Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Simulating an Activist Investor

As I read the lengthy Wall Street Journal article about how Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld has coped with two major activist investors, I was reminded of some thoughts I heard from a CEO recently.  When I gave a leadership talk recently to a group of executives in Chicago, I had the opportunity to listen to a Fortune 500 CEO address the group before I spoke.  He offered a terrific piece of advice for these executives.   One person asked him whether his firm had dealt with any activist investors pushing for strategic and financial changes.   The CEO responded that he had not faced that issue.  However, he described how his management team asked itself a simple question each quarter:  If an activist investor took a substantial stake in our firm, what changes would they advocate?  The team then discussed that question at length each quarter, and it determined which changes might actually make sense for the firm.  Then it made those alterations to the organization's strategy in a proactive manner.  The CEO felt that this proactive approach had helped the firm avoid a confrontation with an activist investor.   I think the technique sounds like a very effective way to not only avoid a battle with an outside investor, but it helps executives take a fresh look at their strategy.  It asks the executives to put themselves in the shoes of an outsider and to consider how someone external to the team would view the strategy. That is a very worthwhile exercise for all management teams.  


Unknown said...

Discussing your company's vulnerabilities should be as relevant a threat to an executing strategy already in motion and incorporated with a watchful eye on any disruptive innovations on the horizon. Looking "as forward" as the AI is a good strategic thought process, yes?

afu said...

good strategic thought process,