Modern management is very complicated. The modern manager needs to be a strategist, psychologist, and operationalist. This manager also needs to have decision-making skills, financial skills, and people skills. This complexity is why they make the big bucks. I know of a business manager who works for a Dr.’s office here in town that knows accounting, but doesn’t have a clue on how to deal with people, which is the reason she is failing miserably. One of the biggest mistakes a manager can make though is not paying attention to detail.
Greg Hammond, who was CEO of Nautilus, learned this lesson the hard way. His goal at Nautilus was to grow the company. The only problem was the infrastructure of the company could not support the speedy growth that was occurring. Nautilus ended up shipping multiple items to customers without understanding who received what. The honest customer would contact Nautilus and tell them they received multple Bowflexs, and the dishonest ones didn’t. Needless to say because Hammond had no idea this was going on profits plummeted. Now he is coaching High School sports.
Robert Murdoch is another manager that lost focus. This is not to say that delegating authority is a bad thing. However, when you delegate you need to have checks and balances in place to measure the performance of all involved. In the case of the periodical News of the World, it appears that Murdoch did not know what was going on. He relied on his right hand person Rebekah Brooks, but it appears she practiced the MUM principle. She told Murdoch only what he wanted to hear.
Murdoch continues to state the illegal activities that occurred were the result of one rogue reporter, but one has to wonder whether the desire to get a scoop overwhelmed the requirement to obtain information ethically. When a reporter hacks into someone’s voice mail and deletes a couple of messages so those that are listening might hear something new, that is wrong and should be punished.
Just like Phil Condit at Boeing, who denied knowledge of what Mike Sears was doing during a previous negotiation with the US government over tankers, Murdoch denies any knowledge of this event. However, some manager knew how the information was being obtained. If that person is Rebekah Brooks, then the mighty will fall.
Here is a woman with a High School education who has hob knobbed with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. She is a woman who was the CEO of News International and was very close to Murdoch, but she is a person who has now been arrested.
There is something about power that corrupts, and corrupts absolutely. Brooks is another, like Bernie Madoff, Jeff Skilling, Kenneth Lay, and Mike Sears who, drunk with power, felt they were above the law. Murdoch’ problem, which to me is amazing, is the fact that something as extreme as this happened without his knowledge. He has been in the business for 57 years, and now this happens?
I’ll bet you that this will never happen again to Murdoch or his son. They will learn from this and create a stronger ethical system with checks and balances. Why can’t we learn from others, why do we need to have a first generation failure before we change. And change Murdoch will do.
And that is my thought for the day!