What's the Vision? - RF Cafe Forums
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Post subject: What's the Vision?
Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:59 am
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Erie, PA
An engineer friend of mine, Mike C., wrote to
me from Colorado Springs a few days ago. I worked with him there
at a defense company, where we both worked as outside
contractors, back in the late 1990s. He was the digital design
guy and I handled the analog and RF for doing a modification for
some satellite earth station equipment test racks at what is now
Schriever Air Force Base (Falcon AFB then). To make a long story
short, we were hired to fill an urgent need to satisfy a
contract by the prime contractor, and after about four months,
the contract went away. Anyone who has worked in the defense
contracting business is very familiar with the scenario.
Anyway, the consulting company that Mike and I worked for was
named Systems Technology Associates (STA). They specialized in
government contracting and had a staff consisting almost
exclusively of retired Air Force and Army officers from the
nearby Peterson AFB and Ft. Carson. The head of the HR
department was a retired Brigadier General. Probably the only
reason we got hired was because their people were computer
systems and logistics specialists, and knew not much about
hardware. Mike is a whiz kid at digital design and software, and
I knew my way around RF stuff pretty well., so we were hired.
Mike is a brilliant guy – the type that effortlessly made
straight-As in school and seems to be able to figure out just
about anything. He is also quite the wit and is not afraid to
tweak people to see how far he can go with them until they catch
on to his taunting. It is hilarious to behold. After witnessing
him in action on a few occasions, I can easily believe his
stories of past episodes, especially those that were brought on
by people attempting to tweak him first. His straight-faced
approach is a trademark.
One instance involves the need
most companies seem to have to formulate a company mission
statement, or “vision.” That one in particular is a long-running
joke between us. Mike tells the story of how, while working for
one company in California years ago, there was an inordinately
high emphasis placed on memorizing "The Vision.” After getting
fed up with the inanity of such an irrational focus on the
utterance of one simple sentence that was nothing other than a
slight modification of every other company’s vision statement,
he began mocking it by feigning being a staunch advocate of the
importance of memorizing it. At every opportunity, he would walk
up to new employees and tell them not to look at the back of
their ID badge (where The Vision was emblazoned) and to recite
The Vision. More often than not he would be met with a
frightened blank stare. If the victim did not know The Vision,
which of course most did not, he would lecture them on the
importance of being a team player and the necessity of knowing
The Vision. It subject came up initially because the company
where we were doing our consultancy happened to have their own
Vision on the back of badges that were issued to us.
more thing. This might not be as funny to you having not been
there, but he took a parting jab at STA as he resigned to work
for another company after the debacle at Allied Signal. During
the exit interview with STA, he kept referring to the company by
pronouncing STA as “stuh.” Of course, they never even considered
that someone might try to use the phonetic pronunciation of STA,
rather than saying the three letters in succession. So, after
talking about working for “Stuh” a number of times during the
exit interview, the lady there stopped him to ask, “What is this
Stuh you keep referring to?” His response was a feigned serious,
“Us, you, you’re Stuh,” to which the lady responded in
amazement, “We don’t say Stuh, we’re S-T-A.” I can just imagine
the sly grin on his face after that exchange. As usual, Mike got
exactly what he had intended.
That’s why I still keep in
contact after lo these many years. He always has a good story to
- Kirt Blattenberger
Progenitor & Webmaster
Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:35 am
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:07 pm
Location: London UK
I was working alongside some NY high-tech investors creating a
broadband wireless network in Europe during the boom years.
Their watchword was "Vision is key" so the word vision not
only brought back some mixed memories, but reminded me of an
even earlier experience working for a UK competitor to the
once-pre-Thatcher state telecom company, BT. We had inherited a
herd of bright young things from BT management training courses,
and we (the engineers that is) loved to sit in BS meetings with
them ticking off all the buzzy expressions they were spouting.
We met for coffee afterwards and compared notes, scoring points
for really buzzy expressions.
So I have made a separate
posting on this topic, with a few notes I took myself at the
time. Many have died, but sadly many have now become the
everyday currency of techno-speak.