Friday, September 12, 2008


Unlike me, Goizueta wasn’t bald! But like me, it’s reported that even he had only one wife (!!!). Unlike me, that imp of a daredevil has already [in 1997] kicked the bucket (I mean, come on, I’m still alive... Right?!). Like me, the poor devil was, is and will continue to remain infinitely unknown through eternity. But unlike me, this impoverished Cuban immigrant – who escaped to Miami with his wife and $40 (not necessarily in the order of importance) to escape Castro’s political influence – became the best performing CEO globally in the history of mankind during his incredible 17 years at the top. Since the time he took over the CEO’s mantle in 1981, he created more shareholders’ wealth than any CEO in history – a mind numbing 7,100% share price increase – more than Lou Gerstner, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and even what the neutronic Jack Welch, could ever achieve in that time period!!! And ironically, this top performer’s biggest motherlode of a contribution to the management fraternity has been formalising the art of ‘losing it all when at the top’... in other words, ensuring that he was thoroughly replaceable and could be kicked out lock, stock and barrel, anytime – what we today know as ‘succession planning’!

The world’s most excellently performing CEOs believe religiously in finding their replacements. The ground-breaking 2006 research (In Search Of Excellence: In CEO Succession) on the world’s top-most corporations quotes the Harvard research that “merely announcing who your next CEO will be, can move [up] the market value of your company by 15% or more!” Global research displays unprecedented backing for CEO succession plans, with share prices of companies with planned successions over-performing those of companies without planned successions. And yet – according to National Association of Corporate Directors, US – only a pathetic 16% of directors “reported that their board is effective at CEO succession planning.” The noted Wharton management professor Dr. Katherine Klein comments, “The ideal scenario is careful succession planning that grooms people internally.” The famed 2007 Hay Group Study confirms that almost 80% of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies preferred an internal candidate as a CEO successor! Booz Allen’s 2008 CEO research confirms that around 80-83% of new CEO recruits globally are insiders! Booz Allen also proves beyond doubt that operationally and statistically, ‘insider CEOs’ outperform ‘outsider CEOs’!

And it’s clearly the current CEO’s job to shortlist future replacements [‘The Job No CEO Should Delegate’, Larry Bossidy, HBR]. From GE, where at any given moment there are 5 people battle-ready to become CEOs [Immelt (current GE CEO), Nardelli (current Chrysler CEO) and McNerney (current Boeing CEO) worked under Welch for years before Immelt was chosen], to Warren Buffet who has already identified his successors [in a secret envelope, with the lines, “Yesterday I died. That is unquestionably bad news for me; but it is not bad news for our business!”], top CEOs fire themselves out!!!

To end where we started, my hero, Goizueta had four people ready to takeover his throne at any given moment, and ten more to fill in their posts! Roberto Crispulo Goizueta died of lung cancer on October 18, 1997. For 17 sparkling years, this Cuban ‘revolutionary’ was the world’s best performing global Chairman & CEO of a Fortune 500 company we now know of as Coca-Cola! And nobody’s ever ‘lost’ it like he did...


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