Sunday, October 14, 2007

Exec 2.0 needed

Lots of insightful comments from my first post. Some points that especially hit home with me:

- Leverage the massive AOL community & infrastructure with new product offerings
- Reinvigorate product development by making longer term investments and clarifying ownership
- Be transparent to overcome the "fiefdom" mentality of the past
- A strong vision is desperately needed from our executive corps

To the first point, I remember seeing a presentation from the early days that outlined a business plan for an online auction service -- an eBay before eBay. How many other employee generated idea opportunities have been squandered? There are still interesting ideas generated from engineers, architects, product managers and middle level management circulating around AOL that aren't getting heard.

We need a company forum to present and evaluate ideas internally.

To the last point, I'll add that AOL needs leaders that also build a strong corporate community vision. I believe the leadership issue is actually the one that needs to be corrected first. You have heard of Web 1.0 and 2.0, but what about Manager 1.0 and 2.0? Here's a detailed explanation and a boat load of comments:
Creating Passionate Users: Manager 2.0

I love that Manager 1.0 vs 2.0 comparison graphic. Can we post that on Employee Central? Make it part of GOALign?

All of those are instructive to our current management throughout the org. But to further the point, AOL now needs state-of-the-art C level leadership to become vibrant again.

Executive 2.0 types, you might call them. Here are a few comparisons:

1.0: Is the smartest guy in any room
2.0: Understands the power of group intelligence is superior to any individual

1:0: Ignores or ridicules those that disagree
2:0: Keeps the right to make the final decision, but honestly considers contrary lines of thought

1:0: Openly criticizes former leadership, products and strategies
2:0: Realizes nothing is ever black and white, and takes the high road

1:0: Non-communicative with employee base
2:0: Realizes that transparency is necessary for employee morale

1.0: Holds important information secret only at highest levels
2.0: Shares all that is profitable, realizing that information most often gets out anyways

1:0: Sets draconian deadlines for complete product revisions
2.0: Builds a sustainable culture of incremental product improvement

1.0: Burns out the teams doing the work
2.0: Builds an environment where people work hard, but still have quality of life

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Welcome to the AOL Employee Community Blog!

First, I am a long time AOL employee. I've seen good times and bad... enough to fill a book. And like many of you, although I have my share of bad days, I still care about this company and about the talented people who make the business work day after day.

Reading the posts and comments on Alley Insider and ValleyWag has shown me varied things about my fellow employees. We are collectively thoughtful, funny, angry, passionate, dedicated, logical, smart, emotional and sometimes just totally pissed off.

The disconnect between top management and the folks in the trenches just seems to be getting larger.

We need somewhere to express our thoughts and allow ideas to shape without constraint.

I humbly offer this blog as a forum for problem discussion, venting and thoughtful reflection by a community that I know well and respect, AOL employees.

Here's the first issue I'll offer to the group for comment: the current top management seem to be Manager 1.0 types with: command and control, dictated policies, secrecy, emphasis on "teamwork" but allowing competitive internal processes that undermine it,
and imposing deadlines on those who do the work by those who do not.

This will hardly fly in a typical 21st century company, much less one that is filled with intelligent, skilled, digital savvy employees. My question: IS THERE HOPE?

Can we marshal our collective resources and get through to the powers that be? Can they get over the "top down only" mentality and realize that there is a vast group intelligence waiting to be tapped? Can R&R change to truly realize that they have an incredible resource (the AOL employee community) that can be mobilized to innovate, develop and execute the vision of a vibrant company?