If you have ever worked in a large company I am sure you can relate to this. This is a story about someone, let’s call him Harry, who works for a large company who we will refer to as GlobalTech. Harry has been very responsible with the budget for his group, spending only what is really needed and always trying to get the best deal possible. These values he imparts on his team members who behave responsibly, in many ways acting like a startup in a big company by always trying to stretch resources. Harry has the attitude that at the end of the year he is going to return his unspent budget to GlobalTech because that’s the kind of attitude he would want to see if he were a shareholder of GlobalTech, which he is. It may be his budget but it’s not his money, it belongs to the shareholders.
All throughout the year Harry hears from his colleagues about how they are going to spend all of their budget by Q3 because invariably it gets taken away in the Q4 crunch, and also because if they don’t spend all their budget by the end of the year it will get reduced next year. Harry hears all this, and knows that it’s the norm in other companies too, but fundamentally believes it’s wrong to put in place a system that encourages people to waste for the “use it or lose it” reason. Harry also believes that in that ideal corporation, based in Fantasy Land, that companies would actually incentivize and reward management for wisely spending shareholder resources.
Q3 rolls around and sure enough there is an budget crunch, Harry’s budget is frozen even though he is well under his quarterly and year-to-date numbers. Harry is fucked for doing the right thing and he is pissed. The moral of this story is that companies aren’t logical or rational and doing the right thing isn’t rewarded.