I ran across this Dow-Jones story entitled Dissident XM Satellite director a good role model; it’s about a Board-level dispute at XM Satellite Radio. The argument is simple and straightforward: whether they should focus on costs and profitability, or go all-out for growth; the right answer isn’t obvious. Lots of businesses have had this kind of argument; I’ve been in a few myself. What’s unique here is that they’re having it out in the open. In my two decades in business, I’ve seen a whole lot of management (sometimes Board-level) arguments, and the more important they are and the harder the problem is, the more fanatically determined people were to keep things secret. For most of my lifetime, the dominant school of management thought has held that the company must present a cheerful, united, confident face to the world and speak always with one voice and only one voice. I think a reasonable case can be made that this thinking is, in its essential characteristics, Fascist. It also strikes me as really, really dumb. How could anyone think the less of XM Radio because we know they’re agonizing over profitability-vs-growth? Unless the issue is something like “Oops, the new product is causing users to develop liver cancer”, I think that in general businesses would benefit from working on their hard problems a little more transparently.

author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
picture of the day
February 19, 2006
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