Organizational Frailty as a Strategic Advantage

In 1998, DWD came out with a product that conquered the market. Almost every police department, internal security ministry, and sleuth agency was quick to purchase the product as well as  pay the large monthly service fee. In 1998, DWD’s product division had 20 engineers and by 2014, they had 8977, scattered in 6 development sites!

DWD knew that their account management division was weak in Russia, Germany, Australia/NZ and Japan. They had lost HUGE key clients in all four areas, which tarnished  their reputation, albeit not severely. CEO Arthur Laurier told me in 2001: “I want you to focus all your attention on the quality of account management. It’s the most frail part of DWD”.

HR manager Nicole Abd and I worked together to recruit the very best acccount managers we would find. Nicole would recruit them, and I would ensure that they learned to work well with the back office, which was Israeli, French and Dutch. Even when all was going well,the CEO grilled Nicole and me monthly about “what’s going wrong with the key account managers?” Until the bitter end, DWD retained the best of its account managers.

In the meantime, the product division, convinced that their product was “built to last”, recruited hundreds of mediocre engineers to keep their product afloat. Feedback from the field that their product was getting clumsy and too “stand-alone-ish” was ignored. In 2017, in a massive AI-based paradigm shift, DWD lost 60% of their clientelle to a new suite of products developed in Taiwan. The senior engineers in the product division bolted and the next generation of managers were B grade at most. By 2022, DWD’s products were uninstalled everywhere except for Cuba, RSA and Romania.

The perception of what was “frail” and what a major pillar of success had focused all the attention on the wrong place. What is strong today is weak tomorrow, and if you work on your weakness with vigour, they won’t remain your weaknesses for long.

So always question what issues your client asks you to ignore.



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