WSJ reported about an internal document sent out by Brad Garlinghouse, a senior vice-president at Yahoo, about his companies’ failure to focus on a particular strategy and instead adopt a peanut butter concept where business units are spread thinly across the company. The online community says that Brad himself was the one who leaked the document to the media to gain attention and probably recognition when Yahoo does improve on points Brad outlined.
My hot points of the alleged leakage
It is possible that Brad himself was the one who leaked the message knowing how difficult it was to prove the allegations. By doing this, he could gain a lot of attention and may increase his overall value either within Yahoo or outside of the company while decreasing the popularity of Yahoo CEO Semel. On the other hand, if it wasn’t Brad who leaked the message and Yahoo finds the culprit; CEO Semel failed in instilling a culture of trust, loyalty and decent ethical standards within the organization which should merit serious thoughts in the power circle of the business’ stakeholders.
CEO Semel would hold Brad Garlinghouse accountable for unethical and lousy behavior while the stakeholders would point towards Semel’s way. The rising stock of Brad would not be valuable to large organizations especially those who uphold integrity and good behavior within their culture. CEO Semel should show Brad the way out otherwise his position as CEO would be threatened and a shift of power would occur. In the end, Brad wouldn’t get away with it unless Semel is blind and dumb enough to ignore it.
In an excerpt of the article from WSJ:
Three and half years ago, I enthusiastically joined Yahoo! The magnitude of the opportunity was only matched by the magnitude of the assets. And an amazing team has been responsible for rebuilding Yahoo!
It has been a profound experience. I am fortunate to have been a part of dramatic change for the Company. And our successes speak for themselves. More users than ever, more engaging than ever and more profitable than ever!
I proudly bleed purple and yellow everyday! And like so many people here, I love this company
But all is not well. Last Thursday’s NY Times article was a blessing in the disguise of a painful public flogging. While it lacked accurate details, its conclusions rang true, and thus was a much needed wake up call. But also a call to action. A clear statement with which I, and far too many Yahoo’s, agreed. And thankfully a reminder. A reminder that the measure of any person is not in how many times he or she falls down – but rather the spirit and resolve used to get back up. The same is now true of our Company.
It’s time for us to get back up.
I believe we must embrace our problems and challenges and that we must take decisive action. We have the opportunity – in fact the invitation – to send a strong, clear and powerful message to our shareholders and Wall Street, to our advertisers and our partners, to our employees (both current and future), and to our users. They are all begging for a signal that we recognize and understand our problems, and that we are charting a course for fundamental change. Our current course and speed simply will not get us there. Short-term band-aids will not get us there.
It’s time for us to get back up and seize this invitation.
I imagine there’s much discussion amongst the Company’s senior most leadership around the challenges we face. At the risk of being redundant, I wanted to share my take on our current situation and offer a recommended path forward, an attempt to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Recognizing Our Problems
We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company. We want to do everything and be everything — to everyone. We’ve known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out. We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course. We are separated into silos that far too frequently don’t talk to each other. And when we do talk, it isn’t to collaborate on a clearly focused strategy, but rather to argue and fight about ownership, strategies and tactics.
Our inclination and proclivity to repeatedly hire leaders from outside the company results in disparate visions of what winning looks like — rather than a leadership team rallying around a single cohesive strategy.
I’ve heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.
I hate peanut butter. We all should.
We lack clarity of ownership and accountability. The most painful manifestation of this is the massive redundancy that exists throughout the organization. We now operate in an organizational structure — admittedly created with the best of intentions — that has become overly bureaucratic. For far too many employees, there is another person with dramatically similar and overlapping responsibilities. This slows us down and burdens the company with unnecessary costs.
Equally problematic, at what point in the organization does someone really OWN the success of their product or service or feature? Product, marketing, engineering, corporate strategy, financial operations… there are so many people in charge (or believe that they are in charge) that it’s not clear if anyone is in charge. This forces decisions to be pushed up – rather than down. It forces decisions by committee or consensus and discourages the innovators from breaking the mold… thinking outside the box.
There’s a reason why a centerfielder and a left fielder have clear areas of ownership. Pursuing the same ball repeatedly results in either collisions or dropped balls. Knowing that someone else is pursuing the ball and hoping to avoid that collision – we have become timid in our pursuit. Again, the ball drops.
We lack decisiveness. Combine a lack of focus with unclear ownership, and the result is that decisions are either not made or are made when it is already too late. Without a clear and focused vision, and without complete clarity of ownership, we lack a macro perspective to guide our decisions and visibility into who should make those decisions. We are repeatedly stymied by challenging and hairy decisions. We are held hostage by our analysis paralysis.
We end up with competing (or redundant) initiatives and synergistic opportunities living in the different silos of our company.
â€¢ YME vs. Musicmatch
â€¢ Flickr vs. Photos
â€¢ YMG video vs. Search video
â€¢ Deli.cio.us vs. myweb
â€¢ Messenger and plug-ins vs. Sidebar and widgets
â€¢ Social media vs. 360 and Groups
â€¢ Front page vs. YMG
â€¢ Global strategy from BU’vs. Global strategy from Int’l
We have lost our passion to win. Far too many employees are “phoning” it in, lacking the passion and commitment to be a part of the solution. We sit idly by while — at all levels — employees are enabled to “hang around”. Where is the accountability? Moreover, our compensation systems don’t align to our overall success. Weak performers that have been around for years are rewarded. And many of our top performers aren’t adequately recognized for their efforts.
As a result, the employees that we really need to stay (leaders, risk-takers, innovators, passionate) become discouraged and leave. Unfortunately many who opt to stay are not the ones who will lead us through the dramatic change that is needed.
Solving our Problems
We have awesome assets. Nearly every media and communications company is painfully jealous of our position. We have the largest audience, they are highly engaged and our brand is synonymous with the Internet.
If we get back up, embrace dramatic change, we will win.
I don’t pretend there is only one path forward available to us. However, at a minimum, I want to be part of the solution and thus have outlined a plan here that I believe can work. It is my strong belief that we need to act very quickly or risk going further down a slippery slope, The plan here is not perfect; it is, however, FAR better than no action at all.
There are three pillars to my plan:
1. Focus the vision.
2. Restore accountability and clarity of ownership.
3. Execute a radical reorganization.
[tags]Brad Garlinghouse, Yahoo, Business[/tags]