Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

Is it ever a good time to go back?

Growing up in England in the 70’s and 80’s with a passion for football that engulfed my life, Kenny Dalglish was a superstar.  My statement is not born out of blind hero-worship (since the age of five I have been an Arsenal fan).  Dalglish was the star player and then Manager of a Liverpool team that swept everything before them to become the most successful team in English Football history (cue complaints from Manchester United Fans.  Sorry, statistically this is true).

This weekend Dalglish was re – appointed Manager of Liverpool Football Club, having resigned 20 years ago.  It is a great move from a PR perspective by the employer.  To draw business parallels, Dalglish is the Shareholders choice, the person on whom the hopes of resurrecting former glories rests.  The club is in disarray, they have not been champions of the top division in England for 20 years.  Much has changed in that time.

The Premier League is a global product, full of hugely talented players ( and some less so ) from all four corners of the globe.  In 1991 when Dalglish resigned, players in the top league came from all four corners of the British Isles.  Dalglish has held a couple of Manager roles since, but with nowhere near the same degree of success that he enjoyed with Liverpool.  Is he at risk of destroying the legend?

Should you ever look back to a former employee to return a company to former glories?

It’s a brave move by Dalglish.  The hero-worship he enjoys amongst Liverpool fans will protect him from  inflicting any long-term damage on the Dalglish legend.  It will certainly buy him and the owners of the club time.  Time that perhaps a Manager without the same history and status within in the club would not enjoy.    He has a massive job to do, not least on employee engagement.  The team look disillusioned, disenfranchised, disjointed.

Time is against him.  He has only been appointed until the end of the season.  The opportunity to create even a 12 month plan is not available to him.  He must create a short-term vision, communicate that vision, ensure all are behind that vision.  Those that don’t buy in, he must move on.  He has major recruitment issues to address as the club has arguably only 3 players that are talented enough to meet the vision the majority of stakeholders (the fans) have for the club, but he has little time to do it.  Can he attract the right talent with only a short-term objective to communicate?

The appointment has certainly lifted morale.  There are examples in business when a superstar CEO returns to transform a business.  Think Steve Jobs at Apple. Business and Sport are short-term results games.  In business it’s all about this month, this quarter, this half-year, this annual return to shareholders.  Sport is even more short-term, it’s all about the next game.  In both cases, you are only ever as good as your last result and stakeholders can have short memories.

For success you need a long-term outlook, a clear long-term vision,  to be given the time to build that vision.  The short-term nature of much of sport and business means little time is devoted to succession planning, to developing the leadership stars of the future.  As a result success is only ever short-term.

The success that Liverpool enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s was built entirely on constant planning not only for today but for the future.  Dalglish was one of a long line that read Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish.

He was the last in the line.  He didn’t build for the future, didn’t plan for his successor and Liverpool has suffered ever since.  Will he do it this time?  Can he build a platform for the future on which the club can enjoy sustained success?  Only time will tell.

It is a short-term move that reeks of desperation, of lack of a vision and long-term plan by the board.  They have put a tourniquet on a gaping wound and stemmed the flow of blood, for now.  Unless the club gets major surgery fast, the legend that is Dalglish will be tarnished.  Is he the man to deliver it?

Employers and Shareholders need to be patient.  Hire slow, fire fast.  Keep moving forward.  Look back to learn the lessons from history.  Build for the future from the lessons of the past.    Steve Jobs is a rare example.  Don’t go back, go forward.  In the meantime good luck Kenny, you are going to need it.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Recruitment

Who’s your number 2, Steve Jobs?

I love a gadget.  Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, Itunes, AppleTV, Mac, Macbook, they all feature somewhere , in someway, in my life.  I love what they do and I love how they do it.  Clearly so do many others.

Just look at yesterdays Q4 results.  3.89 million Macs, 14.1 million iPhones, 9.05 million iPods, and 4.19 million iPads sold in one quarter.  They are killing the competition, selling 2 million more iPhones last quarter than RIM sold BlackBerry devices.

The numbers are compelling.  In one quarter, $20.34 billion in revenue and $4.31 billion in profit.  The success juggernaut that is Apple enjoyed a share price one year ago around $190 a share.  Today Apple shares closed at $317.93 (an all time high) giving a market cap approaching $300BN.

What possibly can go wrong?

I can see only one problem coming over the hill for Apple and its a monster.  Who is your number two, Steve Jobs?

I am sure he has one.  I am sure in fact that he has several superstars that he has identified within Apple and indeed outside who he feels have the talent to fill his shoes.  I am sure he invests much of his time mentoring, teaching, engaging, developing his key players of the future.

He has history to learn from.  The last time Apple rid themselves of Jobs incredible talents, it was a disaster for the company.  I am sure he won’t allow that to happen again.  Will he?

Succession planning is crucial to long-term, sustainable success.  Jobs casts an imposing and vast shadow.  Whoever fills his shoes will be faced with a thankless task.  However, fill them he or she must if Apple is to continue to look after the best interests of its stakeholders.

It is the responsibility of leadership to ensure succession planning is an integral part of business strategy.  Long term, sustainable success requires a commitment to developing the leaders of tomorrow today.   Succession planning is essential at all levels within business.

Who is your number 2?

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Filed under Corporate Governance, Leadership

Life is just not fair…….

A new report is out this week from The Equality and Human Rights Commission evidencing much that is unequal in society today, not least the gap in pay between men and women that still prevails in 2010.  A nonsense, clearly something should be done to address this.  Indeed there is much we could all do to try to ensure greater balance in terms of how people are treated.   However, for me the reaction of the Chairman of the Commission was the most frightening element of the report.  According to Trevor Phillips “there was a risk of society being divided by inequality”.

No kidding Trevor!  You needed a report to confirm this?

Inequality exists everywhere.  It is part of nature.  Some are physically strong, some are weak, some are fast, some are slow, some are incredibly intelligent, some less so.  We are all born with some advantages and some disadvantages, some more than others.  Some are physical, some are circumstantial, some are based on history, some on geography.  The list goes on.

So what do we do?  Sit around and envy the advantages of others, or seek to understand our own advantages and how we can make the best of what we are blessed with?

I am not suggesting inequality is a good thing.  Frankly it sucks.  However it exists and has done since the dawn of time.  There is a reason why the Lion is the King of the Jungle.  Yet he still co – exists with all the other animals.  To suggest in 2010 that society is at risk of being divided because of inequality is a nonsense.   Society has always been divided.  Can we do anything about it?

The truth is life is a survival of the fittest (and not necessarily the fittest physically).  We can’t all be Prime Minister, Brain Surgeons, England Centre Forward, Village Elder, King, Queen, Pope, Imam, Chairman, Carer, Nurse, Teacher.  We can’t all discover the cure for cancer, discover electricity, be Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.  We can’t all be Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi.

Sure life is not always fair.  Sure life deals some a far worse hand than others.  Life is all about making the very most of the cards that you have been dealt.  We can all think of people who have been dealt a dreadful hand and achieved incredible things.  We can also all think of someone who would appear to have had every advantage in life and screwed up.

Highlighting how unequal life can be, how “unfair” it can appear helps no – one, offers no solution, guidance, motivation.  Help people to see opportunities, not problems.  Help people to overcome challenges, don’t just tell them they exist.  We all have a place of equal value, we all have a contribution to make of equal importance.  The sooner we help people to understand that we all have a role to play the sooner we will have true equality.

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Filed under Opportunity