February 2016 Leaders & Laggards

Leadership Leader

UT System sealStraying from organizational values is a slow fade.

Too often, senior leadership is so disassociated with how their people reflect corporate values outside of the organization, the brand is severely tarnished long before it’s noticed and damage control is initiated just after the nick of time.

It’s refreshing when a leader recognizes the culture is changing – or has changed – and jumps on an opportunity to address it and get the organization back on track.

Disclaimer: While Bill McRaven is a friend, we have exactly one Aggie and zero Longhorns in our firm.

What a breath of fresh air to have the University of Texas System Chancellor remind the System’s senior leaders that leading by example isn’t an option, and their example should be a good one.

In short, Chancellor McRaven (aka retired Admiral Bill McRaven who oversaw the bin Laden raid) wrote a letter to all UT System presidents and athletic directors reminding them that the US flag and national anthem still mean something and deserve respect. He adds that because young athletes learn so much of their behavior from adult athletes, UT athletes and staff would do well to demonstrate respect for the flag as a positive example for others.

You can read the whole letter here.

So a man who understands service before self and the sacrifices made to keep this nation free asks, “… encourage your coaching staff and your players to stand up straight when the National Anthem is played; to face the flag and place their hand over their heart as a sign of respect to the nation.”Isn’t that what we all learned as kids?

Culture starts at the top, and the top of the UT System knows it. Well done, Bill. You’re this month’s Triangle Performance Leadership Leader.

Leadership Milquetoast

 

Xerox. A lifetime of “just after the nick of time.”

The company could have—should have—owned the whole damned computer industry. Bigger than Microsoft, bigger than Apple, bigger than IBM. It was theirs for the losing. And they just keep on losing it… their corporate tagline should be, “Xerox—just after the nick of time.”

Xerox_AltoXerox built and programmed the first GUI (graphical user interface), before Apple, before Microsoft. Your mouse could point a cursor to information on a screen. It was connected to other computers via this thing they invented called Ethernet. In a nutshell, Xerox invented the PC. Way cool stuff.

Alas, the powers in Xerox believed it was a fad, and support for it would lessen support for their buggy whips paper copiers. Later, Xerox tried to get on board with their own line of PCs… just after the nick of time.

Xerox understood and engineered inkjet printers in the late 90’s. Delaying for further analysis and power struggles (after all, printers were not buggy whips copiers), they waited until HP’s inkjet division was larger than all of Xerox; then they launched an inkjet division… just after the nick of time.

Most recently, Ursula Burns, Xerox CEO, announced the company will split—spinning off a 2010 $7B services acquisition arm. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/01/28/xerox-reportedly-plans-split-into-separate-hardware-software-companies/79476266/#

IBM sold their PC business a decade ago; HP a few years ago. In the midst of this intense industry focusing, Xerox buys a service company to complement its buggy whips copiers, now surprisingly, must split it off… just after the nick of time.

XeroxIf this company would ever get out of its own way, it could crush an industry. Unfortunately, it can’t, so won’t. Revenue in 2015 was almost 5% less than in 1999.Hate to lay all of this on Burns, but to modify the Polish idiom, “Your circus, your monkeys.” Our February Leader Milquetoast.

Leadership Laggard

It was all we could do to pass over Martin Shkreli, the much-reviled ex-CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals and Retrophin, as a Leadership Laggard since we started the newsletter segment last September. His buffoonery may have reached apogee with his latest stunt, amazingly not related to the three companies he’s nearly ruined.

Martin ShkreliHe could have easily made it any month for his narcissistic profiteering on drugs at the expense of sick people. If you’ll recall, last summer he raised the price for a drug used by HIV patients by more than 5,000% for no reason except greed. Thankfully, he failed in his attempt to do the same thing in November with a drug to fight another parasitic – this time hoping to garner a price a thousand times higher than today’s cost.

And who could have argued the Laggard label when he was indicted in December for defrauding investors in his hedge fund Ponzi scheme at MSMB Capital [mis]Management and pillaging the Retrophin coffers to cover his tracks.

No, it gets better… and worse.

This time Shkreli publicly threatened to erase some rap music.

That’s right, Shkreli owns the only copy of the latest Wu-Tang Clan album, and is threatening to erase Dennis Coles’ (aka Ghostface Killah) contribution to the recording because he didn’t like Coles’ criticism of the drug profiteering.

If Shkreli didn’t like what Coles had to say, he probably wouldn’t be happy about me calling him a spoiled, 5th grade bully who clearly doesn’t care who gets hurt – financially and physically – along the way, as long as it’s all about Martin Shkreli. As if I care about his happiness.

He’s classic Laggard who, thankfully, finds himself without a leadership position to screw up this month.

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