Blogger: Kevin Kampman
Last week I was at the Novell Analyst Briefing in Waltham, the type of event where intellectual competitors are on their best (if somewhat restrained) behavior. It’s an event where we find things to discuss that aren’t contentious and that don’t reveal what we are really thinking. We save that for later.
At the dinner reception, I shared a conversation with a fellow analyst about other companies we knew. Since I live near Dayton and once worked for NCR, we had a nice chat about former CEOs, in particular, Charles Exley. She recalled that he was one of the last “true gentlemen” and how she was impressed about his collection of antique timepieces in his New York office. The passing of the hours was notable, in that the chimes all went off together.
Upon my return, I learned that NCR has decided to pull up its Dayton roots after 125 years and move everything to Georgia. Following upon the demise of several automotive facilities in the area, this is not good news. But, it was a long time coming and not without indication. Many former NCR employees believe it was the ill-fated 1990’s acquisition and divestiture of the company by AT&T that signaled the end.
I learned many things at NCR, among them: Managers do not speak “IT”, politics run rampant, and nice guys finish last. The Governor of Ohio and Mayor of Dayton both cited inaccessibility of NCR CEO Bill Nuti as part of the problem. He didn’t come to Dayton; they didn’t visit him in New York. Lesson learned: “There’s your sign”. It’s obvious that Georgia did a better job than Ohio of communicating with NCR about its future needs than its legacy. For that reason, NCR is moving on.
In our recent role management customer inquiry project, Ian Glazer and I interviewed many companies and heard over and over about how important communications and governance are to project success. We’ll be discussing this at Burton Group’s Catalyst Conference in San Diego. In the meantime, if you aren’t having effective conversations with management, remember that silence may not be golden.