Depending on how much press we read, we can come across headlines that follow this pattern on a weakly basis:
XYZ has left his post after only x months due to differences of opinion on the strategy of the organization.
While we know that in most of the cases this is just a bullshit way of saying that people didn’t keep promises, didn’t get along, new interests emerged that and the new guy was in the way etc., sometimes this really is the reason why the new CEO leaves….and when this happens, it raises the following question:
How did the board decide exactly by this CEO?
Truth is in most cases the board doesn’t have a solid case for selection. Considering experiences, track records and chemistry is not enough; even ideas about strategy are not enough: how can the board decide if these ideas are good? Based on what?
The board MUST have a CONCEPT based on which a strategy maybe built before they start talking to candidates.
This concept should be discussed with the candidate who -if he’s good- can credibly add to it, modify it, etc. If the board hires the candidate, he’d present a strategy that complies with the concept and the board can approve it, or -if it’s a well functioning board- credibly add to it, modify it, etc.
Alternatively the candidate(s) must bring the concept which the board must approve!
In lack of this, the typical schema goes something like this:
“can you increase profitability by 20% in the next 3 years?” “yes!” “how?”
“I see chances of reducing operational costs by introducing the following best practices and to increase revenues by cross selling, better marketing, expanding into new markets, etc.”
The schema is basically kept on the level of cliches which means communications is meaningless, which in turn means nobody knows anything. Not the board, not the CEO, not the staff, not the shareholders and certainly not the management team which in cases like this starts jumping ship (starting with the best ones of course). The recent examples of this failure need no introduction: Yahoo, RIM, Nokia, HP.
Hiring like this is highly irresponsible!
Sure: in some industries it’s more difficult to come up with such a concept than in others. Being a 3rd tier supplier in automotive manufacturing SEEMINGLY leaves much less room for new/improved concepts that could serve as a base for strategy than in industries that cry out for new concepts, like technology or media for example.
The common denominator across ALL industries is that only a handful of players have a concept, the rest operates on cliches… like the forgettable headlines they produce.