The Smart Talk Trap

The Smart Talk Trap

Harvard Business Review. May
1999, Pages 135-142
  • An international metals and oil company was posting terrible numbers—sales and profits were down, as was share price. The company’s senior executives were mortified by the results; they knew major changes in strategy and operations were imperative. Their response: to spend at least half their time in darkened rooms, watching elaborate presentations about the company’s performance.
  • Faced with a worrisomely slow time-to-market for its new products, a large furniture company conducted a careful benchmarking study. The results were clear: a project-based organizational structure would help solve the problem. But more than a year later, the company had not instituted a single change. Senior executives, although uniformly supportive of the idea of restructuring the organization, were still discussing it in meetings that ended with…decisions to have more meetings.