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What's the Vision? - RF Cafe Forums

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Kirt Blattenberger
 Post subject: What's the Vision?
Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 878
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.

One 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 tell.

- Kirt Blattenberger :smt024
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster

 Post subject:
Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:35 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:07 pm
Posts: 365
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.

Posted  11/12/2012
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