Revenue numbers are terrible and the layoffs are not surprising. No company can keep workers to its detriment for too long. Still, I wonder if the SAS could still have done more for us?
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The OP makes a lot of salient points. SAS was built on a foundation of strong innovation which began with Tony Barr and was greatly expanded by the vision of Jim and John. Some of the smartest and most conscientious people I’ve ever known were R&D employees. Over the decades we built something of great significance with MVA and to some degree TK (insofar as TK provided a way to exploit parallelism during an era in computing history when multiple OS and machine architecture still mattered.
Until about 2000, R&D devs had to earn CRED and promotions were not given lightly, e.g. often took 15 years of being a top developer in your division to make Principal. While SAS was never keen on paying for additional professional training or work-related technical degrees, the environment in R&D from the early 80s until at least the late 90s provided ample opportunities for the motivated to grow unique and deep technical skills. If you were willing to invest in a few books and work more than 35 hours a week, the opportunity to grow deep and unique technical skills was available. For some, this remained true well into the 2000s but required recognized talent and considerable commitment.
The SAS dev culture began shifting in the early 2000’s. Progressively it became much more about politics and appearances than it did about growing the depth and reach of our technology from its core. A hierarchy of R&D and organizational fiefdoms emerged, resulting in considerable duplication of effort, the construction of several stupid, irrelevant products, and to some degree, the dilution of SAS’ product identity.
From about 2005 until present, SAS Executives have made a series of miscalculations and missteps regarding cloud computing, integrating data management with analytics, open source, and the ability of competition (especially the major cloud vendors) to attract the best engineering minds. What is truly sad, is that much of this could’ve been avoided had the voice of talented, conscientious SAS employees been heard. Instead, these voices were often squelched and in some cases even bullied by self-interested managers, directors and executives.
Well, SAS never promised us lifetime employment. As employers go, it was better than most.
Could they have done more for us? Of course, but people are people. We can't expect perfection.
#2, #3, and #4 apply, but #5 had the most impact. All the best managers I ever had were at SAS. Unfortunately, so were all the worst ones.
Most managers are kind, decent people, who genuinely care about their employees. Some are incompetent. A few are toxic abusers. SAS has all three types, and once they get in management, there is almost no way to get them out.
Beyond the impact on the culture, this impacted the revenue stream. The original revenue stream built by Tony Barr and expanded by Jim Goodnight is a work of brilliance -- still going, 40 years later.
But where is the next revenue stream? The brilliant leaders who could build such a thing were not the type who got promoted.
2, 3, 4, 5 all the way. Because then we could have weathered the pandemic better.
It’s impossible to underestimate the effect that completely incompetent managers and directors and even VPs have on the people doing the work every day. It’s disgusting. There’s NO consequences for being totally useless and that is not ok.
Please for the love of god CLEAN HOUSE. Get rid of these lazy entitled people who have no business managing or directing anything or anyone. They are what’s hurting the company and making high performers want to leave.
Covid took away several of the things that kept people hanging on even with awful managers. Now we don’t know if we’ll ever get those things back, so there’s even less mitigating the ineptitude.
Once upon a time I was proud to work at SAS. With every year that goes by and I watch managers and directors collecting fat paychecks for not only doing nothing but for actually harming productivity and morale. They will be the death of us and it has got to stop.
Sure they could have. Here are some things they could have done:
- Been honest about the situation and not gaslighted employees with all the phony happy talk pep speeches over the years.
- Managed the company and each product line like a business unit instead of an entitlement program.
- Done away with the nepotism.
- Not played favorites regarding who you knew or who you blew.
- Fired incompetent managers.
- Stopped recruiting NCSU interns.
- Hired managers from outside.
- Listened to and acted upon customer and internal feedback.
- Focused more on growing the products than PR and surveys.
This list could go on. Please add to it!