Oct 13, 2011

How does your CEO react when there is an outage or other problem?


I am impressed with the earnest speech RIM's head gave yesterday. RIM founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis did right by his customer base at a time when the company is struggling with a massive 3-day global outage and whose stock has dropped from $70 to $25/share over the past year.



Often CEOs will gloss over problems or parse words, apparently afraid or unwilling to apologize for their bad decisions. A recent example is Reed Hastings from Netflix, making poor business decisions which disappointed and angered their customer base. After several weeks of losing customers and watching the stock tumble, he finally had to reverse course on his plans for Qwikster.



It may be too late for RIM to reverse the number of customers fleeing for Apple or Android solutions, but it was good for him to admit that they had messed up. Do you have any stories of CEO's or CIO's apologies, and whether or not it helped the company over the long run?


Unfortunately, no. I wish I had some wonderful story of CEO courage to share with you but my experience with them hasn't been very positive. It seems like many of them lack a certain kind of courage and/or vision. Thankfully, there are some who have it and who can lead their companies well even in difficult times.

The late Steve Jobs is somebody that took a company on the edge and turned it into a huge success. Apple was almost in bankruptcy when he came back and now sits on 85 billion dollars in cash, with extremely profitable products in various markets.

So it certainly can be done, but it all depends on the company and the CEO.

I'm lucky not to have see too many outages of our website. Naturally the CEO was not happy but since the issue was with AT&T and not our actual servers, our IT department kind of got a free pass on this one. Of course, at the next strategy meeting we brought forth a proposal to start an initiative for line balancing and availability improvements, which was readily approved.

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