Large Companies Suck, or Why NIH floats to the top when it shouldn’t

One would be forgiven for thinking that large companies would have learnt the lesson of NIH, yet, often that is not the case. Product Management should look for the warning signs, and slay the NIH beast

The Dude is back for a second post today. He is on fire. As you may recall, his employer, Dysfunctosoft, is built from a large number of small to medium acquisitions. Not uncommon, or unusual. However, the way the company is structured is that there is a core group of Business units that support our mainline product, and then we have these “Portfolio” products. They were often acquired with a piece of interesting “core” technology, but have proven profitable to keep in the family, so to speak.

So we have a giant core set of technologies and capabilities, with a well structured strategic direction, and these oddballs that sit away from core, but since they are humongously profitable, they are given just enough money and freedom to continue being who they were.

We are one of those “portfolio” products. We are looking at expanding our product footprint, and moving into the 21st century, extending to where anyone with eyes can see we should go. But, therin lies the rub. The best way forward would be to pick one of the plethora of small niche players in where we want to go, and buy them. There are plenty that are strong in technology, complimentary to our core mission, and most importantly, affordable to buy.

But, truth be told, if our overlords were to make an acquisition, our BU might not be the landing spot for this technology. In fact, one of the other BU GM’s is loudly making claims to “own” this business extension. So, what do we do?

The Right Thing:

Acquire the technology, and fight it out where it will live. Even if it isn’t in our group, it is compelling, and a strong play to extend our reach.

Or the Wrong Thing:

Build our own. Assume that we know what the market needs more than the 40+ niche players, and that our connection with the Fortune 500 will make us the ultimate victors, even coming from behind.

You guessed it. All attempts to direct the discussion to buy are being rebuffed, so that the two competing GM’s can have a pissing match, and extent their empires. So we will piss away our precious development resources to be a johnny come lately, me too product that will perpetually be behind in developing the product.

Somebody pour me a drink. I wish that I could say that this was unique to Dysfunctosoft, but I suspect that all large, multi-division companies are similar.


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