If the article in the Financial Post is true (RIM leaning toward new chairman: sources) it looks like the board is ready to make a move to finally begin helping the ailing BlackBerry maker. According to the article, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis will be replaced as Chairman by an independent board member in Barbara Stymiest.
Suppose this is in fact true and the board does replace the co-CEO’s with Ms. Stymiest, does this finally pave the way for change within the leadership of the organization as well? To take on this job and leave the company as is would be a farce. The board needs to govern and right now it is not doing its fiduciary requirements for the good of the company.
We all know the story of RIM’s ungraceful fall from glory in North America, it has been playing out in slow motion in front of our eyes for the better part of a year now.
Product delays, advertising missteps, colossal blown technology bets, media miscues and a leadership team that still maintain that we “don’t get them” are not board issues per se but action from the board should have been a result – long ago. When a company’s stock drops 75% in a calendar year there is usually action that results. When a company bets its life (and says as much publicly) on a product that didn’t hit the mark there is usually action that results. Token salary reductions by two billionaires signifies to me that they don’t get it. Action needs to happen.
The issues at hand here are compounded by the board but fall squarely on the leadership of the company. The only move the board should be making is a clean sweep of the co-CEO’s and bring a single person in to run the company. Product has failed, marketing has failed, morale has failed – these are leadership issues AND governing oversights because they have lasted so long without action.
It is very easy to run a company when things are going right – the true test is when things start to turn the other way. It is clear to most of the breathing world that still cares about this company that this leadership team has had its day with this company.
The board has been silent – in action – on the mismanagement of the company and the hope now is that a new Chairman of the RIM Board means change is afoot for the company. I hope it isn’t too late to save this bastion of Canadian technology.