Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Bob regularly writes blog posts and articles with his areas of focus being leadership, organizational effectiveness. Below you will find the titles and hot-links of his most recent efforts:

US Navy: An Absence of Leadership at the Top

In recent weeks, the press has been full of stories and analyses of the various accidents involving Navy ships over the past year. What’s becoming apparent is a complete lack of leadership from the Navy’s top ranks.

The two most recent incidents were the most jarring. On June 17, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship leaving seven sailors dead. On August 20, the USS John S. McCain collided with a Liberian-flagged oil tanker, leaving ten sailors dead. These two most recent accidents caused the top brass at the Navy to make the following predictable statement; “we will immediately launch a 60-day investigation into fundamental practices.” This sounds trite and political in the face of 17 deaths.

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Cisco: The King of Complexity Pays the Price!

During the period from 1991 to 2000, Cisco Systems was the leader in providing the switches and routers that were the heart of internet infrastructure. During that period, Cisco’s revenue grew averagely about 50% per year. At one point, they were in fact the most valuable company on Wall Street as measured by market cap.

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IBM: A Lesson in the Elusiveness of Objectivity

In its recent quarterly earnings announcement, IBM noted that the division built around Watson, the generalized artificial intelligence tool, experienced a revenue decline of -1% versus year ago. This is after a disappointing +3% growth in the prior quarter. The CEO of the company continues to tout Watson as the savior of IBM. Also, the company continues to field a very heavy advertising program behind Watson. The fact is, it appears Watson is out of gas, but the company keeps hyping it.

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Avon: The Latest “Deer in the Headlights”

It is a psychological fact that if a deer is standing in the dark on a road and a car’s headlights shine on it, the deer is blinded momentarily and it freezes. The funny thing is, it happens not only to deer but to companies and people as well. Psychologists define the commonly used phrase “deer in the headlights” as “a state of indecision caused by surprise, anxiety, fear and confusion”.

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Adobe:  A Great Example of Jumping On an Inflection Point

While rarely getting public attention, Adobe, the maker of Photoshop and many other software tools, has been one of the great success stories in the technology sector in recent years. For perspective, its stock price was in the $45 range as of four years ago and today it trades for roughly $145. How did it do this? By wisely jumping on an important technology inflection point and overhauling how it provided customers its products.

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The GE Mess:  Face Reality and Split it Up!

On the surface, you would expect General Electric to be turning in good business results. Most of their divisions are very strong players in their industries, for example GE Aviation, GE Healthcare, GE Power, and GE Oil and Gas.

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Tesla: The Hype King Stumbles Again!

Tesla makes a very good car and has certainly created high interest in electric vehicles. On the other hand, it’s amazing how regularly the Tesla leader will over-promise and then under-deliver, getting the company into trouble with Wall Street investors. Recently he did it again. Let’s take a look at the details and see what leadership lessons might emerge.

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Ford: Focusing on What’s Cool and Ignoring the Core Business!

The big news at Ford recently was the firing of the CEO who had been in place for three years. The stimulus for this is the fact that Ford’s business is suffering. Specifically, the first quarter of 2017 saw Ford’s pre-tax profits decrease by -35% versus year ago. Ford’s stock has under-performed GM’s by almost 25 percentage points over the past year. In the three year tenure of the departing CEO, Ford’s stock is down -37%.

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Uber: Inventing a Company vs. Running a Company

Uber, the ride hailing service, has been a remarkable success. This competitor to the traditional taxi business now operates in 570 cities worldwide. On the other hand, the company faces an enormous number of issues, many of which are self-inflicted.

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Whole Foods: Another Leader Seduced by Success!

Whole Foods was founded in 1980 by its current Chairman and CEO and for three decades was the preeminent organic grocery brand. It was quite successful as consumers began to crave organic and natural foods. For years Whole Foods was able to command significantly higher prices for its organic alternatives.

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