I Am Sorry, But Your Company Is Too Big For Me To Talk To

It is funny work with companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies of all shapes and sizes, and learn all the weird practices they have, and the strange belief systems they’ve established. One day I will be talking to a 3 person startup, the next day I’ll be talking with a large bank, and after that I’ll be working with a group at a massive government agency. I have to be mindful of my time, make sure I’m meeting my mission, having an impact, as well as paying my bills, but for the most part I don’t have any entrenched rules about who I will talk to, or who I will share my knowledge with.

One thing I chuckle at regularly is when I come across large organizations who will gladly talk with me, and tap my knowledge, but won’t work with some of the startups I work with, or the conferences I produce, because they are “too small”. They can’t waste their time working with small startups because it won’t bring the scope of revenue they need to justify the relationships, but they’ll gladly talk to me and welcome the exposure and knowledge I might bring. Sometimes I feel like telling organizations, “sorry you are just to large to work with, you are almost guaranteed to fail at this whole API thing, why should I bother?” I think I’ll say it sometimes jokingly, but not really interested in truly being a dick at that level.

Most large organizations can’t figure out how to work with me in any long term anyway, because they are too bureaucratic and slow moving. Other large organizations have no problem figuring out how to get me past legal, and getting me paid, but some just can’t figure it out. I had one large enterprise group who follows my work, wanted to get me in really badly, but their on-boarding team needed proof that I was the API Evangelist going back every year since 2010, a letter from client, tax returns, or other proof that I was who I say I was–just so I could share my knowledge with them. Um, ok? You really are going to put up so many barriers to people coming into your organization and sharing knowledge? I’m guessing you aren’t going be very good at this whole API thing, with these types of barriers in the way.

I know I can’t change the way large organization behave, but know I can influence their behavior. I’ve done it before, and I’ll keep doing it. Especially when large organizations reach out to me, asking to help them in their journey. At 99% of them I will have no impact, but it is the other 1% that I’m hoping to influence in some way. I can also regularly point out how silly their organizations are, even if the people I’m working with are well aware of the state of things. I know it isn’t how ALL large organizations have to behave because I do a lot of business with large entities, who are able to get me through legal, and able to pay me without problems. Somewhere along the way, certain organizations have made the decision to be more bureaucratic and the trick is going to be how do you begin unwinding this–this is what the API journey is all about.