We Learn From the
Nortel Networks Meltdown
people were hurt by the astonishing implosion of Nortel Networks.
Losing 3/4 of its market capitalization in 12 months, a drop of almost
$ 300 billion, is horrendous. Yet John Roth said
even in January that the company would still see a 30% growth in revenues.
By mid February he cut this to a 15% growth and the roof fell in.
So what can we learn from this. The National Post said, "Roth
is now in the same boat with other CEOs who thought they were bigger
than the market and not subject to the principle of full, true and
a more fundamental principle may apply. This is: "It's lonely
at the top". Other phrases in the same vein are "As you
become CEO, you hear the truth for the last time." and "The
Emperor has no clothes." Particularly with a hard-driving aggressive
executive such as John Roth, which of his lieutenants wants to express
a counterview of what may really be happening. After all, John Roth
was named as Canadian Business Man of the Year by Time. So who has
the courage to be "disloyal" and get off the bandwagon.
phenomenon is magnified by another process which Edward De Bono, the
creativity expert, has labeled the Intelligence Trap.
Very bright people look at messy problems, cut through the complexity
and quickly figure out solutions. Unfortunately on rare occasions,
their solutions are wrong. What they do not realize is that their
subconscious is at work. Unknown to them, it is filtering out data
counter to their solution and highlighting data that supports their
solution. They are also very quick in defending their own solution
and do it well. Their less quick co-workers, who still have not figured
out how to cope, defer to them. So the bandwagon is created.
do the rest of us make sure we are not "lonely at the top"?
Perhaps we feel we have created conditions where anyone feels free
to express an opinion, a type of equality of ideas. "My door
is always open!" (but you have a door and I don't.) However hard
you work at it, it really is impossible to get straight talk on all
occasions. The relationships within the organization and the personal
goals and risk-taking sense of individuals get in the way.
the CEO may turn to outside help. A good external board or an external
advisory committee or the significant other may be the answer. However
the bounds of friendship and politeness may stifle potential conflict;
and they may not have all the facts. A good coach, who will tell you
it like it is, may be what works best for you. Of course you may have
to fire him or her if you don't like the message. But at least you
will have heard the unpalatable news once!
you would like wise, external advice, SMM will be happy to work with
you. Our help can be configured to meet exactly the needs you have.
Our strengths, experience, creativity and practical common sense can
complement those of your company. So write us a Fast
, on what you're looking for.