This is what worries me about large companies. Microsoft used to be touted as the place to be. It doesn’t seem like that anymore – now Google might be the place to be. But they’re public now, and so they serve different masters. When the shareholders begin to run the company…
But then, I don’t want to believe that you can’t grow a company without turning it into a mess. Of course, you are going to have some politics, but with the proper leadership and focus people should be able to come together. Or, by drastically moving from the norm, as Richard Semler did with Semco (here’s Geoffrey Slinker’s paper on Semco).
In fact, the only large company I’ve read of so far that has been around for a long time and seems to have it right is 3M, a frequent example from books like Lean Software Development. Project champions, being able to understand the market, and ROI, and customers, and consistantly delivering on that.
Maybe 3M should start a consulting business. Maybe larger companies should pay attention to it.