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Nose Under the Community Tent

By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Succession Strategies

Uploaded: Aug 27, 2013

Steve Ballmer of Microsoft announced his "retirement" last week. No heir apparent, and some locals here in Silicon Valley are on pundit lists.

Arab Spring—no success or succession so far for most of the countries involved. Dysfunction prevails. Tunisia, Libya and especially Egypt are in turmoil, and the wretched Assad regime in Syria is killing its own people in an attempt to stay in power. And there is Zimbabwe, where a nearly 90 year old politician was re—elected under dubious election circumstances, after running the country into the ground in the last 30+ years.

Lives are at stake and have been lost along the Mediterranean Sea and Africa. Finding a replacement for Ballmer is kid's play by comparison.

Still, there is lesson that has gone on for eons and never seems to be learned by many in leadership positions:
Who will succeed you? Or at least how will your organization find an orderly process to find your successor?

Not that long ago, HP brought in Carly Fiorina to take the helm there, poorly vetted and a disaster as HP CEO. Meg Whitman, HP's current CEO, to her credit brought John Donaho in to succeed her at EBay, and it went pretty smoothly. Eric, Larry and Sergi seem to understand at Google how important this is. Facebook? Don't know.

My larger point is when a regime, be it a country or a company of substance, is in transition, many incumbent leaders seem to lack an ability to look beyond their tenure and think about the best interests of shareholders, customers, employees, let alone citizens.

I certainly don't have a good prescription for this—well beyond my pay grade, and there are plenty of very smart folks who spend their time thinking about this.

It is Shakespearian and the Bard only presented the dilemmas, not the resolutions.

There is more than a small bit of melancholy about leaders who do not know how to find their successors.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Gene, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm


You didn't mention Saddam Hussein. He was a mass murderer, used
WMD big time. However, he did have a rational succession scheme: His own sons. I would hope that you agree that GWB liberated Iraq from this monster. It took boots on the ground, as proven by the ineffectual rocket attacks by Clinton, who demanded regime change, yet failed to do it (to be repeated in Syria?). GWB did it. Iraq now has its own future in front of it, should it choose to take it, even with Obama's abandonment. Egypt is a mess, but it still has the opportunity to stand its ground against the Islamists, if it has the will...probably the military (same old, same old).

Microsoft: Needs new young blood, IMO.

Posted by Gary, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Seems that gene is using Paul's to launch another one of his diatribes against Obama while singing the praises of GWB. Sounds familiar.
Paul is referring to current events.

Posted by Gene, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm

"Paul is referring to current events."

Really? Shakespeare?

The liberation of Iraq, by GWB, stands on it own merits and demerits. A shot across the bow by Clinton or Obama will achieve nothing, but it will stir up the hornets nest against the USA. Just watch: If a 2-3 day missle/bomber attack goes forward, because of WMD, it will achieve next to nothing. To be effective, it will take a much longer campaign, including boots on the ground.

Clinton and Obama were/are very naïve. GWB took care of business.

Posted by Gary, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm

And " gene" goes on and on.....
Care to moment on Paul's actual post??

Posted by Just the facts, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 8:05 pm

" To be effective, it will take a much longer campaign, including boots on the ground."
And who would we support with our boots on the ground? Assad?
Or the Syrian rebels aligned with Al QEADA:
Web Link
Web Link

You've been listening to noted crackpot McCain.

Will you be signing up for military service or will you be sending your children.

Posted by one of the ways to stay in power, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 8:33 pm

One of the ways to stay in power, is to eliminate your successors. Many corporate and political leaders have successfully done this. Why groom a replacement, it might give people ideas.

Posted by Gene, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 8:41 pm

"And who would we support with our boots on the ground? Assad?"

If we don't know, or can't decide, then don't do anything. A limited missile attack will do next to nothing, other than to stir things up. If Obama really believes in stopping WMD attacks in Syria, he will need to go with a very serious attack, including boots on the ground, and, possibly, regime change. If he is not willing to get serious, he should just back off. IMO, Obama doesn't have any firm beliefs, so he shouldn't pretend that he does. He is no GWB.

Posted by Gary, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Gene-- can't decide who to support in Syria? You were pushing for boots on the ground an hour ago. What happened ? Found out that al Qaeda is supporting the rebels? So you want to replace Assad with al Qaeda supported rebels?
Obama has many firm beliefs-- they just do not jibe with the tea naggers, right- wingnuts and you gene.
Obama is no GWB-- he got bin laden and got us out of Iraq. And he has a Nobel peace prize

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

I have mixed opinions about GE, and I do give former CEO Jack Welch (who I perceive to be a real SOB) credit for grooming many people who could take his place when he stepped down.

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