Yahoo to Yang: Bleeding Purple is Not Enough

Nov 18, 2008

So Jerry Yang has stepped down (again) as CEO at Yahoo. Unfortunately for Yahoo, he should never have taken the post in the first place (he replaced Terry Semel in 2007).

As all you Predictable Success® followers will know, a returning founder/owner is almost always a sure sign of an organization in Treadmill trying to recover its lost glories by returning to Fun – a process that never works.

Yang told employees in his departure memo: “All of you know that I have always, and will always bleed purple,” (Yahoo’s corporate color). Big deal. If an organization is ever to grow beyond their founder/owners, the first painful step is for those same founder/owners to realize that their job is to downplay their personal ‘bleediness’ and to complete the process of passing on the vision-baton to senior and middle management.

[Someone needs to tell Howard Schultz (trying, and predictably failing, to do a similar thing at Starbucks) that it’s not enough to bleed Green, or muddy brown, or whatever Starbucks corporate color is these days.]

Yang was a big ‘V’*, so in an attempt to right the ship, expect to see Yahoo’s board over-compensating by going for a big P when seeking a replacement CEO. Which of course will take Yahoo…right back to Treadmill.

* Footnote for avid PS-ers: Technically, Yang is a Maverick (in private workshops I might use the title ‘J*rk’): not a member of the McCain-Palin gang, but rather an extreme version of the Visionary – one with little or no ability to communicate with ‘O’, ‘P’ or ‘S’s [i.e. his PS DNA is V _ _ _ ].

This lack of an understanding of how others think and what makes them tick is at the heart of the failure to do the Microsoft deal, which placed Yang in the position of having to communicate with one of the biggest ‘O’s in business: Steve Ballmer. Ballmer is as extreme in his ‘O’-ness as Yang is in his ‘Y’-ness. Result: No understanding. No empathy. No deal.