October 7, 2005 at 10:25 am #21126
I just finished reading a book called “Good Business” by a philosopher with a name I can’t spell or pronounce… anyway, he speaks of businesses that do great things for society, and you certainly did with your company–the games you put out changed lives, and I’m sure it was an awesome place to work in the good ol’ days. I’m curious, though, as to what extent Sierra encouraged their employees to go out and do stuff for the community? Were there any “volunteer” days where people got together and did stuff, perhaps a Friday or a weekend? Did Sierra match donations to certain charities? Anything that helped other people who might not have been part of developing or playing a game?
I know, certainly, that tours were given to some. When I was sick with cancer I saw the Belleveue office and that’s probably part of why I was alive today. I think good deeds spread, and I hope someday I can do awesome things, but a glimpse from the past may help me to get ideas. 🙂
October 7, 2005 at 11:28 am #21127
I’ve always had a personal objection to corporations “taking sides” on non-business issues.
This topic came up many times at management meetings, and I always had the same answer – “I’m willing to designate a percentage of corporate earnings for an employee-directed action committee”. In other words, there are many good causes out there, but I didn’t believe the company should decide which ones to fund. I was willing to contribute corporate funds to employees who wanted to take the time to study the options, but for reasons unknown to me, no committee was ever formed.
They say that corporate culture comes from the top, and I accept that I was probably the guilty party on this. Shipping great product was never easy. I really was 100% focused on things customers could see, and everything else I always considered a distraction.
PS Thank you for the kind words!
October 8, 2005 at 5:08 am #21128
“… (by Dave Kristula) Ken,
I just finished reading a book called “Good Business” by a philosopher with a name I can’t spell or pronounce… …”
Professor Csikszentmihalyi’s surname is pronounced “chik-sent-mee-hi-ee”
April 7, 2006 at 4:54 pm #21129
This is somewhat redundant to another message of yours I answered… but, I’ll answer again anyhow…
…firstname.lastname@example.org, 2006-04-07 08:17:04
Gotta give a little credit here. You (in the VERY early days) gave local mom and pop businesses a cash flow they may never have seen in decades (especially the printers). In the both plus and minus column – you indirectly helped Oakhurst blossom. As far as giving to the community – you actually sorta helped midwife it!
*** Thank you!
Weren’t always the most personable captain of your ship – but you steered us into some magical destinies in those very early days.
*** If anyone ever finds a way to run a business, making an endless stream of tough decisions, and win popularity contests simultaneously, have them call me!
Gotta ask ya – where do you think you lost control of the wheel? In all seriousness – was it venture capital and stock that drove decisions out of your hands and were ultimately responsible for the lay-offs (etc.).
*** The company grew from 0 to 1,000 employees during my 18 years running it. It never had a year where we lost money, and I doubt it has ever been as profitable as when I was running it. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘lost control of the wheel’? Are you referring to Sierra after it was sold?
*** There were definitely times while I ran the company where we had cut backs. Most of the time, this was accompanied by growth in some other division. I’ve talked elsewhere on the board about Sierra having been structured as a series of entrepreneurial business units. Organizations within Sierra grew or shrunk based on their ability to produce games customers wanted to buy. It would have been nice if every manager always could accurately deliver on their product revenue forecasts, and if all product development efforts finished on time, and on budget. This did not always occur, and sometimes careers were made, and sometimes they were broken. In professional baseball, a player is a superstar if they can hit the ball four times for each ten times at bat. Sierra was a little like that. We had our fair share of strikes, but we also had some homeruns, and overall, we won more games than our competitors.
You had an empire that was absolutely profitable. From a strictly business sense – to what do you attribute the beginning of the end. I was kinda shocked when you actually started getting outside managers (though in retrospect – you couldn’t be all things all the time and still map our destination as a company)…
*** At the time we sold Sierra, we were on top of the world, and had a great pipeline of products. Mistakes were made by the new owners. Actually… criminal mistakes were made by the new owners. But, that’s a whole other story.