Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Fish Rots From The Head

One of the pieces of advice that I've made in a number of consulting roles is the Danish proverb "The Fish Rots From The Head".

It's one of the truisms that I was told a long time ago by someone far wiser than myself and I'm continually still surprised to see it rings true each and every time.

Al Dunlap was a great example of how a single CEO can walk into a business and instantly change the dynamics (for good or for bad is the subject of another post).

Ok so lets just stick with Jack Welch for this post, every time GE bought a new company the acquired entity would change each and every time. It was the same people still checking into the same desks, for the very same jobs as last week, but something ethereal was always different.

A well known VC once told me that the reason the true "change merchants" (IPO flippers depending on where you sit) were so good at their jobs (and so dammed bankable) was that they had done the same process over and over again, and once you have done it 4 or 5 times it's almost irrelevant what the product is, they walk in, they evaluate, they process, the change occurs, the momentum builds, they partner, they seal the deal and then they do it all over again.

Which brings me to today's post.

Have you ever walked into a company and just felt...something is wrong, there's nothing obvious in the staff or the processes, little things you would change here or there but just minor issues.

Sit and look at the "Head" - the answers you need will always be there.

How the person handles day to day events will tell you how successful this company will be. You want to see the perfect example (apologies to the non-aussies reading this blog).

Eddie Mcguire. WTF happened!!!!

Here is a guy who has practically crashed sideways one of the most level, steady earning media properties in Australia.

Apart from a few rash decisions he hasn't made any decisions that were terrible but the day to day running (and quickly escaping rumors) are just getting insane.

KP must be spinning in his very large grave. He sat at the number one desk for years and apart from a few choice phone calls to dress down someone who caught his ire he left the very smart and very capable people to do their thing.

There is no way he would have put up with this , it's just not his style.

His omnipresence reached far and wide, it was smooth sailing all the way because that's the way he liked it, and being the head that's the way it was.

Now admittedly KP's control was far and above most other heads (but he had more divisions/businesses to manage than most heads), and maybe from such a strong controlling force it's just a natural 'rebound' for things to go awry before it will settle back into equilibrium but the markets have a short attention span I think it's the beginning of the end.

So what have we learnt here apart from it's now possible to do some neat IPTV projects in Australia that would have been quashed a few years ago with a quiet word or two that you never saw coming.

1/ Want to know about a company to invest in/work for - watch the head.
2/ All things come to an end - (good, smell the roses while you can - bad, plan for the worst).
3/ Think you've got what it takes? - then lead from example because you are always someones head.


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