San Diego Soliloquies

Monday, May 03, 2004

CEO - Chief Excuse Officer

Apparently Kevin Drum worked at one or more of the failed startups I worked at. He has bad senior mangers nailed:

    ...the world is full to bursting with CEOs who have goals they would dearly love to attain but who lack either the skill or the fortitude to make them happen. They assign tasks to subordinates without making sure the subordinates are capable of doing them — but then consider the job done anyway because they've "delegated" it. They insist they want a realistic plan, but they're unwilling to do the hard work of creating one — all those market research reports are just a bunch of ivory tower nonsense anyway. They work hard — but only on subjects in their comfort zone. If they like dealing with people they can't bring themselves to read all those tedious analyst's reports, and if they like numbers they can't bring themselves to spend time chattering with distributors about their latest prospect.

In every company I've worked for that's failed (four so far), the CEO has done two very bad things: 1) Brought in cronies to fill key positions, 2) Failed to acknoiwledge and act on important (and usually bad) changes in the marketplace. Or as Kevin puts it:

    And most important of all, weak CEOs are unwilling to recognize bad news and perform unpleasant tasks to fix it — tasks like like confronting poorly performing subordinates or firing people. Good CEOs suck in their guts and do it anyway.

And, of course, this is ultimately how our first "CEO President", the "First President with an MBA" (How exactly did that help him at Harken Energy?):

    George Bush is, fundamentally, a mediocre CEO, the kind of insulated leader who's convinced that his instincts are all he needs. Unfortunately, like many failed CEOs before him, he's about to learn that being sure you're right isn't the same thing as actually being right.


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