December 19, 2011
"All three [CEOs] committed several cardinal sins: Putting customers last. Rewarding loyalty with rudeness. Failing to make their cases to the public. All of them wound up looking terrible. All of them increased the sense of disconnection between big companies and the millions who buy their products."

— In The Year of CEO Failures Explained, NYT tech writer, David Pogue gives his take on why the leaders of companies including Hewlett-Packard, Netflix and the Flip camera messed up. It boils down to their failure to remember why they’re in business in the first place (to serve customers). And, as Pogue points out, this omission backfired, at least in two out of those three cases (Cisco CEO John Chambers still has his job, and the Flip is still dead.) I was also taken by Pogue’s surprised analysis of the state of MBA students that our business schools are producing, many of whom have the same attitude and approach as these stumblers. “Maybe all of those M.B.A.’s pouring into the workplace know something we don’t. Maybe there’s actually a shrewd master plan that the common folk can’t even fathom,” he muses. “But maybe, too, there’s a solid business case to be made for factoring public reaction and the customer’s interest into big business decisions.” Now, wouldn’t that be something.

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