Well it's Monday morning here, but 5 PM in Seattle on Sunday. So no real scrum for this morning (or late last night). I have promised several some shots of urban planning / transit / community in Hong Kong. I've been gathering pictures - but I didn't bring the proper USB cable and Fuji saw fit to have the most unused USB type on their camera. So I bought a travel USB kit (very cool) still without the proper end. I'll get the proper end today and start putting things up on Flickr.
My post yesterday on Yahoo!'s peanut butterism had some pretty nice legs - may have been one of my highest one-day reads. I'm glad. I noticed a lot of other people calling for change at the top, wanting to see the Yahoo! structure killed, etc. I still feel that focus on one person is incorrect. (Although, for some good reasons why Terry may want to step down, read Eric Jackson's post.)
Now, it may be that Terry Semel needs to go. I'm not saying one way or the other. What I'm saying is that this is systemic failure - as Katrina was systemic failure. If Yahoo! focuses on changing just Semel, it's like letting "Brownie" go and thinking that fixes the problem.
As for the Vision and the CEO, Wall Street may think one thing, but the CEO does not SET the Vision, the CEO elucidates, communicates and perhaps extends the vision. A CEO that sets a vision is a dictator. The change required at Yahoo! cannot suffer a dictator.
Change at the top, for a systemic problem like this, is like shoveling snow of the tip of an iceberg.
Having said this, the CEO can certainly be an impediment to conversation. Bill Clinton used to have town hall meetings where people would ask him questions - sometimes these people disagreed with Clinton. The result was images of disharmony and confrontation. But they asked questions, they got answers and there was discussion.
George Bush's town hall meetings are invite only for supporters. The result is Orwellian agreement and staged harmony. There is no discussion.
It is much easier for people to govern if they are able to control perception. If Semel goes along with my ideas, Semel will have to be ready to some disharmony, some nasty blogging, and some outright anger. This is healthy and normal.
It's much like going to get a massage. Your body stores up chemicals in your tissues when you are under stress and these chemicals are nasty. So, you have a massage, and you drink a lot of water to flush those chemicals. If you don't, it'll make you sick. Yahoo! needs a massage.
Right now, if you look at my company as a dictatorship, there must be chaos. There are no leaders. Both William and I are out of the country in Paris and Hong Kong. How can the company function?
Well, it functions and will function because we have communication and we have trust. Now that we've entered a major development, the upper managers are becoming less relevant. The project direction is understood by all, the features and tasks are in our VersionOne, they don't have to wait for us to tell them a vision.
As we get further along into development, William and I should become almost inert. Like the head of the senate. We'll sit there and be tie-breaker votes, but the team will plan the iterations, develop the software, and expand the vision.
As we've seen recently, being a dictator doesn't pay. It gets you executed, bad hair or at least low low approval ratings. I'd like to avoid any of those three outcomes, I think Terry Semel would too.