Fixing a Company by Working There?

My mom used to work for a Delta subsidary, and after 9/11, she took a voluntary serverence. It was for the better, for her, in hindsight.

I worked for IBM in a 40 cube office that sat 3 contractors; the other 37 were layed off. After completing my contract early, I moved on.

I’ve wondered if my mom made a quantifiable difference while working there? Did the company improve from her positive attitude when helping various people over the phone and on sales visits? Could she make an impact? Does it matter?

I learned, when working for such a big company that actually consisted of many smaller companies that, there are so many facets and individuals, you cannot personify “IBM” onto everything you see while working there. Some of these inter-companies were run by a plethora of different individuals, from various backgrounds and on varying payscales. Some don’t really “represent” IBM, nor do all really know what IBM truly stands for.

A brand that irks me causes me to dislike the brand, regardless if there are positive faces within (positive faces based on faith in me believing there probably are good people behind the evil brand).

My tenure at IBM helps temper this since I can see beyond a brand’s many extensions, each with their own agendas. While I think some initiatives by Google are wrong, I think some are great as well. I put a face to Google, and judge it by it’s acts. I’m sure, like IBM, as I got to know people within it, my attitude and perceptions would change.

Does that potentially affect wanting to affect change at a company by working there? Not really the wanting, but the possibility of doing so?

There are companies I really don’t like, mainly because they are applicable to my needs and desires. Case in point, Real Media. I think their video codec is of low quality, their player is invasive, has been for years with no appearence of change, and overall bloated software with the intent to make them money, with that intent negatively affecting what the software is really supposed to do; allow you to watch video on the internet.

I feel I have a positive attitude, dig change, and want to do damn good work. If I went to work at Real, could I affect positive change? Could I make their player better? Would I care after I got to know people there? Would this positively affect my outcome? I’m a Flex & Flash Developer, not a C++ coder versed in video architectures, so probably not. Could I improve their player? Yeah, I bet I could. I’d ask my wife the IA what’s wrong, research & survey customers/users about their current perceptions and expectations, and think about ways in which to expand RealPlayer’s usefulness.

Is that what I really want to happen though? No. I want their video codec not to suck, and for their company not to portray themselves as an unethical, greedy company. I guess improving their player’s experience and usefulness is a start, but it doesn’t fix the core problem; bad codec and bad leadership. So, unless I learn C++ and/or get put in charge, could I really make a positive change, and if so, would it matter?

I know it’s really about my goals, and if I accomplish them since that is one way to recognize personal accomplishment. For me, though, that’s small potatoes; I want the big stuff.

Smaller companies are really a moot point for this entry, so I’m talking specifically about bigger companies.

If there is a facet of a company I do not like, but I am not qualified to fix, could I still fix it by working there? How would that change as I got to know people there? Would those relationships help affect positive change?

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