Tuesday, October 18, 2005

NAACM – Sydney Finklestein - Why Smart Execs Fail

Sydney is a distinguished professor from Dartmoth and has written a book about why executives fail. I was interested to see the science behind this premise and was not disappointed! See more at www.whysmartexecutivesfail.com

Sydney led two sessions, and kicked it off quickly by talking about how execs “choose no to cope” with changes. The Boston Red Sox waited until 1959 for their first black ball player – Jackie Robinson entered the league in 1947! Sydney’s point was that Red Sox organization KNEW what was happening, yet chose not to deal with it.

The 4 keys that Sydney spoke about were:

  1. Executive mindset failures (you got the strategy wrong!)
  2. Delusions of a dream company
  3. Organizational breakdowns
  4. Leadership pathologies

The case study about Motorola tied this together beautifully:

Motorola went from 60% market share to less than 20% in 11 or so years because they didn’t move when the market told them to go digital.

  1. Arrogance
  2. Warring tribes
  3. Compensation system that didn’t reward innovation
  4. Leadership boxed into position

The second part of Sydney’s sessions had some great nuggets as well:

    • Create a mistake of the month club to discuss what you’ve learned and that no on is perfect – great idea!
    • Make a rule that emails can only be TO one person – and they have accountability.

Finally, here are the 7 habits of spectacularly unsuccessful people (pick out which ones apply to you!)

  1. Illusion of personal preeminence – Martha Stewart – as unhumble as possible
  2. The company is MINE – Koslowski
  3. All the answers – Wang Labs
  4. My way or the highway – this is the #1 signal for failure
  5. Obsessed with image – Carly Fiorina
  6. Disregard for major obstacles – Iridium
  7. Inability to learn – Schwinn

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