Nortel Networks was an amazing company. If you had the privilege of working there, you worked with some of the brightest and most compassionate people you would have ever met.
Many processes like product development, project management, supply chain management, customer service were described as Best in Class.
So what happened?
Well one thing that happened was that for almost a year the company was leaderless. John Roth had decided to move out of day-to-day management and hand over the reigns to heir apparent Clarence Chandran. Clarence dreamed of a truly global company. He was on a business development trip in Singapore when three burglars broke into the home in which he was visiting and stabbed him in the neck and upper abdomen. Major reconstruction surgeries…and recuperation took time.
Nortel’s commitment to its people did it in. Hoping for a speedy recovery for Clarence and compassion for his leadership kept him at the helm when he probably should have stepped down. But don’t blame Chandran for staying – as a Canadian company, the cultural symbol of survival, hard work and respect for each other were the unwritten principles.
So yes Nortel was without leadership at a time when they most needed leadership.
and this is in no way takes away from the other case study analyses of the company but it is the analysis of one who lived it.
As entrepreneurs we believe that our companies need us to survive – and we may be right. But a succession plan is the best thing for every sustainable company and your own personal wealth. What is your succession plan?
Still enjoying vacation…hope you are too! Remember to take a break, rest and then get back on track smarter, stronger and ready to race.
yours in Corporate Social Responsibility
Cara MacMillan MBA