By Ennio Carboni, President, Network Management Division
What does it mean to run a company with strong values? How does a commitment to “do the right thing” as it’s applied to employees, customers, and other stakeholders affect an organization’s daily decision making? I found out yesterday.
For the past eighteen months, the R&D super men and women of our company have been busy at work designing and coding phase one of the next generation WhatsUp Gold product architecture and today was scheduled to be our release day – a celebration employees, partners, customers and selfish me were looking forward to for months. We service an international list of SMB and enterprise customers and our reputation for delivering quality, easy to use and functional software is our best marketing source for leads – and has been for twenty years. We had our last check-in as a team at 5pm yesterday and that’s when I heard it. Yup! The words no one wants to speak, never mind listen too. “We found a small defect and we don’t believe it will impact more than 10% of our customers but we feel it is prudent to let you all know…”
At that instance as President you realize how challenging it is to operate a business the right way. Everyone is watching you and the decision you make to understand the tone of how the business is run. The echoes of “Less than 10% of our existing population is impacted” and “We have all our release messages and parties planned” and “Partners have been notified of the release” all repeat themselves in your head like that Lawrence Welk song collection you hear at the supermarket. And companies operate with different leaders and agendas. Some MBA types might calculate the probability of how many calls from affected customers may come and whether that outweighs a delay in revenue from the slip date. Other may not care that much and release it and preach, “That’s why we sell maintenance!” Trust me, that comment is not far from the truth that I, and countless others, have seen.
We are different here at Ipswitch. In truth, we could have shipped; in this morning’s review meeting I noted we would have generated less than a few hundred calls over 6 months and with a patch release in the next 10 days that number would have likely been less. Did I make an error in stalling the release? I don’t think so. My team doesn’t think so either. Our customers will definitively not think so.
We try hard to do the right thing and the benefit of being a private company is that we answer only to the expectations we set for ourselves and the customers we serve. No bankers at the gates to fight off. No third parties interested in maximizing our profitability in 3 months so they can sell us off. We lead by example and our workforce learns and approves of the high bar we set for ourselves and the markets we serve. I will never make a decision that compromises the values we set forth with our customers because of the short term pain it causes for our employees and partners.
I believe my responsibility is to lead this company to grow the right way which translates into a sustainable and value-centric growth plan as we drive to $100M.