Can CEOs tackle the simple questions?

Would you like your child to work for your company?

Thus asked Stefan Stern this week. If the answer is yes, great. If not, why not? Ouch – too obvious and far too close to the bone for many.

Portsmouth Football Club is struggling top tier team in England. Nice players and a colourful manager have not prevented them ending up rock bottom of the Premier League and bankrupt. Accountant Nick O’Reilly of Vantis, who recently examined the club’s books, declared in a BBC interview:

I came away not knowing who controlled what. …(Their business methods had gone) against all good governance.

So how can the owners of Portsmouth FC – and any other struggling enterprise – get ahead of the ball game? Is there a “secret formula”?

A new article in the Harvard Business Review fittingly asks “how can managers assess whether their organizations are fit enough for the new business environment? How can they identify the obstacles preventing their organizations from executing effectively, and how can they overcome those barriers?”

The article cites 7 factors, centred on the theme of agility – is an enterprise vital enough to spot its own mistakes or see the gaps left by others, and then respond quickly?

In the case of Portsmouth, which has seen 4 owners and 2 professional managers within a few months, too much talk has centred on gossip rather than strategy. Many of us can name companies where the effort to create buzzwords has been more intense than the implementation of actual policies.

And you have to ask – be it Portsmouth or elsewhere: Would these top teams encourage their offspring to come to work with them?

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