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Archive: Change management

Dior to fire John Galliano over anti-Semitic remarks

While this approach may work well when the designer is loved and adored, it will only backfire if he or she does something as scandalous as what Galliano is alleged to have done. The designer becomes inextricably tied to the brand's success, making him or her that much harder to replace. And the same image-conscious celebrities who helped promote the label could begin to shun it, prompting the style-obsessed masses to do so too.

By Jena McGregor | March 1, 2011; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (47)

What is it about Chris Christie? The benefits of creating a common foe

Christie would likely say that he is only speaking the hard truths about the future of his state and what must be done to get costs under control. But a big reason why his message works so well is that he's found another adversary for voters fretting over their finances. And all the swagger and simple speech in the world isn't quite as powerful as a common foe.

By Jena McGregor | February 28, 2011; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (112)

Apple's elephant in the room

I don't think Apple should be forced to reveal its succession plan--as long it has one in place--it could still choose to be more forthcoming on the status of one of its most critical assets.

By Jena McGregor | February 24, 2011; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (5)

Little excuse for the thin U.S. leadership bench in Afghanistan

No student of any kind of history--military, political or otherwise--would have expected the conflict in Afghanistan to be over quickly, which means a leadership pipeline should have been an obvious need and top priority.

By Jena McGregor | February 15, 2011; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (11)

Can Arianna Huffington hold onto that founder's drive?

What may be the more interesting question is how this deal will play out for Huffington. She'll end up far richer, of course. But will she be able to retain the sense of urgency and entrepreneurial zeal that got her site where it is now?

By Jena McGregor | February 7, 2011; 01:32 PM ET | Comments (24)

The risks of drawing out Egypt's leadership transition

In a place as volatile as Egypt, such a drawn-out transition has the potential to be much, much worse. The much-needed reforms Mubarak has promised would have little weight. The expectation of seismic changes in the country's government could bring current operations to a standstill, inviting even more chaos.

By Jena McGregor | February 2, 2011; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

Google: Rekindling that start-up mojo

When a founder returns to the helm, one thing is usually behind it: The company has become too big or too bureaucratic, and it's looking to rekindle some of that start-up magic. Google has said as much. In its announcement, Schmidt said the company was looking to make its management more nimble, a hallmark of entrepreneurial cultures.

By Jena McGregor | January 21, 2011; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

Behind the curtain: Besides Jobs, Apple's other leaders

Taken together, the top brass at Apple is likely to keep the company humming during Jobs' absence and manage the company quite well, at least in the short term. Over the long haul, however, many Apple observers question whether any of these leaders has the same capacity to inspire the sort of game-changing technology and design feats for which Jobs is so well known.

By Jena McGregor | January 18, 2011; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (5)

Finally, merit pay for auto workers?

A pay structure that only rewards seniority or job description does not do much to encourage people to work better, smarter and more efficiently on a day-to-day basis. Rather, it rewards people solely for sticking around. And as GM and Chrysler try to get out from under the government's investments, they will need their people--all of their people--to do a lot more than that.

By Jena McGregor | January 14, 2011; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (24)

Haiti's Iron Market: A symbolic rebirth

Symbolism plays a huge role in leadership, and O'Brien's investment in the Iron Market's reopening within a year of the tragedy is an example of its power. Symbolic gestures motivate people in any situation, but especially in a place where the scale of human misery is as tremendous as it is in Port-au-Prince. And in Haiti, where so little hope is left, it may be one of the only remaining things that works.

By Jena McGregor | January 12, 2011; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

How Daley will help Obama

Daley's ties to business, his centrist politics and, perhaps most important, his age and gravitas, should go a long way to helping Obama answer critics about his weaknesses. That is, as long as he keeps letting Daley disagree with him.

By Jena McGregor | January 6, 2011; 04:33 PM ET | Comments (10)

Obama's reshuffle: More outsiders, please

Companies with major strategic problems tend to bolster their executive ranks with outside expertise, whether as employees or consultants. Coaches coming off of losing seasons are expected to bring in new assistants who can overhaul problem areas. For Obama, too, a bigger mix of inside and outside candidates in his major reshuffle could go a long way toward balancing frank assessments and bold new ideas with institutional knowledge and trust.

By Jena McGregor | January 5, 2011; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (11)

Boehner: Will passing up power really work?

What's admirable leadership elsewhere could be a disaster when it comes to Congress. The problem? Decentralization works in other places because everyone is working toward the same goal.

By Jena McGregor | January 4, 2011; 01:04 PM ET | Comments (14)

BCS: Time for a change?

As anyone who pays even a smidgen of attention to college football is well aware, the controversy over the Bowl Championship Series, which pairs conference champions in four major games as well as a national title match-up, may be the longest running debate in sports.

By Jena McGregor | January 3, 2011; 09:21 AM ET | Comments (13)

When pulling a Clinton 'triangulation,' where Obama should diverge

Call it whatever you want, but Obama is pulling a Clinton-esque move, doing his best to court voters in the middle. Still, by making the tax cut deal the first step toward that approach, he differs in one important way.

By Jena McGregor | December 17, 2010; 12:42 PM ET | Comments (21)

Jayson Werth: Nats get a taste of managing star power

But unlike the Red Sox or the Yankees, the Nats roster isn't already studded with highly paid, elite free agents. To set the team on a winning spree, Rizzo won't just have to bring on more top talent--though that is a necessity, no matter how great Werth may be, as the pressure to do it all himself is a setup for failure. He'll also have to navigate the egos of the young players already on National Park's field, who'll be making room for Werth's big contract and big status on a team not traditionally home to big stars.

By Jena McGregor | December 16, 2010; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (4)

Boehner's 'cry' for common ground

Boehner may be right that people don't like to give anything up when negotiating a solution--that's why we look to leaders, after all, to hold firm on our most important principles and values, even if it means giving up something of lesser significance. To reject outright the notion of compromise may make the incoming speaker sound like a tough fighter. But if he's left with little common ground, he won't be successful as a leader, either.

By Jena McGregor | December 13, 2010; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (24)

Florida Gators' coach Urban Meyer calls it quits--right?

I highly doubt Florida will have been Meyer's last coaching gig, or that it'll take him long to find his next one. But the pressure cooker that is any top leadership job is indeed stressful enough for one to want some time off to spend with the people they love but never see.

By Jena McGregor | December 9, 2010; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (32)

The tax cut deal: Procrastination, not leadership

Both Democrats and Republicans can say there wasn't time for such deliberations with a deadline looming, but both have also known this was coming for years. Then again, carefully planning for the future, as well as tackling the toughest problems first so your successors aren't left with them, takes leadership. And that's been in woefully short supply during the tax cut debate.

By Jena McGregor | December 7, 2010; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (40)

Pfizer's CEO resignation: Fatigue sets in

But with such a cult of celebrity built up around top leaders--not to mention the rich compensation they receive--it's easy to see why they get involved in doing so much more. Maybe if CEOs were paid in more equitable terms, they wouldn't feel as much of an obligation to work the inhuman hours and keep up with the insane travel schedules that they, their companies and their shareholders seem to believe will help justify the riches they earn.

By Jena McGregor | December 6, 2010; 02:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Extending the Bush tax cuts: Human nature?

What does this have to do with the news that the tax cuts are likely to get a temporary extension? Plenty. Those who favor ending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy seem most worried about what this does to the deficit during the temporary extension, or about what this does to Obama's political fortunes--it was a campaign promise, after all, and many on the Left see such "negotiations" as preliminary caving to Republicans.

By Jena McGregor | December 3, 2010; 10:49 AM ET | Comments (100)

The remaking of Murkowski?

Murkowski will be a leader to watch, keeping the possibility alive that she could decide to vote her own way, "pulling a Joe Lieberman" on occasion. She may not owe much to her party. But she may feel she owes at least something to the independents and even Democrats who swung her way.

By Jena McGregor | November 18, 2010; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (27)

Hearst's Cathleen Black, and the trend of 'outsiders' as schools chancellors

The pattern of mayors appointing chancellors outside the usual realm of longtime deputy public school system administrators is nothing new. Michelle Rhee's appointment in 2007 to lead D.C.'s schools surprised Washington, as the education nonprofit leader had never run a school--much less an organization anywhere near the size of the city's public school system.

By Jena McGregor | November 11, 2010; 11:24 AM ET | Comments (4)

Time for Pelosi to call it quits as Democratic figurehead?

For better or for worse, selecting leaders is a very symbolic act. Someone may be an effective fundraiser, or a brilliant manager, or a seasoned negotiator; but if they are the wrong face for the wrong time, they have a much harder time being any of those things. With President Obama talking compromise and greater back-and-forth (he hopes) with the newly empowered Republican party, having Nancy Pelosi as the figurehead of the Democratic Congress sends the message that things are unlikely to change.

By Jena McGregor | November 8, 2010; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (44)

Obama's post-election tightrope walk

Obama is walking a high-wire tightrope. On the one hand, he needs to be willing to compromise, course correct and even renegotiate some of what he's already achieved. But on the other, he has to continue to stand by what he believes, and not bow so much to pressure that he ends up abandoning his ideals. After all, Obama did campaign on many, though not all, of the policies he worked on during his first two years in office.

By Jena McGregor | November 4, 2010; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

Does 'the first 100 days' concept really matter anymore?

In today's 24/7 news cycle, and with the country facing economic problems that require expedient and immediate change, a three-month grace period sounds about as archaic as FDR's fireside chats. If new elected leaders want to make an impact, they're going to have to act fast. And they're not going to get much forgiveness from a cable industry hungry for the first slip up or political gaffe.

By Jena McGregor | November 3, 2010; 09:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama's "enemies" comment: Holding the president to a higher bar

Of course, actually "unifying" anyone--or anything--in Washington is extremely difficult, if not impossible, these days. And Obama may have tried to flex this mediation muscle against a Republican party that was obstinate in opposing him at every turn. But despite that frustration, Obama's calling his opponents enemies did nothing to help the situation. Even if it may seem a double standard at times...

By Jena McGregor | November 2, 2010; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (204)

What Warren got right

What Warren got right isn't necessarily the pick. It's the approach. For one, he's actually naming someone before he gets too old or too infirm to carry out the job. That may seem obvious, but so many companies don't get the simplest of all succession rules down. All too often, succession planning is something that happens after lightning strikes--be it performance woes, an embarrassing boardroom scandal or an unexpected illness or death.

By Jena McGregor | October 26, 2010; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Tribune Co.'s leadership fiasco

A company ridden with as much debt as Tribune Co., which became the largest media company in history to file for bankruptcy, needs a decisive leader to get it out of its current morass. Four leaders, even if it's just temporary, could hurt the company more than they help.

By Jena McGregor | October 21, 2010; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (3)

Why BP's new bonus plan won't work

n an email, Dudley told employees that fourth-quarter bonuses would be based solely on the company's safety record, including "reducing operational risks" and "excellent safety and compliance standards." While existing bonus performance metrics would be honored for the first nine months of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports, safety will be the only measure for the fourth quarter. The problem? It won't work.

By Jena McGregor | October 20, 2010; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

Goldman's new outsider

The most interesting move may be Goldman's hiring of Bess Joffe to be its new vice president of investor relations. Joffe, an attorney who worked for Hermes Equity Ownership Services until she was hired by Goldman recently, has been an advocate for better boards and improved pay and leadership practices, and her hiring was cheered by governance gurus like Charles Elson...

By Jena McGregor | October 18, 2010; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (2)

Where Rhee went wrong

Now that the dust has settled on the news of her departure, Rhee's tenure has plenty to teach leaders about managing change. While the views on Rhee's record are decidedly mixed, even supporters are likely to agree she violated one of the fundamental rules of change management: Rhee was never really able to enlist support from the people--namely teachers and parents--who would ultimately implement the changes she hoped to instill.

By Jena McGregor | October 13, 2010; 02:19 PM ET | Comments (84)

Clinton-Biden switcheroo? Not a bad idea

Why not? Rotating executives between top jobs happens all the time in business, and is seen as good management and corporate governance. It's a natural way for leaders to challenge themselves, develop their skills and stretch different management muscles for a few years.

By Jena McGregor | October 6, 2010; 09:49 AM ET | Comments (31)

Apotheker? The HP head scratcher

Maybe it's a strategic stroke of genius, but I still think the decision is a head scratcher. Apotheker didn't have a great record at SAP, albeit during a rough time for the company. The more hierarchical German corporate culture is worlds away from an organization like HP, which helped give birth to Silicon Valley's dynamic innovative spirit.

By Jena McGregor | October 1, 2010; 02:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Rating BP's management shakeup

New BP CEO Robert Dudley has not even officially started in his new job, and already he's making big changes. The incoming leader, who takes over Friday as CEO of a company struggling with the aftermath of a record oil spill, is ousting entrenched leaders, restructuring the organization and reassessing how employees earn their pay.

By Jena McGregor | September 30, 2010; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (5)

A bumpy ride in store for Southwest and AirTran

Kelly's task is extraordinary, and not just because he and his team have the unenviable task of navigating two sets of labor negotiations. Teaching AirTran people to think like Southwest associates will be no easy task, nor will getting Southwest employees to accept AirTran workers into their tightly knit fold.

By Jena McGregor | September 27, 2010; 01:30 PM ET | Comments (5)

Why a CEO shouldn't run the NEC

The temptation to send a signal when filling such an important leadership role is a risky one. One sees it all the time: rather than simply picking the best person for a job, leaders make political decisions on who will ruffle the fewest feathers or send the right message to their employees, their investors or their constituents.

By Jena McGregor | September 22, 2010; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (2)

HP and its CEO woes

After years of management intrigue from outside leaders, whether the overreaching by Carly Fiorina or the expense account imbroglio of recently departed Mark Hurd, the grandfather of Silicon Valley desperately needs one of its own in charge. Not only does the company need to show that it can still produce good leaders; it needs some continuity in its culture, strategy and leadership after too much turmoil at the top.

By Jena McGregor | September 20, 2010; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (1)

Warren's appointment: The pitfalls of compromise

And so, Obama landed on a compromise--something leaders have to do every day. Except that in Obama's world (where voter dissatisfaction, a radically polarized political spectrum and a news media hungry to turn everything into a controversy), compromises don't have the usual effect.

By Jena McGregor | September 16, 2010; 11:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Nokia's leadership overhaul

today, the company's chairman, Jorma Olilla, announced he would resign in 2012. Talk about a leadership overhaul. While Vanjoki's resignation may not have been part of a master plan, the company is clearly seeking new leadership to help rejuvenate the ailing giant.

By Jena McGregor | September 14, 2010; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (1)

A brain trust for President Obama?

What was idle chatter earlier this week about a shakeup in Obama's ranks has risen to shouting levels now that the mayor's job in Chicago is up for grabs and the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, could run for it.

By Jena McGregor | September 9, 2010; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (13)

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