Today I was enlightened by an article from Neil Senturia, author of “I’m There for You Baby”, an excellent set of examples and rules for doing business based on his experience. His most recent work is entitled “Lament of the CEO: I Waited Too Long”.
Neil is an experienced CEO turned Investor, and a purveyor of frank and sometimes brutal advice (read his book). His tale recounts the stories of CEO’s who came to him for financial help long after the opportunity to save their respective companies had disappeared. To Neil’s question “Why did they wait so long”? our experience tells us that this final blow that Neil talks about is really the last in a series of delayed decisions that impacted the company at every level. We don’t know if the “delay-until-dead disease” can be cured, but we are sure it can be diagnosed early from obvious symptoms. Those symptoms are legion, so we were forced to pick our top seven based on the ones we have seen most often. Remember, these are symptoms, not causes, people spent too much time chasing symptoms without addressing causes:
- There has never been a recorded meeting of the entire Executive Team together in one place
- The entire backend of the Company is run from spreadsheets
- Even though the company product carries obvious risks, there is no public relations crisis plan, never has been
- The Head of Human Resources last held a position in Administration at the Company
- The Head of Sales and Marketing is an experienced sales person who has never spent a day in Marketing. Marketing as a strategic force at the Company does not exist.
- The Company can’t hire experienced technical talent because it is known far and wide as a sweatshop
- Vendors will no longer service the Company’s orders because all vendors are on a 90-day payment plan
That’s our list. All seven are not required, two or three will do it, and sometimes just the one is sufficient if it goes unaddressed for long enough. Send us your favorites and we’ll post them at a later date.