10 May 2007

Moto CEO Tantrums pay off

So Carl Icahn failed to get a seat on Motorola board. Few months back Icahn raised some valid and very real concerns as an important shareholder of the company, which any sensible corporate interested in adding value to its shareholder should keenly take on board (almost literally!) and address sincerely and with an open mind.

I just could not believe how Ed Zander reacted to Icahn’s concerns: he simply wrote a letter to all other shareholders, effectively shooting down Icahn and attacking his character. As Moto’s politically correct HR policies put it, Zander is expected to “lead by example”, so what a great lesson to teach your subordinates on how SMALL you can get: “don’t take responsibility of trouble you brought on yourself, …do your dirty politics and you’ll be fine”. Frankly speaking, the whole thing read like a scripted version of a street brawl….

Since the late 90s, Moto corporate culture has encouraged managers, directors and executives to get away with such behaviour. So much energy and effort of Moto managers is wasted into: dirty politics and plotting against other Moto managers, trying to dodge blame and never take responsibility of actions, finding scapegoats, cronyism, empire building, ego inflation….etc.

Frankly speaking, I sympathise with Icahn’s concerns. I can not remember the last time Motorola has actually came up with something genuinely new or different. The company in general encourages conformity, so the few bright and imaginative people don’t have the space or encouragement to be creative. Terms like “creative”, “on the ball”, “has the acumen” in Motorola’s lingo are bestowed on the arrogant who, by definition, talk a lot but are not good listeners (essentially experts in BS), and those who can put together slide packs from thin air.

Motorola can go back to its glorious days, it just needs a fresh corporate culture that values new ideas and encourages long term success, not short-term agendas.

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