Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Fourth Worst CEO of 2012 is...

Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, is my number four pick for the worst CEO of 2012. Pincus saw an incredible exodus of top executive talent leave the company during 2012, driven out by a combination of imperial ways and unclear strategic direction. The year included bad acquisitions (already written down by 50%), a decrease in paying customers, and a total collapse in stock price. The maker of Farmville is in deep trouble, and CEO Pincus deserves full responsibility.

Check back tomorrow for the third worst CEO of 2012...

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Fifth Worst CEO of 2012 is...


Over the last dozen years, I have studied failure and leader's career ending mistakes and shared my list of the "worst" CEOs of the year.

For 2012, in the number five spot (or the "best" of the worst) is Rodrigo Rato, the former CEO of Spanish banking giant, Bankia. Formed via merger of seven failing banks, Rato's job was to right the ship. Instead, he touted the stock to hundreds of thousands of hapless small investors while overseeing what became a surprise 3 billion euro loss. He's now under investigation for fraud, and resigned in disgrace.

Check back tomorrow for the fourth worst CEO of 2012.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Worst CEOs of 2012: Dishonorable Mention

There were two prominent CEOs that did not have good years at all, but for different reasons, just missing out on making the list: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Andrew Mason of Groupon. These twenty-something Internet entrepreneurs saw their stock price collapse not long after going public, an embarrassing way to begin "grown up" life. Zuckerberg has created a dictatorship at FB, keeping control of the company firmly in his hands despite owning just a small percentage of the company via the joys of dual stock structure. Mason hasn't figured out how to make Groupon profitable. But there are enough hopeful signs to keep them firmly on the watch list for next year, including FB's strong recent moves to mobile and Groupon's unwillingness to accept the status quo.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where are they now? Update on the worst CEOs of 2011

Last year my list of worst CEOs included a college president who has been indicted, co-CEOs who have stepped out of the corner offices, and the man who executed one of the worst acquisitions since AOL Time Warner, among others. Let's take a look at what happened to these leaders who couldn't lead since landing on my list one year ago.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Policies and Techniques to Keep Your Company From Becoming a Zombie

My last blog post described those amazing creations I call “zombie companies.”  Today's blog focuses on how to destroy zombie company mentality. 

You can read my latest Forbes blog post here, and I've also included below some policies and techniques to keep your company from being labeled a "zombie."

Compensate for company pride
1.     Create internal advocates for strategies and technologies introduced by competitors and by other outside firms that are tackling analogous tasks.
2.     Give someone the job of monitoring competitor’s missteps and making sure that they’re avoided. 
3.     Use partnering to bring in new ideas and new practices.

Compensate for the company’s vision of excellence
1.     Make sure that the improvements the company most wants to provide are the ones the customers most want to have.
2.     Make each top executive personally responsible for dealing with important customers.

Compensate for the company’s positive attitude
1.     Reward employees who can find flaws or potential problems in the company’s procedures.
2.     Make heroes of the “Paul Reveres” who ride through the company warning that “the British are coming.” (As long as they’re not really “Chicken Littles” announcing that the sky is falling).

Compensate for company perfectionism
1.     Get senior managers to set the example when it comes to acknowledging and learning from failures.
2.     Use external benchmarks, especially for routine operations and centralized support services.
3.     Use devices such as “Mistake of the Month” to reward experiments that are unsuccessful when it comes to producing financial returns but highly successful when it comes to producing knowledge returns.

Compensate for team spirit
1.     Request minority reports and reports that aim at presenting the strongest contrasting position.
2.     Create cross-functional teams and diverse work groups whose members will see things differently.
3.     Seek critical evaluations from genuine outsiders.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to Spot a Zombie Company

Almost 10 years ago I wrote a book called, Why Smart Executives Fail.  After six years of investigation, my research team and I identified the underlying causes of failure in companies.  The book became a bestseller and was translated around the world. As the ten-year anniversary of publication of the book approaches, I will occasionally add a blog post about some of the ideas that have stood the test of time, and take a look at some modern-day examples.

Read the full Forbes post. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leadership Lessons from the Australian Open

Sitting in a cafĂ© in Melbourne, Australia is probably one of the best places to collect my observations after spending the last week in the sports capital of the world.  With apologies to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the Red Sox Nation, Aussies are crazy … about sports, among other things.