Friday, April 27, 2007

CEO = Scapegoat?

I came across this article talking about “Signs that a Board should consider changing the CEO”. Of course I had to read it, but by the end I was more than mildly ticked off. What about “Signs your VCs are a bunch of arrogant ___s who know damn well the business is worthless but still hired some poor sucker to run it anyway?” Or, “Signs the VCs wouldn’t listen to an honest appraisal of the real opportunity - or lack thereof - if was beamed at them through the Rolling Stones’ PA system from 6 feet away?”

Sure, some CEOs – irrespective of background, founders or not - screw up, no doubt about it. All well and good, but what about the responsibility of the Board and the VCs to engage constructively in this process? How about the fact that a) they either hired the wrong guy in to manage it in the first place or b) left the founder and/or the management alone to run things into the ground to such a degree that the nuclear option is the only one remaining?

I’m fortunate: my present investors are realistic, supportive and always willing & eager to help out, but I’ve had other, less positive, experiences in the past. As a “hired gun” CEO, though, the reality around taking on a new company is that it’s a lot like marriage: based on a very short courtship, you find the bride attractive and want to get hitched. BUT, don’t forget to spend time with her parents too because - surprise, surprise - they come included in the package, like it or not. It’s also worth remembering that they are footing the bill, paying for your house and likely to be loaning you cash in the future, so unless you can get on with them as well as you can your prospective spouse, think twice, and then run for the exit before the vicar gets into his stride!

No comments: