The "use-by-date" of a CEO LO10071

JC Howell (
Thu, 19 Sep 1996 09:23:45 +0000

Replying to LO9986 --


The phenomonon you describe as "returning to the start-up phase" was
popularly known here in the US as "turn-around management" a short time
back. It was a very popular topic in the literature for a while but I
haven't seen it very much lately.

When an organization is required (or decides) to go in a new direction,
there is likely to be some cutting of jobs. This is because it has become
so bureaucratic and has a lot of deadwood hanging around as well as
functions that are inflated in order to sustain that bureaucracy.
Additionally, there is likely to be a number of positions which are no
longer needed due to changing demands in technical and other expertise as
old technology is abandoned and new technology embraced.

What you describe, though, is wholesale down-sizing such as we have seen
here in the US over the past few years. While my gut reaction to that
strategy is decidedly negative, it occurs to me that this is perhaps a
larger scale version of the normal changes that take place during a

In other words, while the long-term strength and health of an organization
may be damaged by what appears to be excessive job cutting, those
organizations which are too damaged to recover will die off and be
replaced by others who are either stronger or more resilient. This is a
lot like the wolf vs deer story where the population of each species is
inversely related to the population of the other. This is a kind of
social turnaround.

This, of course, brings up the question you pose regarding the most
appropriate type of ceo for each organization based on its situation and
desired results. I would like to enthusiastically agree with you and the
implications of your posting. However, I have seen large organizations
that have work very hard to maintain their commercial position and
competitive advantage within their industry only to find that they have
become dinosaurs that can't compete. Finally, they die because of an
inability to sustain themselves due to their sheer size. This, then,
leads to the idea of turn-around management and a potentially
self-sustaining loop.

The one thing I don't see in any of these scenarios, though, is a
mechanism to allow those displaced workers to be quickly and meaningfully
retrained and to quickly re-enter the workforce.

Just a few thoughts open to input from all.


Clyde Howell

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