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He Failed, Give Him Another 65MM
Are you giving yourself an annual eye exam? I made this episode up on the fly because I finished a prior episode and I said something that reminded me of one of the greatest case studies I’ve ever read. I was flying to, I forgot where, but I was sitting in the middle seat. Kerri was in the aisle and there was a gentleman to my left. He noticed that I was reading a case study of Delta Air Lines. He says, “I was in my Master’s class a couple of years ago. We read the same case.” I said, “It’s probably because it’s one of the greatest case studies of all time of what might be borderline stupidity or lack of common sense.” He says, “What do you mean?” I said, “You tell me. What do you remember from the case?” He says, “I remember that Delta Air Lines was feeling the heat from the low-cost carriers specifically Funjet and Southwest.” I said, “Yes, you’re right so far.”
He said, “They made a major push into branching off a low-cost carrier called Delta Express.” I said, “Yes, you are correct. How did that go?” He said, “It bombed miserably. I think they lost about $100 million with Delta Express, something like that. It was many millions.” I said, “Yes, some Italian guy had this ability to take over Delta Express and I’m not going to say he ran it into the ground. He didn’t, but it failed quickly that when they shut the program down, they had to do some PR to get people to forget Delta Express ever lived.” He goes, “I remember all that.” I go, “Do you remember what happened next?”
You need to have an eye exam when you appoint the same leader who has failed you before big time. Click To Tweet
He goes, “Didn’t they try it again?” I said, “Yes, Delta, a couple of years later, launched another airline called Song.” It was geared towards the female entrepreneur, jet-setter and executive females who according to their numbers bought 68% to 72% of the travel tickets. They were going with slightly pink or lavender planes and different things like that. I said, “Do you remember who they appointed to head up Song?” He said, “No, I don’t remember that.” I go, “It was the same Italian guy. Do I even need to finish this exercise? Do I even need to finish reading the rest of the case study?” I’d only read two-thirds. He goes, “I guess not. I never paid attention to that.”
I said, “Look right here.” I pointed to the case study. It was the same guy appointed to Delta Express that was appointed to Song. I’m asking the audience, would we not all agree that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? It was relatively the same board at Delta. It was the same person at the helm of the two. Do I need to finish how Song ended? Within eighteen months after $65 million, they closed the doors and guess what they did again? A massive PR campaign shuttering all the local offices with Song and a PR campaign to get you to forget Song ever existed.
When is the last time you and your management had an eye exam? How many things are you doing in your company where you’re appointing the same leader on the next project and you know the last two projects they’ve led failed? Are you the leader that keeps starting projects that keep failing? I’m asking everybody reading this and I hope you read this once a year, how many different operations do you have going in your company where the person leading something not only failed once, but possibly has failed twice? Is that the pure definition of when you got to let somebody go? No, but isn’t it possible you could maybe have somebody else lead the project where that person currently leading might take a side step and let somebody else lead?
I’m going to keep this one short. I don’t need to elaborate on this, but when some of the biggest companies in the world with the biggest budgets and the greatest supposed boards are appointing someone to lead something that failed in a blaze of glory two and a half short years ago and you’re going to entrust them with another $65 million, you need to have your eyes examined. You need to have your head examined. You can’t do that. You got to step back and continually examine leadership. You want to always move forward with someone that wins when they do something, not with someone that loses. It’s not personal. This is business. See you.
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