Make the deal, restructure later
In the commercial departments, there existed great pressure to make a deal. Deal makers were the stars in this hunter-rather-than-gatherer culture. Their annual bonuses depended on the size of the deal booked.
Whether the deal was good in the long term was not the deal maker's concern. For, by that time, he would have moved to another department.
The company culture of rotating people from department to department ensured that they were always mentally challenged. It also allowed different people to work together and to cross-fertilise ideas generated in one area to another.
If a deal did go sour, it was possible to restructure it by calling in a group of analysts to model it. Then bring in lawyers to renegotiate. By magic, the deal was suddenly profitable again. And more people made money, that is, the people on the renegotiation team earned their annual bonus.
While it may seem strange that you could always "make good" a deal gone sour, the secret was that each time a new deal was made or restructured, it was good PR for the company.
The very lucky ones, those that worked long and hard on big deals, got rewarded in other ways too. The company flew the UK team to the Cayman Islands for a long weekend. This further signalled to analysts and dealmakers alike to go after the big deals.
7 December 2001 Friday