Why Marissa Mayer Did the Right Thing

The business world is up in arms over Yahoo’s latest HR fiasco.   First they “banned” flexible working hours spawning an uproar in the business community and now this.

Combine these 2 events with the negative feedback from employees and the business world is quick to jump to a conclusion that Marissa is a terrible CEO and Yahoo is doomed.

My first reaction to this was that it was an intentional tactic to disrupt the company and wake it up.  It’s un-expected, it’s controversial and, I think, it was the right thing to do.  Yahoo has been stagnating for a number of years and sometimes a drastic change via intentional, brute force disruption is what’s needed to turn an organization around.

Only time will tell if Marissa’s tactics will work but one thing that isn’t up for debate is that she’s doing something to intentionally change the culture to make Yahoo more relevant.  In today’s complex organizations, leaders make decisions based on their experience and intuition and it takes courage.    There’s no best practice or tactic that will guarantee success.   Of course that doesn’t stop the media from picking out studies and examples of why this tactic will destroy Yahoo.  To me, it has less to do with the issue and more to do with people’s biases.  A tactic like this generates a violent emotional reaction so naturally people opposed to it will dig up information about why it won’t work and claim that as the truth.

Maybe the bell curve tactic will spark motivation with the employees who were working hard to get things back on track and who were frustrated with the stagnation.  Sure people will leave, every organizational shakeup results in attrition.  The employees that believe in what Yahoo is doing will stick around.

Either way, its going to take years before we see the effects of these decisions.  The problem is the business world want results NOW and unfortunately there is no quick fix to save a floundering organization.

I admire her for kicking the beehive, someone needed to do it.