Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jeff Kindler Shows How Not To Do It

In a time when the world is full of good advice about corporate management and leadership you have to make a special effort to ignore all of it.

According to Fortune, the former Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Jeff Kindler, seems to have done just that.

One does not like to belabor failure. Yet, Kindler’s tenure as the chief honcho of Pfizer is so full of unforced errors and dumb mistakes that it seems destined to become a primary case study in how not to do it.

You have to wonder how the Pfizer board could have elevated someone who was so unsuited to the job. How did it imagine that a litigator-- Kindler’s background and training-- could run a pharmaceutical firm? How did it fail to notice that Kindler had neither the temperament nor the character required in a leader?

Did they simply confuse the rule of law with the rule of lawyers? What is it in our culture that convinces people that a law degree qualifies you to manage and lead a major American corporation?

Anyone who cares about executive mismanagement and misleadership would do well to study the Fortune article. Link here.


Dennis said...

One only needs to substitute Obama and the voters into this and it makes as much sense. How could the Board of Directors of this nation make such a poor choice? Anyone else notice the similarities here?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

That's what I was thinking as I was writing this. I could have mentioned that Kindler was a big Obama supporter and that he lobbied hard for Obamacare.

The mismanagement of America seems to be reflected in some instances of gross corporate mismanagement.

David Foster said...

Peter Drucker asserted that a person who does not hold significant management responsibility before the age of 30 is unlikely to ever become an effective executive...his focus will tend to be on himself and his own work rather than on developing and leading others. I think that in recent years this point has been too often ignored, with people who have spent their careers in "staff" positions being suddenly promoted to "line" positions without significant experience in same.

Also, law firms are not generally known for good management practices and wholesome cultural climates.

David Foster said...

Another example of a company that seems to have some serious management problems is Johnson & Johnson...I've seen no evidence that the guy running it is a jerk, in the sense that Kindler seems to be, but he appears to have serious gaps in his understanding of both manufacturing and of organization design.

See for example this.

Dennis said...

One has to start learning and understanding the art of management early in their working life in order to see the "global" ramifications of their actions.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

As often happens, Drucker had the best insight. It's clear that it applies perfectly well to Kindler. I'm not very familiar with the situation at J & J, but there is surely a book to be written about the way American corporations are being managed.

I am frankly astonished that they are being so poorly managed.

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