How did we get into this mess?
I spend a lot of time consulting with business puzzles and serving on start-up boards. The other day some young entrepreneurs came in to get worked over, and I was lamenting and bemoaning a particular board mess. And one of the gentlemen asked the following, “How did it get to this?”
I was gobsmacked. Indeed, in retrospect I wanted to try to understand the dynamics of dysfunction. I am not at liberty to name names or details, but I have come to one coherent conclusion – namely that there is usually one distinct, discrete decision that the board or the management get wrong – and from there, we are on the downhill bobsled to loss of value and litigation. This is true both of my particular puzzle, and also across multiple companies that I know about or have been part of.
Now let’s assume for the moment that I am correct and that there is always one important, critical, bet-the-company decision that comes up to the board or the management team and they whiff on it. The question becomes can we identify it when it comes up and can we get it right more often than not.
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