Posts Tagged ‘sensis’

The Split

February 1, 2014 2 comments

While reflecting on my journey through professional life, I decided to generate a timeline of my travels to date:

My History

After a seven year stint at GE, I joined Sensis (SENsor Information Systems) Corporation in 1987 as employee #13. For 20+ years, the company flourished and grew until running into financial difficulties in 2009. After choosing Sweden’s Saab AB from a list of suitors as our future parent, we were purchased in 2011 and our name was changed accordingly to Saab Sensis Corp.

Due to the funky national security complications of being a foreign-owned company that does business with the US Department of Defense, it made financial sense to split the group in two – a subgroup that conducts business with the US DoD (Saab Sensor Systems) and one that doesn’t (Saab Sensis). A functional and physical split would lift the DoD security restrictions hampering the non-DoD business efforts of the Saab Sensis group.

After expressing a personal preference to be placed at Saab Sensis, I ended up being assigned to the Saab Sensor Systems group when the split was finalized in the fall of 2013. So far, it has worked out better than I initially thought it would. The high quality of the people and the work  is essentially the same between the two groups, but Saab Sensor Systems is roughly half the size of Saab Sensis (to me, the smaller the better). In addition, the near term business outlook for Saab Sensor Systems seems to hold more promise.

I’ve been a lucky bastard throughout my entire work and social lives. I’m grateful for that, and I hope my lucky streak continues.

Lucky BD00

Categories: business Tags: , , ,

Exactly Two Years Hence

October 30, 2011 1 comment

Before going any further, make a note of today’s date. Now, if you want to follow the timeline of a sad story, then perform the following procedure while noting the date of each post:

1 Read this post: My Company

2 Then read this post: The End Of An Era

3 Then read this post: Heartbroken, But Hopeful

So, what does the future hold? Hell, I don’t freakin’ know. My friend Bill Livingston‘s line-dot-cone sketch says it all:

New UML Apparel!

If you don’t know yet (and you prolly don’t, since about two fellow, hapless people read this blog and one of them uses the word “fish” in his sign on name when he occasionally comments on a post), my company, the Sensis Corporation, has been purchased by SAAB AB of Sweden. Since the deal concerns the purchase of an American aerospace and defense company by a foreign enterprise, the deal has yet to be sanctioned by the U.S. government. However, in preparation for a successful closing, I’m contemplating proposing the following logo and SAAB-Sensis subsidiary apparel for sale.

The SAAB-Sensis logo, which is anchored on the UMLhas a” relationship, is intended to kill two birds with one stone. It’s intended to promote both SAAB and Sensis; and it promotes the UML standard for representing software-centric systems.  The scheme is sort of like the SNL product that’s both a desert topping and a floor wax. (If you think I’m nutz, then you’re in the majority.)

Of course, if the logo gets adopted, the idea goes viral, and the orders start pouring in, I’ll fully expect a hefty percentage of the sale from each item in the portfolio.

Heartbroken, But Hopeful

June 30, 2011 11 comments

Well, it’s done. The public announcement has been made. The aerospace and defense industry company that I’ve been privileged to work at for 22 years, Sensis Corp., has been sold to SAAB AB.

I’ve been extremely lucky to have participated in the birth and growth of a vibrant, successful, and sovereign company. In 1987, I was recruited away from behemoth GE Inc. by some great people to work at tiny Sensis Corp. I checked in as employee number 13. Before painfully contracting  to 500+ people through recent layoffs and a post-layoff loss of some incredibly key engineering talent, the company steadily grew over the years from a core of 7 people to over 800+.

The second law of thermodynamics dictates that nothing stays the same forever. Like all natural laws, it’s impersonal and it applies to all people, things, and enterprises. Thus, it’s time to move on and work on new projects/products with new people. I’m heartbroken, but hopeful for the future because…..

“When you’re through changing, you’re through.” – Bruce Barton

Relatively Lean

October 1, 2010 2 comments

As this not-too-out-of-date blog post details, “My Company“, I work for Sensis Inc. According to this unscientific, but interesting chart from (computed from it’s membership data) we’re leaner than our fatty competitors. Our R&D to G&A ratio seems to be quite higher than most other “similar” companies. Encouraging, no?

Categories: business Tags: , ,

The End Of An Era

August 1, 2010 1 comment

I’m sad, very sad, to report the end of an era at my company. Because of the ominous near term business outlook in our industry, we’ve had to lay off 84 friends and colleagues after 25 years of no-reduction-in-workforce existence. In my mind, not having to lay off anyone in 25 years of operation is truly a remarkable achievement. Even the best make mistakes and go through tough times.

I feel very fortunate that up until now (and I’ve been around for a looooong time) I’ve never had to go through the experience of watching my employer shrink right before my eyes. But ultimately, ya gotta make money to stay in b’ness.

Categories: business Tags: , ,

A $1.6M Mistake – And No One Was Fired

The other day, I discovered that a human mistake made on’s sister web site,, emptied the company’s coffers of $1.6 million dollars. Being the class act that he is, here’s what CEO Tony Hsieh had to say regarding the FUBAR:

To those of you asking if anybody was fired, the answer is no, nobody was fired – this was a learning experience for all of us. Even though our terms and conditions state that we do not need to fulfill orders that are placed due to pricing mistakes, and even though this mistake cost us over $1.6 million, we felt that the right thing to do for our customers was to eat the loss and fulfill all the orders that had been placed before we discovered the problem. – Tony Hsieh, CEO,

If this happened at your company, what would your management do? Do ya think they’d look at it as a learning experience?

Besides, here are the other companies that I love. What are yours, and is the company you work for one of them?

The Bad Person

At my company, unlike the legions of others who are afraid of what they might discover, we have a web-based portal that enables anyone to post questions to management. Fittingly, the answers to most of the questions get publicly posted along with the questions themselves from someone in the management group. Again, unlike the legions of companies littering the landscape who’s upper management layers don’t “get involved” with such trivia from the DICforce, my company’s questions are often answered by our CEO.

As you might surmise, some of the submitted questions could be judged as hurtful and hostile by many, if not the majority, of people in the organization. Nevertheless, everyone has a different threshold of “inappropriateness“, and as you might guess, mine is pretty high.


  • of my high personal inappropriateness threshold,
  • I like to continuously skirt the edge of inappropriateness to feel alive and perhaps influence other people’s thinking,
  • I think (but am not sure) that quite a few people have at least judged me to be perpetually disrespectful,

I often get asked “Did you submit this question?” regarding some potentially controversial submittals. The interesting thing is, I’ve only been asked that by fellow DICs, and never by anyone in the management group. Is that both cool and weird, or what?

Every time I get asked the “Did you submit this question?” question by a fellow DICster, a slight twinge of guilt courses through my being even though I didn’t ask the question and even though I have judged it “appropriate” according to my subjective inappropriateness threshold setting. I suspect that I experience the discomfort because I feel like the asker is searching for “the bad person” who would ask such a thing. When that happens, the following quotes pop into my head to help me move past the icky and uncomfortable feeling associated with dancing on the edge of the abyss:

“It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all.” – William James

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” – Baz Luhrmann

How about you? Are you always on the hunt for “bad people“? Do you like to skirt the edge of inappropriateness? Do you like to sit in the lazy boy, munch on popcorn, watch the show, and remain on the sideline?

SAS Still Rocks

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Everyone loves to be number one. According to Fortune mag, SAS is the Best Company to Work For in 2010. This rare gem of a company has been on my list of faves for many years and it amazingly continues to thrive in a rapidly moving industry that’s under constant pressure from competitors like Google, IBM, Microsoft, and open source software organizations.

SAS (pronounced sass) has been on Fortune’s list of Best Companies to Work For every one of the 13 years we’ve been keeping score. But this is the first time SAS is in the No. 1 slot.

CEO Jim Goodnight’s motives aren’t charitable but entirely utilitarian, even a bit Machiavellian. The average tenure at SAS is 10 years; 300 employees have worked 25 or more. Annual turnover was 2% in 2009, compared with the average in the software industry of about 22%. Women make up 45% of its U.S. workforce, which has an average age of 45.

Goodnight says the “wonder” isn’t that his company is so generous, but why other presumably rational corporations are not. Academicians confirm that his policies augment creativity, reduce distraction, and foster intense loyalty — even though SAS isn’t known for paying the highest salaries in its field and even though there are no stock options.

The notion of easy living frustrates those on the inside. “Some may think that because SAS is family-friendly and has great benefits that we don’t work hard,” says Bev Brown, who’s in external communications. “But people do work hard here, because they’re motivated to take care of a company that takes care of them.”

With a “billion dollars in the bank” and another big building going up on campus, Goodnight is continuing to invest. In a company of elite quantitative analysts, he devotes more than a fifth of revenue to R&D. For 33 straight years, SAS’s revenues have gone up — reaching $2.3 billion in 2009, nearly doubling in seven years.

The company that I work for, Sensis Inc., is pretty damn good to its employees too. Just because I’m on a diet doesn’t mean I can’t look at the menu.

My Company

October 30, 2009 10 comments

After reviewing most of the “made up” BS entries that I’ve hoisted on this blog, I’ve noticed (like you, no doubt) that just about every other post either starts out as, or progresses towards, a rant against standard Command and Control Hierarchical (CCH) corpocracies and horrendous managers who delude themselves into thinking they are “leaders”. It’s funny how all freakin’ roads lead to Rome, no?

To set the record straight, I honestly don’t think that all hierarchically structured organizations are soulless and spirit crushing CCHs. One of those companies happens to be the company that I work for; the Sensis Corporation.

Sensis Logo

I’ve been at Sensis for a long time, and despite what you may have concluded from reading this blog (all 2 of you), I really do like working there. For the most part, I’m given more freedom than most to do what I do best and the list of pluses far outnumbers the list of minuses. Besides matching the standard benefits package that most other companies give their workforce, here are some of the uncommon plusses:

  • A CEO that genuinely cares about the people who work for him
  • Subsidized in-house cafeteria
  • Subsidized in-house gym facility
  • No special executive parking spaces
  • Special, named parking places for individual handicapped people
  • Company-wide profit sharing when yearly sales & profit numbers are met
  • Occasional company-wide barbeques
  • Quarterly disclosure of the numbers to the troops
  • In-house happy hours for significant achievements
  • Free lunches at all-hands meetings
  • Vacation rollover
  • Free coffee
  • Summer Hours (Friday afternoons off)

The two biggest pluses for me are:

  1. No layoffs in the entire 24 year history of the company’s existence and a policy that explicitly states that “no layoffs” is a top goal.
  2. I haven’t been fired (whoo hoo!) despite multiple exhibitions over the years of truly disrespectful behavior toward a handful of targeted “others”.

The minuses of working at Sensis are typical of any company in our industry (military and aerospace); they’re just not practiced as badly as our bigger and more stodgy peers.

Categories: business, management Tags: ,
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