me." Phil said, "I think it would be fun to think it out, as if we were going to do it. Make kind of a game out of it, you know?"
Walt grinned, wiping at his foam mustache with a bar napkin. "Yeah, I guess it would be fun at that! So what did you come up with?"
"Check it out!" Phil handed him a slick new business card.
"'Success, Inc.'" Walt read, "But aren't most consulting firms partnerships or something? By the way how much did you spend to get a process color print job on this? Christ, that's awfully expensive for a game!"
"Most consulting firms are actually corporations," Phil replied, "but they don't advertise it. Companies want a corp-to-corp relationship with their contractors now because of the tax law changes. And no, I didn't spend squat on the cards. Bought some of those 'clean edge' business card forms at the office supply place and designed the logo in Illustrator. Did a little layout work and printed 'em on my photo-quality inkjet!"
"Damn!" Walt exclaimed, "They look professional!"
"Cool, huh?" Phil said smugly, "Oh yeah, I did something else, too!"
He pulled a red file folder from his laptop case and handed it to Walt.
"I tried to think of ten fundamental principles for running a company to ensure long term success," he said as Walt scanned the paper inside the folder, "but I need your input. I think numbers eight and ten are a little weak, and I'm not sure they're really 'fundamental principles'."
"Why ten?" Walt asked absently.
"It's kind of a magic number." Phil said, "Easy to remember, and big enough to hold sigificant content, but not so large that, with a little effort, one couldn't remember what's on a ten-item list."
"Number eight is just a corollary to number four." Walt had always been the more analytical of the two. In fact, it had been the complement of Phil's visionary creativity and Walt's keen analytical mind that had made them such a successful team at Cal Poly where they had done their business studies. Each time one had a project to complete, they'd work together to come up with something that usually blew the profs away!
"Number ten is okay, but I don't think it's fundamental enough." Walt continued, "I think there's a deeper principle under that. Let me look 'em over and I'll give 'em back to you next week. I think we need stronger, more concrete language on a couple of 'em too."
"So what are you going to do?" George asked as his five iron came to rest on his shoulder. The ball hit the slope at the back of the green and rolled back toward the hole.
"Damned if I know!" Trent had cut his losses and chipped out of the rough, but the seven iron shot from the fairway put him smack in the bunker. "I've got maybe two more quarters before the board decides we need new blood, and if I don't come up with something, I guess I'll be pounding the pavement."
"Excuse me, sir!" Phil said on impulse, as he pulled one of his home-made business cards from his wallet, "I... that is, WE, can help!"
Walt's mouth dropped open in astonishment as his buddy handed the card to Trenton.
"I apologize for the intrusion," Phil said, "but I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. You're in a bind. Exactly the kind of bind our firm, Success, Inc., was formed to help companies out of."
Walt tried to get Phil's attention without the others noticing, but Phil studiously ignored him.
"How do you think YOU can help ME, son?" Trent asked skeptically. This kid looked like he was still wet behind the ears.
"It's true that I'm young, sir." Phil admitted, "but I have had the advantage of studying the experiences of some of the finest and some of the worst minds in business. One of the problems you're experiencing is a shortage of fresh thinking. Success, Inc. can show you how to overcome that by the application of a simple principle. We can also show you how to regain your market dominance, not by doing what everyone else does, but by showing everyone else how to best serve your customers."
Trent studied the card, and eyed the young man speculatively. "You'll have thirty minutes to convince me."
He handed the redheaded kid his own card. "Be there at eight AM, Monday morning!"
"No sir." Phil said firmly.
Walt's mouth dropped open again.
"Early Monday morning is one of the worst possible times for making important decisions." Phil lectured, "Tuesday, at 10:30 AM will be much better. You'll have cleared out any remaining cobwebs from the weekend and will be totally focussed on work. Our proposal will require your total concentration, so we will meet after the morning rush of Monday's leftover business, before hunger becomes a factor but not after a meal, so you won't feel drowsy."
Trent stared at the young punk for several long moments. Who the hell did he think he was, anyway! Damn cocksure little prick!
"Monday morning, eight AM or not at all!" Trent leaned into the guy's face. He was a tall, well built man and he knew his size could intimidate.
.... There is more of this story ...