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"The Apprentice" Considered Harmful


The Apprentice is about selecting an individual Hero instead of a well-gelled, effective team.  Fifty years ago, Peter Drucker said that any effective team needs a sales person, a thinking person, and a man of action.  sometimes you can find someone who can do two of those roles, but never three.  (And who wants to hire a schizophrenic, anyway?)

Troy *could* be a great CEO if he had a COO to counter-balance him, and vice-versa with Kwame.  They both had strengths and weaknesses that played well off each other.  A great team has a "Whole is greater than the sum of it's parts" thing going on.

Sadly, that doesn't make the best drama, and the mass market gets yet another story of heroics.  Trump wants "the best" instead of realizing that a batman without an effective robin is a risk at best, a detriment at worst.

Thoughts?

Matt H.
Friday, April 02, 2004


Check out the book "Good to Great". This was a study of companies that consistently beat the market by at least 3 times over a 15 year period. The study wanted to find out what made a "great" company.

There's a section in there on leaders. The basic message was: if you know the name of a companies CEO, then that company is likely heading for trouble.

The "great" companies all had unknown, low key, leaders with a very strong sense of team. Companies in which there was a clear "I am the boss", type A leader often had successes but also very often came crashing down when that leader left. This wasn't necessarily because the leader was any good (though that might be the case), but because the ego driven leader often had an interest in seeing successors fail.

Of course, this doesn't apply everywhere. The study simply found that most great companies have a cohesive team that tended to survive leadership changes.

An interesting case study will be to watch what happens to Oracle whenever Ellison steps down.

anon
Friday, April 02, 2004

So when you use the ambiguious third person "Considered" you mean by you? Or are you posing the question "by this community?"

Shameless self promotion: I wrote about the harmful effects of reality TV in general on my website:

http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/TelevisionasParent.html

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, April 02, 2004

"There's a section in there on leaders. The basic message was: if you know the name of a companies CEO, then that company is likely heading for trouble."

Good lord, that sounds absolutely backwards.
Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca, Sam Walton, Walt Disney...

A corporation succeeds when it has a strong will with a vision at the helm. When there is a faceless miasma of
"human capital" at the top, there is rarely a clear corporate vision, and the company tends to generally drift in the direction of adequacy or below.

"He who will not risk cannot win" - committees generally don't take risks; they take safe courses. Therein lies mediocrity or disaster.

Philo

Philo
Friday, April 02, 2004

Playing devil's advocate to Philo, it's possible that you can come up with these examples simply because they are the exceptions to the rule. Are you really telling me you can go down the Fortune 500 or even Fortune 50 list and name the CEO's of a majority of the ocmpanies?

Back to the original poster, Trump himself is a brand name. He's going to be on Saturday Night Live and the joke is he's renaming the show Trump Night Live. Donny Deutch, the guy who runs the ad firm from the 2nd or 3rd episode hosts a show on CNBC. Carolyn is becoming a celebrity form the show.

So whether or not it's "Considered Harmful" it doesn't seem to be the way Trump operates.

But, while one person gets fired every week, an entire team wins every week as well, so I really don't see what you're talking about. "If we fail we need a scapegoat, if we succeed it's as a team." Perhaps it's the scapegoat mentaity you should really be criticizing.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, April 02, 2004

I think the *exceptions* Philo mentioned prove the rule:

What happens to those companies after the enigmatic leader is gone?

*Good to Great* is premised on *Lasting* companies.  Not the 10 year stretch where a charismatic leader can make an impact.

 
Friday, April 02, 2004

["There's a section in there on leaders. The basic message was: if you know the name of a companies CEO, then that company is likely heading for trouble."

Good lord, that sounds absolutely backwards.
Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca, Sam Walton, Walt Disney...

A corporation succeeds when it has a strong will with a vision at the helm. When there is a faceless miasma of
"human capital" at the top, there is rarely a clear corporate vision, and the company tends to generally drift in the direction of adequacy or below.

"He who will not risk cannot win" - committees generally don't take risks; they take safe courses. Therein lies mediocrity or disaster.]

Oh come on, stop being silly. A team is not a committee.

Sure, an ego-driven leader takes risks. But are they prudent, well considered risks in pursuit of a commonly understood goal, or are they seat of the pants, "because my gut tells me so" risks? One's as likely as the other, from what I've observed.

For every name you've dropped, a little research could likely produce 10 names who lead their companies to disaster.  Hell, Lee Iacoca is used in the book as an example of the ego driven leader. Look what happened to Chrysler after he left. That didn't happen because he left, it happened because of the way he lead when he was there.

The mark of the great leader is not what they do when they are in control, but the legacy they leave behind.

anon
Friday, April 02, 2004

All of those mentioned I believe are the companies founders who took/assumed the role as ceo. If you look at pure elected by the board ceos, how many of those fit into this line of thought.

hjm
Friday, April 02, 2004

People love the stories of Iacocca and such who took big risks and succeeded. IMHO that stuff is anecdotal. Nobody hears about the other 90% who did so and failed. Notoriety is probably an irrelevant factor in assessing CEO performance...

sgf
Friday, April 02, 2004

[anon, you really have to find a better quoting style.]

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, April 02, 2004


Noted. Got any suggestions?

anon
Friday, April 02, 2004

Philo made one post, why not just state in the first sentance you're referring to Philo's post? I just read it anyway...

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, April 02, 2004

> Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca, Sam Walton, Walt Disney...

Are any of those "great" companies? They aren't ones I would want to work for.


Friday, April 02, 2004

Well, they were all successes for their owners, even if that success might have been to the detriment of their employees and society at large.

NoName
Friday, April 02, 2004

> Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca, Sam Walton, Walt Disney...
-----
> even if that success might have been to the detriment of their employees and society at large.
-----

Okay, that sounds like crazy talk to me.  How in the world has Walt Disney been a detriment to society at large?  I'm sure all the kids in the world that have enjoyed Disney animation would be better served without.  As far as a detriment to their employees go, Walt Disney was a huge supplier or jobs in its peak.  Sure maybe they didn't go off and earn millions like Walt did, but I'm sure they were bettered.  The same can be said for Henry Ford.  And how is Amazon a detriment to society?  They are also providing jobs in the very dismal employment market that is Seattle.  Even Microsoft -- maybe you can make a case for the detriment of society (although I don't agree, I'm not going to argue that), but to the detriment of employees?  How are their employees jaded by the comapny?  Everyone that I've ever known that works there has loved it.  Those that have left the company have done so in complete career changes.  In short, I think you're talking crazy!

All work and no play makes NoName go something something. . .

Elephant
Friday, April 02, 2004

Ford is the man who put America on wheels!

Before him, most people couldn't afford a car!

After him, most people COULD afford a car.

He was a great benefactor of society.

Jay
Friday, April 02, 2004


Great, in this context, doesn't mean they made some significant contribution to society, their employees, or anyone else. In the study, great means successful in financial terms.

Here's a blurb from the book:

"The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck."

Who were some of these companies? Fannie Mae, Walgreens, Gillette, Wells Fargo...

anon
Friday, April 02, 2004

You mean that the fact that now there are hundreds of millions of these stink spewing machines destroying our health and environment, and even worse, that "mobility" has assasinated the very fabric of our society, a benefit?

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 02, 2004

Yes! Can you live without a car? You can, but it's much harder.

Jay
Friday, April 02, 2004

"""Can you live without a car"""

Spoken like somebody that's never lived in a big city.

 
Friday, April 02, 2004

Not only did Henry Ford make a car that people could afford, he also paid his line workers a generous (at the time) $5/day, reasoning that he'd help create a class of people who could afford the cars he was making.

GML
Friday, April 02, 2004

"""reasoning that he'd help create a class of people who could afford the cars he was making"""


Soooo..... it in fact wasn't generosity, then, huh?

not that I blame the guy
Friday, April 02, 2004

Walgreens and Gillette were founded by single people. I'm pretty sure Wells and Fargo were two guys with stagecoaches.

The companies I named haven't done too poorly - Ford is still around almost a hundred years later, Disney is known worldwide, MS is on the DJ30 as a very young company.

I'm thinking that great companies need strong roots, and those roots come from visionaries.

I need to do more research on this - I'll post later this evening.

Philo

Philo
Friday, April 02, 2004


I would say that while Ford hasn't done "poorly", it hasn't excelled either. It has lost market share almost continually for the past 40 years. It clearly has not beaten the market by andaverage of 7 times over the last 15 years. Using that ruler, it is not "great".

Again, it doesn't really matter if a company was founded by one person or not. What matters is if the company is merely an extension of the founder and whether it can live on, and prosper, after the founder has retired or moved on.

All of the companies referenced in "Good to Great" were decent, but underperforming companies prior to their liftoff. What struck the study team the most was that none of the transformations to great companies were managed by lone, "charismatic" leaders. All were driven by teams.

anon
Friday, April 02, 2004


re Visionaries:

One of the most compelling stories in the book is the description of one company (a paper company, IIRC) that came to realize it would never be #1 in it's market. The management team accepted that and went and looked for a market in which they could compete and dominate.

Once they found that market, they sold off all their assets in the old market, like Cortez burning his boats upon landing in the new world. This company now dominates it's new market.

If that's not visionary, what is?

No one knows this CEO's name. He doesn't get on the cover of Forbes. He doesn't enter America's Cup races. The one constant in all the stories is that the management of these companies is reluctant to take credit for any special genius, is team oriented above all, is low key, focused, and publicity shy.

anon
Friday, April 02, 2004

Elephant:

"if they might have been" != "they were".

I was pointing out that a successful company may not necessarily be one that you'd want to work for, or want to exist in your city or country.

NoName
Friday, April 02, 2004

"""I'm thinking that great companies need strong roots, and those roots come from visionaries.

I need to do more research on this - I'll post later this evening."""

We eagerly await the fountain of knowledge which will pour forth upon a solid days worth of research.


Friday, April 02, 2004

> Yes! Can you live without a car? You can, but it's much harder

For millions of people, mass commuting wroks fine and saves lots of money!

Don't keep ignoring the world, untill its too late!

Raju Patel
Friday, April 02, 2004

Whether it is harder or easier to live without a car depends on the area you're living in.  In New York City it is generally harder to get around with your own car.  It's a lot easier to hop in a cab or a train than to deal with the nightmares of traffic and parking.  On the other hand, in cities that don't have a good public transportation system life is hard without a car.

NoName
Friday, April 02, 2004

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