"Doing What Matters" - or Not
With a book backlog that's around 13 feet high, I'm always looking for books to knock off the reading list. Thanks the The Boston Globe's Steve Bailey, I'll be able to scratch Jim Kilts' Doing What Matters off of mine. (Not that I'm a big fan of puff-ographies to begin with, especially of the business variety. Too much "and then I boldly made the brilliant trillion dollar decision on the back of a cocktail napkin, then golfed 18 holes with the Sultan of Brunei" and too little "I so lucked into this.")
Bailey characterizes the Kilts' bio as "your standard CEO how-to manual, written in the standard quick-read style, full of management do's and don'ts and harrowing corporate war stories." I'm yawning already.
For those who don't follow the ups and downs of the Boston business community as closely as does Steve Bailey, Jim Kilts was the Gillette CEO who masterminded the company's sell-off to Procter & Gamble.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. In the Age of Wal-Mart, bigger = better. Economies of scale. Lower prices for everyone. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
But Gillette was one of the few remaining household-word companies actually born, raised, and HQ'd in Boston, so seeing them sucked into P&G's maw was not exactly happy-making for us locals.
Kilts also raised eyebrows - and not just locally - with the $165 million he managed to pocket on Gillette's sale. That oughta pay for a lot of close shaves for Mr. Kilts. (Talk about looking and feeling sharp, as Gillette's ancient ads had it.)
Kilts is/was by most accounts a brilliant exec. (Bailey pegs him as "a rock star of the consumer products business, having revived Gillette, Nabisco, and Kraft.")
And in the circles Kilts and other "rock star" CEOs operate in, $165 million, while a decent payday, is not an insane payday.
But what galls Steve Bailey is Kilts' characterizing Gillette employees as "the biggest beneficiaries" of the P&G deal.
For starters, Bailey points our that Kilts cut 6,500 positions at Gillette during his tenure there. So from the get go, there are fewer employees who are still around to enjoy being "the biggest beneficiaries". Then there are the additional 6,000 folks that P&G will likely give the heave-ho as a result of the "merger."
But according to Kilts:
"'Gillette employees would become part of an organization that valued people, treated them well, and placed their development and growth as one of the company's highest priorities."
Okay. I haven't read the book. For all I know, Kilts had a lot to say about the 6,500 + 6,000 formerly-employed Gilletters. Maybe he at least offers a bit of lip-gloss service about the folks who lost their jobs, and how painful it is to make decisions that result in such collosal pain to others.
But to characterize Gillette employees as the "biggest beneficiaries" of the sell-out to P&G? What about the 6,500 employees who got the heave-ho?
Oh, I see, they're no longer employees, they're ex-employees.
What a difference and "ex" makes.