In the world of management, this past year was filled with stories of global economic woes, election implications, Smartphone and tablet wars, ethical lapses, and natural disasters. But upon reviewing some significant decisions of 2012, I found 5 positive messages for us to take into the New Year.
1. Despite concerns about Facebook’s CEO, despite a botched IPO in May, and despite concerns of being able to monetize a billion social media users, Mark Zuckerberg made one of the standout management decisions of the year when he wrote a 2,200 word letter that he filed as part of Facebook’s IPO Prospectus. In it he wrote, “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission.” Zuckerberg went on to state, “Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries.” He also shares his thoughts about the company’s culture, “Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.” Now that the stock is down 28% for the year, Zuckerberg and Facebook employees will be drawing on these words as they work to build the company and create value for the long term.
New Year’s Message: Build meaning into what you build
2. By all accounts the Denver Broncos were successful last season: winning their division, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, and coming from behind to win six games led by the charismatic and popular, yet controversial Tim Tebow. However, in the offseason legendary NFL quarterback and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway was not satisfied with what he saw from Tebow and his poor passing. Instead, he saw an opportunity with another legendary quarterback in Peyton Manning who had been let go by the Colts after a year out with neck surgery. Elway convinced Manning to sign and traded Tebow to the Jets to many fans’ dismay. Elway’s gutsy and opportunistic decision has paid off this season as the Broncos clinched home field advantage for the playoffs with the best record in the AFC.
New Year’s Message: Don’t settle, even in success, if it doesn’t feel right
3. And speaking of not settling. This summer Marissa Mayer made the decision to leave Google and take the position as Yahoo’s new CEO. I remember how young she was as she guided Leslie Stahl around the Googleplex in a famous 60 minutes episode taking us behind the scenes of a newly IPO’d Google. Now at 37 she is a techie legend and leading a 25% stock resurgence at Yahoo. On top of that she just had a baby and at last report was having an “easy” time of it. To be sure this “CEO-geek-mom” is an exception if not exceptional. It seems as if she has it all, but it was built bit by bit with a lot of hard work including 250 all-nighters at Google.
New Year’s Message: If you want it all, go for it but take it one step at a time
4. Of someone who has it all, one might think of George Lucas the creator of Star Wars. In October, Lucas announced that he was selling Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise to Disney. In the agreement, he places in charge Kathleen Kennedy, Spielberg’s producer and co-chair of Lucasfilm, to lead the division in Disney. For all of his genius, as geeks like myself will attest to having passed the love of Star Wars down to my kids, Lucas came up short in his prequel offerings. The hope is now that others will make films that live up to the Star Wars reputation. Lucas’ decision also means his focus will shift to Edutopia which is helping to improve K-12 education. In a year where innovation in education has been seen in the explosion of startups and education alliances, this is welcome news.
New Year’s Message: Let others build on your ideas
5. Lastly, probably the biggest story of the year is in the success of Apple as it remains the largest company in terms of market capitalization even after the passing of founder and CEO Steve Jobs. Apple did many successful things this year including restructure its core team, roll out new Macs, new MacBooks, new iPhones, new iPads, and introduce the iPad mini. But one decision Tim Cook made in December deserves remembering. Cook is investing $100 million to move manufacturing of its Macs to the U.S. Though this is a mere fraction of Apple’s business it represents a sea change in thinking about worldwide operations and labor. Rumor has it that the iPad mini will join the Mac being manufactured in the U.S. This is the first part of a trend we will see expand in the New Year. Hopefully this will be good for American workers.
New Year’s Message: Lead in the ways you can, even small gestures may make a big difference
Happy New Year!