An interesting article highlighting the agility and decisiveness that comes with “one-guy” leadership. Also covered, of course, are some of the drawbacks.
February 14, 2008
The One-Guy Theory
Diffuse power begets confusion. Companies led by one guy get things done.
There is a central truth about Time Warner (TWX) that new CEO Jeff Bewkes must grapple with: Things. Move. Very. Slowly. There. The stock market yawned after his initial earnings call with analysts on Feb.6, perhaps because two of the major initiatives he mentioned—revamping AOL to sell its dial-up access business more easily and moving toward some decision about Time Warner Cable (TWC)—already have spent a few seasons percolating as possibilities in the press. Furthermore, readying AOL would be “fairly complicated,” Bewkes warned. The process could take several months.
This touches on the fundamental media conglomerate problem: There are too many layers. There are too many fiefdoms. There are too many…guys. Guys strolling the corridors, guys clustering around the boardroom, guys slowing things down. (The litany of executives that follows shows they’re, still, almost exclusively guys.) This, in a time of great uncertainty and fast-shifting consumer appetites, when sheer speed may determine which companies successfully molt and which simply melt.
I was chewing this over with a dealmaker pal and, inevitably, the alacrity and decisiveness with which News Corp. (NWS) makes its moves came up. Said pal had a two-word explanation: “One guy.”