I work in a medium sized corporate environment (250+ employees). I manage design for clients in kind of a niche industry. I also manage designers that design for product development and product launches/promotions. I also do a lot of the PD work myself and the occasional client project.
We have full product development within our company, so, Design (ID, GD, CC, ED), Marketing, and Engineering (ME). Engineering rules the decision making process, it is like nothing that I have ever seen. Marketing and Design will toil for months on a product plan and then Engineering comes in and picks it apart not by telling us that our proposal isn't feasible, but THAT IT WON'T SELL! They actually sit in front of us and question why a customer would want what we are proposing....even though we've done the market research and concepting for weeks or months, not to mention the fact that I actually work face to face with customers on an almost daily basis. To be fair, engineering is involved in the concept phase, but only as an adviser and to provide pricing to help Marketing with their plan, but they never stick to their role, they always whine during the process about how the customer wants this or why would a customer want that? That's not their job.
We have two Senior Design Engineers, one is good, thorough, thoughtful, and "gets it". The other guy....no degree, came up through the organization from production and was buddy buddy with the owner's nephew. He is passive aggressive, unprofessional, manipulative, and stubborn. Everyone in Marketing and Design have nothing but contempt for this guy. The president of the company is at about wits end with all of the complaints that he has received about him over the years. We'll spend lots of hours on plans and concepts and he won't take any action on them if they aren't his ideas and he'll go off and talk with his boss (the other problem) and just do whatever he likes. It is so obvious to everyone that he behaves this way because he can get away with it because the owner and his nephew have his back. In reality, this guy is inhibiting progress in a HUGE way. He comes in, works tucked away in one corner of the building, never engages in anything, and "designs" in a vacuum. His title is Senior Design Engineer; he couldn't go to any other company in the US and get this title, and he knows it. He constantly complains about job security and how he "needs something to do". A colleague told me that he tried to go work somewhere else and his interview was a running gag in their company. All he does is maintain his relationship with the owner and his nephew and treats everyone else as if they're complete idiots because they went off and got degrees that he sees as "meaningless". Constantly brags about his extensive experience...never worked as an engineer anywhere else.
His boss supports him and this behavior and has his back 100%. His boss also suffers from a lack of vision and some kind of self-delusion that it doesn't matter what market research says, how it will be sold, who will sell it, what tools should be developed to design with it, just: engineers are the masters of the universe and our products should sell themselves (and oh, let marketing be accountable for how well it sells). He also garners favor with the ownership in private and regularly informs them that Marketing and Design are being "difficult". I wear that like a badge of honor, our industry is going to change rapidly in the next 5-10 years and these guys do not have the vision or the chops to keep us in the game, all they care about is keeping their jobs and being way over-paid.
Short of quitting, has anyone else here dealt with anything like this or been able to influence a culture shift to get people like this put in their place? I'm willing to try change/fix this, is it possible? We have lost lots of young talent in our organization because of the way that these two individuals have treated them.