Complaining about Status Quo Vs. Grumbling about ET Group Doing Something Unique

Which is it? I can’t figure out why we’re always worried about changing, but it’s also curious to me that when someone tries something different, competitors pile on.

Leave a Comment
Complaining about Status Quo Vs. Grumbling about ET Group Doing Something Unique

If you’ve read about the unique approach to business ET Group has taken for the past couple of years, chances are you’ve wondered—and possibly asked someone else—why it would do things that way.

Why would CEO Dirk Propfe transform his company to allow any employee to make decisions for the company, no matter how big or small they are?

Why would ET Group allow employees to name their own salaries after a year with the company?

And why would they allow employees to essentially job-hop within the company structure, a move they call “energizing roles?”

We also took a closer look at some of the recent worst examples of retail stores that maybe should have hired another AV integrator—if they hired one in the first place—to help them add new technology to their stores in an age where customers need to be captivated rather than turned away by failing tech.

We even let our resident Millennial web editor take a stab at rewriting some of our headlines in the style made popular by Buzzfeed in an attempt to show you how things could look on CI in an alternate universe.

All of this has me thinking we spend a lot of time worrying about how things could be—or should be, depending on who you ask—and not nearly enough time focusing on how great certain things are right now.

Dirk Propfe talking about how all ET Group employees are enabled to make all company decisions:

Everyone Can’t Be ET Group

I don’t know if I’m the only one who found it shocking to see one of our survey respondents said this era of abundant success in the pro AV space and business overall is the thing that scares him most when he takes a 30,000-foot view at his business and industry.

The justification certainly makes sense, since many business owners didn’t realize the Great Recession of 2007 and 2008 was coming because they were spending so much time thinking about and enjoying all the money they were making leading up to the Lehman Brothers collapse and the ensuing financial strife.

It’s good to know many of them learned lessons and are now thinking about an inevitable U-turn in business fortune that will clearly come at some point (and some predict it’ll be sooner than we all think), but it’s hard to believe that’s something that’s at the top of anyone’s mind today.

I also wonder why I’ve heard from some readers in regard to ET Group’s policies and overall approach and asking me why we’d want to highlight what they’re doing. The thought is Propfe is doing something no one else in pro AV is doing, so what makes him think he can pull it off?

NSCA liked Propfe’s self-management company overhaul enough to give ET Group an Excellence in Business award earlier this year.

Maybe that line of thinking is right, but it seems short-sighted and closed-minded in an industry that prides itself on innovative thinking. Certainly, there are still plenty of examples of companies and projects that go well beyond anything we’ve ever seen, so why can’t ET Group be viewed that way?

After all, NSCA liked Propfe’s self-management company overhaul enough to give ET Group an Excellence in Business award earlier this year. And ET Group secretary/treasurer Brad Flowers said he’s talked to others within the industry who are considering adopting a similar approach in their companies.

What it all ultimately comes down to is doing whatever your customers want you to do, because if you don’t, they’ll find someone else who will. Whether that means adding a new wrinkle or sticking with your formula, that’s what you need to figure out.

ET Group leaders on a “necessary evolution” for companies:

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our digital newsletters!

About the Author


Craig MacCormack is the former executive editor of Commercial Integrator (2011-2021). He's a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience covering local and national news and sports as well as architecture and engineering before joining Commercial Integrator.

Commercial Integrator Magazine

Read More Articles Like This… With A FREE Subscription

Commercial Integrator is dedicated to addressing the technological and business needs of professional integrators who serve the small and midsize business market. Whether you design, sell, service, or install… work on offices, churches, hospitals, schools or restaurants, Commercial Integrator is the dedicated resource you need.


  • Propfe’s style seems female to me. It would be interesting if he was a female, what reaction would people have had?
    I di see now, how the attitudes and conventions created by men, mostly white men in industry is self serving, yet short sighted. Some of the concepts for the workplace to be more supportive of ALL people I though of in 1999 but no one was open to that. Now I hear these concepts are getting embraced due to burnout of employees from 20 years ago who did 60-70 hour weeks. I guess it takes some people a grueling life- personally, for years, to eventually make changes for others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *