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Founder-CEO Succession at Wily Technology Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
707 775 Words (2 Pages) Noam Wasserman, Henry McCance Harvard Business School : 805150
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Lew Cirne has been a good CEO as he has brought the company to the stature that it is today, without getting his ego involved in the way. He has taken decisions, even sacrificing his important positions to keep the company running. It does not seem correct that at this critical juncture, he raises a concern that he wants to stay the CEO. Lew was fine with the post of Chairman and giving away the title of CEO. Hence, he should now only fight for the Chairman’s position. Given the whole hiring process, it seems that Richard Williams wants complete control of the company, and he fears for his authority while Cirne stays as the Chairman of the company.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. Has Lew Cirne been a good CEO so far, should he defend himself & fight to remain CEO? As Lew Cirne, why would Richard Williams want to replace you as Chairman?

  2. What are the pros and cons of the approach by Wily’s Board to find a new CEO? As David Strohm, if Lew rejects Richard Williams’ demand and threatens to leave Wily, what would you do?

  3. Would you consider Lew Cirne as a high-flying founder, please argue why he is (not). Has he adopted a weak or a strong board? Please elaborate.  

  4. Kets de Vries’ clinical approach to management pays attention to the inner theatre and inner script of leaders. What is meant by this and apply these two notions to the Wily case?

  5. Is the Founder’s Rich or King dilemma (Wasserman article) relevant for understanding the Wily case and the biotechnology and healthcare sectors (as exhibited in the Williams/Duncan/Ginter article).

Founder CEO Succession at Wily Technology Case Analysis

What are the pros and cons of the approach by Wily’s Board to find a new CEO? As David Strohm, if Lew rejects Richard Williams’ demand and threatens to leave Wily, what would you do?

The pros of the approach are that the Board has not hurriedly taken a decision for the all-important position of CEO. It has exhausted quite some options to try get the most suitable candidate on board for the position. However, the Board should have also received resumes from people outside its business network also. This would have brought in more divergence to the pool of candidates. On the other hand, as David Strohm, I would be forced to negotiate and communicate with Richard Williams if Lew threatens to leave. This is because the founder of the company leaving this way would bring a lot of embarrassment to the company. It would be more acceptable to the company to bring down the expectations of Richard Williams.

 

Would you consider Lew Cirne as a high-flying founder, please argue why he is (not). Has he adopted a weak or a strong board? Please elaborate.

Lew Cirne has been a humble founder for most of his tenure. Although he started the company aggressively, over the years he has not remained a person of high-flying personality. He has been concerned about the company’s future and its rightful and capable successors. He has taken the company slow and steady over the years and built a reputation. Similarly, the board of Wiley has also remained more fragile over the years and not made instant decisions. Several decisions have been very calculated and time consuming. Given the company’s revenue stream and standing in the market, Lew Cirne can be said to have adopted a weak board which could have led to his unfavourable support.

 

Kets de Vries’ clinical approach to management pays attention to the inner theatre and inner script of leaders. What is meant by this and apply these two notions to the Wily case?

The inner theatre and inner script of leaders refers to their gut feeling, mindset and as to what’s cooking inside them. Hence, the clinical approach to management encourages company diagnosis and digging deep into the management’s hearts to understand the various complexities of the organizational set up. The inner theatre and script, therefore, are the internal motivations and objectives of the management (or the CEO) which need to be understood to make decisions for the company. Applying these notions to the Wily case, it is observed that both Richard Willams and Lew Cirne have their inner theatre and script which is making them take their own paths. Richard’s gut feeling says he should take control away from the founder while for Lew, the notion is that he remaining the Chairman is in the best interests of the company.

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