Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Open letter to Mike Lawrie, incoming CEO of CSC

Dear Mike,

Congratulations on being elected President and CEO of CSC and our best wishes for every success.

As you get in-depth briefings and advice from Messrs Laphen, Mancuso and Chase, bear in mind that they carry more responsibility for CSC’s difficulties today than anybody else.  And if you follow their advice you will probably achieve the same result as they did, meaning abject failure. So we’d like to give you our advice based solely on our desire to see CSC succeed once more.

·         Position your arrival as a major change in direction, culture and approach for CSC,  not as an evolution or some form of continuity with the past.  Harness the employees’ frustrations with the management style of the past 5 years to get their commitment and buy in to your vision of CSC.

·         Set a clear strategic direction, communicate it then get the organization behind it.  If CSC has had a direction over the past 5 years it is a well kept secret. Boosting this quarter’s earnings or plugging the hole in this quarter’s profit is not a strategic direction.

·         Decide in which areas CSC will be world leader  and make the investments to support those decisions. CSC was recognized as a world leader in selected domains 10 years ago.  Today it is viewed as a “me too” player.  It has missed many market changes and opportunities in the past years due to its obsession with maximizing this quarter’s earnings at the expense of everything else, including investments in the future.

·         Put the client, his business needs and the CSC solution to these needs back at the center  of the management agenda. CSC has lost this. Internal debates, administration, cost cutting, inspection of 'numbers', organization models etc dominate the management agenda today which means the customer comes last and the employees nowhere.

·         Decide your organizational and operating model and give senior executives the option of implementing it fully or leaving the company.   CSC has been going round and round this topic, especially in Europe, for years.  In theory there is one global organization per the Corporate model, but in reality there are local fiefdoms run by powerful barons. CSC must behave as one global organization, not as a franchise operation.

·         Put small company values back into CSC, which  used to be a large company with the positive values of a small company. It was nimble, it could take decisions quickly. It could quickly deploy a top-class team of experts from all over the world to address a client opportunity. It could swiftly bring together executives of all levels, from technical expert to CEO, to address urgent client matters and take decisions while the competition was standing still. Today, CSC stands still, a small company with a heavy bureaucratic decision making process, (or often an “absence of decision” making  process) while nimbler competitors thrive.

·         Change the “Tone at the Top” .   This phrase was used to describe the change needed in management attitudes in Nordic. But the most important and most needed change in the “tone at the top” is at the very top levels of CSC, to bring reality into line with the values the company claims to espouse.

Why did no “whistle blower “ feel comfortable enough to warn CSC Corporate that they suspected something unusual was happening in Nordic when the irregularities started  long before they reached the $100million?  Did Messrs Laphen  or Mancuso ever ask themselves that question? Did they try to find out how other employees’ concerns, or allegations of inappropriate management behavior or actions had been handled in the past?  Did they ever try to see if there was a correlation between employees making complaints and leaving the company soon afterwards?

CSC should have one common set of behavioral standards, and the example must come from the top.  Credibility in management is destroyed when the executive decision makers grant exceptions from their own rules for themselves.

Stop “killing the messengers” who try to raise issues or bad news.   This approach never solves the problem, it just encourages people to hide things from the management. If you can persuade employees to discuss their problems openly with you and your executive team you will have made a big step forward. Today many, many employees feel that “keeping their heads down” is their safest and best option. 

Get back to treating all employees with respect, including (or especially) those you must terminate.  

·         Introduce a CSC website that reflects your vision and ambitions for CSC.      After all, the website is the company’s window onto the world. The current website has no sparkle, no excitement and does not make the reader want to look inside it. It is the website you would expect from an administrative organization. In that respect it reflects well what CSC is today. Make it represent the CSC you want in 2017. 

We would like to repeat our best wishes for success. The value of our holding in CSC over the past 18 months reminds us that we have got literally thousands of reasons to want to see a successful and thriving CSC.

Good luck !

The Cassandra Team


Anonymous said...

Very well put, with many spot on points. Employees with heads down . . . fiefdoms . . . mediocre, lackluster, and vindictive management . . . rules apply to everyone but me management . . . arrogance and lack of respect . . . no wonder this is a big company that seems to be working hard to turn itself into a small company.

Please, let's have leadership, not management!

Anonymous said...


Hope he can break the silo's down and the "boys club" which infests the company

Anonymous said...

Pretty Much Spot On! There are many problems, but one that I have seen for many many years, and that is that HR "competes" practically every job. While this might sound good... CSC is not Burger King. It takes a long time to develop as a strong tech and program LEADER. Notice I said LEADER, not manager. CSC managers are almost never leaders. Now you have people coming in with trumped up resumes and being hired over a person that has been working up through the ranks and succeeding for 12 years. Usually the only people that see the resume are people that can not tell the difference. There is a saying at CSC that the fastest way to get promoted is to quit, and come back. This is a proven CSC strategy. My suggestion is that if your a mom that is staying home with the baby for a couple of years, do not rush back to work. Take a loan, get an MBA and come back in at $150K+++

Also, much of the incredible bureaucracy is simply a manifestation of a lack of vision! This internal service crap drives up internal operations costs more than anyone would believe and creates so much friction that there is little if any agility. Many internal budgets are effectively locked down 18 months ahead of time. The global CIO office actually thinks it services "The CSC Account" and provides the same services to Dupont as CSC. Again, while that sounds good, that just means we have no competitive advantage and no motivation to invest. They might point to the LEF, what a joke... we need to be pressing the boundaries with 1000 times the investment $$$s oh well, we shall see. CSC has 1000s of very smart people that die in the trenches every year.. that is why the money is made, to bad it is frizzaled away so foolishly by management.

Anonymous said...

Looks like NW's gone walk abouts too!

Peter Farrell-Vinay said...

CSCs support systems are known to be awful. They should be tested properly and replaced.

CSC has tried to improve its testing ability by buying Applabs. One cheer only. Applabs staff will discover they are there to make profits, not prevent buggy systems from being fielded. If in doubt they can ask the existing test practice heads in CSC.

Firing the corporate head of audit was a good move. Getting a solid corporate team to report on the technical as well as financial statuses will be better. Acting on their advice will be best.

Laphen's reign was characterised by a mass of "DA reviews" which rarely resulted in anything more than a game of corporate deckchairs.

Anonymous said...

I worked with CSC India for 3 years.

CSC India management

1) is from worst colleges of India. Educational qualification will reveal a pattern. These medicores hire mediocre employees.

2. Sits in Cabin. Bright staff members are called to cabin 10 times a day to make them feel small. Its very humiliating. If cabins are removed at-least 200 FTE space can be created and lower the cost of operation. Also it will be a moral booster. Already most of the management is scared that they will loose cabin as Mike Lawrie has already left his cabin.

3. appear to be relatives in some cases.

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