About 250 years ago The Bellwether Corp (TBC) was formed with the charter to create products that bring happiness, produce them in adundance and in an unabashed manner. Over the years TBC products reached all countries of the world making TBC well-known and expanding its reach. TBC’s success was built on high R&D spending, innovation, stable management, ability to attract good talent and willingness to make big bets on new products and innovations. In short, TBC was both admired and feared, loved and hated in equal measure. The one undisputed fact was the impact of TBC on many lives across the world. The charter of TBC called for 4-year contracts at a time for the CEO of the company and another 4-year term, if approved by majority of stakeholders, for a maximum of 8 years.
Around the turn of the last century the leadership changed hands when a scion of a previous CEO of TBC assumed charge. The scion’s plan called for aggressive expansion of business overseas and mergers and acquisitions (M&As) within the country to fuel growth. The ambitious plan called for lot of money investment. While business grew for TBC its debt grew faster. Overseas investments got mired in low returns and internal M&As got bogged down due to the cost and complexity involved in integrating different products and cultures. This resulted in some of the divisions being shed and turmoil of the market due to the uncertainties and losses that ensued. After 8 years under the scion CEO it was time for change of leadership.
TBC’s next CEO came from within. A relative unknown and young person was heralded as the next big hope (NBH). NBH’s first priority was to bring calm and restore market faith in TBC and then fuel sustainable growth. NBH succeeded in the first priority but results were mixed in the growth aspect. There were notable successes accompanied by areas of frustration as the task involved a cultural shift which TBC was not fully prepared for or ready to embrace fully. TBC’s workers were also expecting more prosperity for the fruits of their labor and under NBH many felt it was not fully delivered. NBH’s 8-year contract ended with TBC more stable and secure and on a path of growth but with the dreams not fully realized.
For the next leader TBC looked outward for someone to spark more explosive growth. In came an outsider (OUTS), without a cultural connection to TBC, promising to change the way of conducting business by shattering established norms and doing away with what OUTS considered old shibboleths that were holding back TBC from fully realizing its greatness. Per OUTs the new approach would result in upgrading of infrastructure in a big way, usher in high growth, make TBC more safe and secure, reduce the debt burden of the company and increase the happiness and prosperity of TBC workers within the first few months itself. A tall order to achieve it all even in one full 4-year term but that’s what OUTS insisted would happen. For making it happen OUTS demanded absolute power and total fealty from all stakeholders of TBC. The first couple of years saw TBC grow at a rapid pace. TBC workers and other stakeholders saw their net worth grow. This was happening in the context of old, established structures for safety and governance being torn down and aggressive deals being negotiated with TBC suppliers and other 3rd party service providers and amidst whispers of malfeasance and ad-hoc decision making. Company debt also grew to alarming levels. Whistleblowers were silenced strongly and all competitive threats were dealt with lot of force. Disaster struck in the 4th year of OUTS’ first 4-year contract. A mystery illness swept through TBC affecting TBC workers. What first appeared as something minor soon spread like wildfire causing serious sickness and sometimes causing worker deaths. This caused consternation within TBC, prompting safety officials to sound the alarm about the likely far-reaching impact this could have on TBC workforce and potentially impact this could have on others doing business with TBC. The measures suggested to mitigate and contain the risk included shutting down TBC plants initially along with strict monitoring and putting additional safety plans in place to contain the fallout and reduce prolonged pain. This did not go well with OUTS who was daunted by the cost and consumed by renewal of a second 4-year contract due later in the year. With safety plans not implemented per experts’ recommendation the pain and economic impact spread far and wide. Loss of jobs and lives followed. When time came for considering whether to extend the contract of CEO for another four years, a majority of stakeholders, albeit small, voted against it and seem to have approved going forward with a TBC veteran (VET) insider steeped in company culture instead.
OUTs would appear to be on the way out but is not leaving without a fight. OUTS has filed lawsuit/s alleging sabotage from within and claiming to have majority support for another 4-year term. Will the courts step in and make a ruling or let TBC company board of directors and other stakeholders work it out? Like all stakeholders impacted directly or indirectly by the turn of events I am watching too, with concern.
The above fictional story could very well be a tale of real companies or even real countries