How any large company can blow it.

Fred Vogelstein’s article in Wired, How Yahoo Blew It, is a must read. It remains to be seen whether Yahoo can recover from it’s various mess ups, very pithily called a “clusterfuck” by a Yahoo insider. I hope they do recover because we need more than one strong player in search.

But it is a must read because the mistakes Yahoo made could be made by any large company. Endless meetings, inability to actually get stuff done, begging thirty different constituents to approve a project that is critical, idiots with little power exercising it to protect their own turf, people thinking of their groups first – the company second, endless presentations on the same topic… I could go on and on.

So, how do you get around this? I think the issue here is one of prioritization. Why didn’t Semel tell everyone that Panama was the most important project for the company? Why did the Panama team have to beg the homepage team to test placement?

In every company’s life, there will be a few moments where they must win – must be first to market, must get things done quickly with a great product. It is the CEO’s job to be able to identify these situations (Semel seems to have) and then ensure that execution is not bogged down due to the size and politics of the company (he clearly failed here). Even after Weiner was put in charge, there seem to have been several hurdles. The project should have been rammed through like everyone’s life depended on it.

But, culture and politics are very hard to fix. And in the end, that may be the reason they don’t recover.

Link via: Brad Feld