Point of Impact
Congratulations! Chris Galvin is stepping down from Motorola ("CEOs Who Should Lose Their Jobs," October)! I'd like to see Fast Company do a regular column on bad managers, naming names and describing deeds. And not just high-profile CEOs. There are a lot of managers who rode a wave, inflated a résumé, dazzled a board, then methodically screwed up. These people make fine case studies in what not to do and what they never learned. Moreover, you have many readers who witnessed these shenanigans. There is a need for the identification and tracking down of these criminally bad managers, and there is a bottomless supply of material.
President, Telephone Intelligence Inc.
Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania
We couldn't agree more. See our new column, "CEO See-Ya!" —The Editors
Disney CEO Michael Eisner has lost his mind. Pixar and Steve Jobs are the best thing to happen to Disney's animation branch since Jeffrey Katzenberg, and yet Eisner is bad-mouthing Jobs in the press. Miramax, which now seems to sweep the Academy Awards every year, is the best thing to ever happen to Disney's live-action films. Harvey Weinstein, like Jobs, clearly knows what he's doing, and he does it well. Eisner is now taking him to task for slight budget overruns on Oscar winner Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain. Hey, Michael! The first rule of smart management is to hire talented people, get out of the way, and let them do their job.
Greensboro, North Carolina
I have done business with a company whose profit is in the billions, with 1% of the profit divided by about 10 people as "year-end bonuses." And yet they see fit to squeeze their suppliers, threatening them with the loss of the business. When I met with the company's CEO, I was told that it doesn't really care about our contributions. It is their way or the highway. Due to the fact that large investment firms own a controlling share of the stock, the antics in the way the company operates—including moving American jobs offshore and the above-mentioned bonuses—are tolerated.
There are very few ethical large OEM companies who appreciate good suppliers. You should write an article on the life of small manufacturing companies. It is pretty gruesome.
Richard E. Kelch
Ashton Plastic Products Inc.
Peters Vs. Collins
I find Peters's opposition to Jim Collins's book Good to Great very interesting ("Still Angry After All These Years," October). It does seem that Peters's teaching runs counter to the Collins book. My sense is that while Collins's goal is to create great, enduring companies, Peters's is to teach individuals how to be "players." In this view, Peters and Collins don't so much conflict but rather are targeted to have an impact at different levels.
David Starr Eckholdt
Program manager, manager and leadership development
Mentor See, Mentor Do
I've found that the "when the student is ready, the mentor will appear" effect Warren Bennis mentions has come into play in my own life (Fast Talk, "The Mentors' Mentors," October). Rather than ongoing, long-term mentorships, I have had several mentorships, each one appearing to give me the insights or the boot in the butt I needed to take it to the next level. While I like Bennis's idea of stalking a mentor, I've never done that. My approach has been to consciously scan the horizon in order to recognize someone whose insights I really need. I also believe you've got to give as good as you get. Especially as we gain experience, it is important to consciously open ourselves up to be mentors for others, so the cycle can continue.
Want to break bad culture? Start at the top (The Corporate Shrink, October). The best practitioner of culture change in my lifetime has been Dr. Martin Luther King, who demonstrated the need for a strong and charismatic opinion leader to take charge. Of course, in lieu of an opinion leader, there are always mandates, but these are far less effective.Ê
Since Kerry Sulkowicz mentioned the old psychologist's joke about wanting to change, let me add a basic tenet of developmental psychology: readiness. Sure, it has to want to change, but a company won't change until it is ready—similar to a baby walking or talking. Any organization can change, but only after identifying barriers and untangling processes.
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A version of this article appeared in the December 2003 issue of Fast Company magazine.