Our product is a lower quality than the majority of other products in this area, and the owner isn't willing to go through the expense to upgrade our product.
At a previous job, our branch office's software had a huge profit margin (about 60%) and our main product had about 60% of the market (for that product). As a result, corporate decided that our cash cow was going to subsidize the entire division (no other branch had a profit margin over 10%, and several were losing money). This resulted in our branch having zero money nor time to make upgrades nor hire additional staff. Nor were we allowed to make any significant changes. The cash-cow milking was a directive which came down from the CEO and that sort of "penny wise and dollar foolish" was what got the CEO fired last year. I got tired and quit about 18 months ago and a recent chat with the boss, he had mentioned that the profit margin has dropped to about 30% and market share is down to about 40%. Many of the larger customers had been leaving for competitors products and the smallest customers had left to use a free website set up by the government.
I've compiled and delivered a collection of ways we could improve our results, but unfortunately my position and authority prohibit me from acting on them.
I did this at a previous job and was dinged badly on my performance review one year for doing so. I was able to make some small and minor changes in our development process but those drove my boss crazy. That boss is trying to get me to come back and save their bacon, and of the folks who quit in the past 2 years (the other guys who quit had been there 10 +/- 2 years), some will never come back, one is already back and the boss is balking at trying to match what I'm making now. The new CEO has made some changes in policies - and these new policies have the potential to make things turn around.
Simple things like a wiki (to keep track of developer knowledge) and setting up a build machine (to make builds repeatable) are well within the ability to do them as evenings and weekends projects and then present them as fait accompli. I had been there for 5 years and I was the short timer - everyone else had been there for 8-18 years. All of the business and domain knowledge was trapped in people's heads and there wasn't a way to store it to preserve it; when several key developers quit in the past 2 years , a huge amount of that knowledge was irretrievably lost.
There are some studies on the conflict between status-seeking bosses and employees who want to help improve things, one of which is Reversing the Extroverted Leadership Advantage: the Role of Employee Proactivity. From the study:
Researchers have frequently observed that employees’ proactive behaviors can be threatening to leaders, as they have the potential to introduce unwelcome changes
We thus propose that when employees are proactive, more extraverted leaders will respond less receptively to ideas and suggestions. In turn, perceiving a lack of leader receptiveness will discourage employees from working hard on behalf of their leaders.
One of the things the researchers were mentioning was that to extroverted leaders, employees who came up with lots of ideas were seen as threatening the leader's dominance. This leads to a conflict in both status and power.
We thus predict that the combination of extraverted leadership and employee proactivity has the potential to create a power struggle, as both leaders and employees seek to gain control and exercise influence. To do so, extraverted leaders may dismiss employees’ proactive behaviors or work harder to increase their own control and influence, focusing on claiming status and asserting their authority instead of facilitating effective group performance. Indeed, research suggests that seeking dominance and power is likely to discourage leaders from considering employees’ perspectives (Galinsky, Magee, Inesi, & Gruenfeld, 2006). Employees, in turn, are likely to feel rejected and slighted by leaders’ lack of consideration for their ideas (McFarlin & Sweeney, 1996), leading them to experience helplessness and powerlessness (Magee & Galinsky, 2008).
I'm going out on a limb and suggest that what is an effective management style for low-creativity professions (such as call centers or fast food franchises) is a counterproductive one in high-creativity professions (such as software development). The authors of the linked study seem to agree:
When does extraverted leadership contribute to higher group performance? In both a field and a laboratory study, we found that when employees were not proactive, extraverted leadership was associated with higher group performance. However, when employees were proactive, this pattern reversed, so that extraverted leadership was associated with lower group performance.