Enron Mail

Date:Thu, 4 Oct 2001 19:30:32 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Ken,
I would like to apologize for not responding to the survey at the beginning of September. It wasn't a statement or anything. We were just up to our ears in a project that had to go out on the Wednesday following Labor Day. And the "well, I'll fill it out during lunch" is never a really good idea. Lunchtime disappears so quickly.
So by way of apology I am sending you this letter with some thoughts and observations about life at Enron. I hope you don't think I'm "line jumping" by doing this. But I've observed that surveys often get you information you want, not information you need. The numbers on the survey look good. But there's always room for improvement.
I'm very pleased that you're once again involved in the day-to-day operations. I'm also very glad that you're emphasizing our values. I have to admit that they weren't the reason I came to Enron-I needed a job-but as soon as I was here, they became a major reason for staying. It's not just another job, if the values are believed and followed. The perks are nice, but I bet that the values have as much to do with our being named a great place to work as anything else.
I wonder, though, if everyone shares my-our-view. There was a rumor going around the day after the all-employee meeting that senior management was not happy when you announced we were going to reaffirm our values. That strikes me as a little too soon after the meeting to be totally credible, and I really can't picture senior management telling people what they really think about our values or anything, if they really think that way.
I also don't doubt that it's true. We seem to have gone from a company that treasures its intellectual capital and people to one where reorganizations and "disappearances" are more the order of the day. Although it's gotten a little better, our values right now seem to be FUD-a computer industry term for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Many people-myself included-spend a lot of time looking over our shoulders as we go through seemingly constant reorganization and reevaluation, waiting for the other shoe to drop-on us. Rumors (the whole unit is being phased out) were rampant, and it didn't help when the PEP scores came out with no indication why (really low) scores were given, or, more importantly, how we could go about improving our performance.
This doesn't strike me as the best way to increase productivity or esprit d' corps.
We need to add value to the values. As part of my initial orientation, Joe Sutton asked us to define and give examples of our values. A couple of months later, Jeff Skilling addressed "Enron at a Glance." He spent serious time explaining the importance of the values, too. Hey, I thought, these guys are serious about this stuff.
Since then, though, all my reinforcement about our values comes from the elevator, right after The Building Guy.
Last spring, we were all trooped over to the Doubletree to see the harassment players, costing a fair chunk of time and money, I'm guessing. So which, in my puny little brain, is more important? Where the dollars go, or the occasional reference in what somebody considers otherwise dead time?
There are ways we can adjust. I would like to suggest two possibilities. First, I would like to propose a refresher course in our values. Take time out of our days. Get in experts. Hire a hall. Give us cookies. Heck, maybe even lunch. Make the bigwigs in each unit do off-sites. They like off-sites.
We'll get the idea. This is important.
One other notion. You may recall bumper stickers that read, "Commit Random Acts of Kindness." I would like to suggest a "Random Acts of Values" award. Actually, I wouldn't want to make it an award. "Random Acts of Values" recognition? captured? Maybe.
I'll keep doing the day in and the day out, because it's the right thing to do, not because of an award. But recognizing what we think is important might give a boost to some other people. It will at least raise the profile. And it would also tell us something if the recognition was going to everyone except senior management. I'd really hate to see my rumormonger proven true.
I know we have the Chairman's Award. But I'm no Mark Herada. I would need two lifetimes to do half of what he's done. The Chairman's Award is really important, and I will nominate someone. People like Mark truly deserve it, and I know a couple. But it's one award, once a year.
We should recognize little moments. I have no idea how we would capture them, and I don't know what to do with a guy who is really respectful today and tomorrow resumes being a jerk. But we can figure out something.
And I'm suspecting that you really wouldn't be terribly bent out of shape if you had to recognize 20,000 values moments, especially if they were one per person.