A letter from Tel Aviv-the end of the plague is in site

Shutdown number three starts on Sunday. Luckily nothing in Israel is as it seems, so little enforcement is expected. The 1000 meter parameter in which one is allowed to wander is not enforced; the police  blockades leave one lane open yet the cops are busy texting in their patrol cars.

Stores are closed, except those that are open. True, it is hard to procure service of any kind, but that has always been the case. Just last week, a technician showed up two weeks after I bought a new washing machine to install it, since I cannot even unscrew a light bulb.

On December 29th, I will get my first corona shot at the Shuali Infirmary, which is situated on land which used to belong to my family, procured from the Turks in early 1917. Right near that clinic, there is a street named after our family. Uncle Jack (my grandfather’s brother) and Auntie Ida (my grandfather’s sister) are heroes of mine. Uncle Jack once went to the province of Syria to buy tobacco seeds in the 1920’s. Auntie Ida spent a lot of time caring for Jewish and Arab orphans in Jerusalem before she married and became a farmer’s wife and mother. Oh yes, and she wrote for the Palestine Post.

Rarely have I been as excited as I am to get vaccinated. All my life, but especially since my wife died, I have suffered from hypochondria, so I always take all my shots right on day one. Nevertheless, it is with great trepidation that I roll up my sleeve and I  always look away. This time, I plan to look at the needle to watch the process, and perhaps yell out, hallelujah bother.

Three weeks after my first vaccination comes the second, and then I am out of the woods. But I’m not going back to the status quo ante. For one, I have stopped watching the news. I stopped cold turkey one month ago; I had no withdrawal symptoms, just relief. I stopped not because of the news, but because of the quality of journalism. I have also decided not to vote again in any election and since I have never voted for a candidate who has been it elected, it’ll be no big loss.

Have I  retired from life and am I slip-sliding away? Hardly. I have a very active professional practice, my two blogs have huge readership, I read all the time, and I hereby declare that I addicted to several Netflix series, including Better Call Saul, Casa de Papel and historical documentaries.

The various shut downs have taught me to enjoy “emptiness” and quiet, to revel in doing nothing from time to time, to rejoice at the lack of pressure in my life, and to cultivate friendships with people all over the world based on preference and not necessarily  geographical propinquity. This is a huge gift.

I miss my grandchildren something awful, but soon this longing  will be over;  when I get my 2nd shot and restrictions are eased , I will wing it to Palo Alto as well as drive over to my daughter (who lives close by)  to sit in her living room, not on the porch as if in in a leper colony.

For me, this plague has brought pain and perspective, in equal measure. The end is near.

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After an acquisition, the organization caste system changes

An acquisition is not a tea party, especially if you happen to be on the acquired side. Beside the very few people who get a hefty payment for selling off the firm, the acquired team’s patricians  are often stripped of their status formally and informally, visibly and invisibly, physically and emotionally.

Patricians  of the acquired team have new masters, and these masters are not just the people in parallel positions of the dominant  company.

An acquired CFO (who is probably demoted to Business Unit Financial Officer)  does not only have to deal with his new boss, but also with the mindset of every finance employee who claims that “we bought you”, so do it our way. 

An acquired HR manager will see access to key figures blocked off; programs from the old company will be labelled legacy, and then killed off. The verbiage and lingo, titles and perk-management will be realigned with the ways of the new ruling caste.

Engineering management will force-feed new procedures and tools, hindering and crippling development efforts of the acquired company, even if the acquired company was purchased for its innovation.

Changes in the IT system will make life a nightmare for the acquired company, making it very hard to do the simplest things for months after months. 

In short the dominant caste of the acquired company is decimated, although there may be an OD violinist  playing a song in the background about “Merging Two Cultures into One”.

However, it does happen that people in the acquired company get enhanced status, far more than they had in the legacy company. For example-

If the acquiring company is Chinese or Israeli, Mandarin or Hebrew speakers in the legacy company will have more importance than it in the past.

If someone was extra cooperative in the due diligence process and spilled the beans about the weaknesses of the acquired company, these “turncoats”, so to speak, may be compensated with enhanced status.

And of course, key account managers of the acquired company get a “pass” into the new ruling class by dint of the relationships that they hold with legacy clients.

At the society level, caste dies very hard, if at all, in processes that last centuries. In organizations, death by caste reassignment happens quickly and thus, allows us to observe changes in the caste system at a galloping pace. Is all the above inevitable? I would say that the process is Darwinian, and the human effort can mitigate the pain by proper risk mitigation planning during the post merger integration phase, which takes up to six years.

 

 

 

 

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