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Letter From The Prison Essay

1267 words - 6 pages

1. My entire career was spent at Computer Associates and while I can’t tell you first-hand about the pressures in other companies or industries I believe that CA was among the most aggressive in its pursuit of goals, a fact often relayed to me by my industry peers. Both the CEO and I exerted significant pressure on our teams to meet the goals that we had set for ourselves. As you would expect this has a trickle-down effect to others in the organization. While from this perspective performance was measured by internal goals at an executive level these targets were primarily driven by the expectations set by outside parties, primarily the analyst community. While institutional investors were ...view middle of the document...

Even at the most senior levels of the business non-performance was not accepted. One thing that does emerge from this is the disparity in performance measurement across various functions. It is obviously easy to measure someone carrying a revenue target less so someone in development or support performance management for non-revenue areas of the organization was poor at best and created a great deal of tension between the various departments in the organizations.

4. The management of financial performance has become a service, one that is very widely practiced. Speaking again of the technology industry a wide variety of practices exists and are utilized by virtually all of the larger technology companies. Reserve manipulation, product release dates, sales incentives, channel management and shipping procedures are a few of the more common ones. Again, all of these are legal, but definitely cloud the ability of anyone to get a true picture of the health of an organization through their financial statements.

5. Ultimately the lines between legal and illegal as it relates to some of the practices above become very blurry and are subject to individual interpretation. The intention of all this behavior is to meet expectations and once you have started down that path even small changes in procedures leaves you and the organization vulnerable. For example if one makes an arrangement to decrease the size of your provision for bad debt that decision becomes a subjective assessment particularly when you are dealing with multimillion dollar accounts versus consumer products. As such one can make any arrangement, and support it, to adjust reserves as needed. Another example would be the timing of product releases. Delay of a general release, for whatever reason, defers the recognition of any revenue received for that product. Releasing a product early accelerates the revenue recognition.

6. I believe that compensation is becoming more and more aligned to the interest of shareholders and ultimately compensation of your most senior executives. For the vast majority of your high performance employees compensation is critical in driving their behavior. The challenge is always in balancing the complexity of a compensation plan with the desired behavior. We spent a significant amount of time aligning the compensation of employees to the corporate goals.

7. Option compensation will continue to be a critical component of compensation for executives as it simplistically aligns the executives’ pay to shareholder value in its simplest sense. I don’t believe that options compensation is the primary driver of behavior when things shift from the legal to the illegal. As with most senior executives in industry, ego is a huge driver in individual behavior. Compensation is important, but the recognition of your...

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