Lessons from Nortel:

nortel-trialFrom Financial Post:

11 lessons from Nortel’s failure (from the case study by University of Ottawa):

• Nortel tried to acquire companies without the processes or culture necessary to integrate them;

• Nortel did not have the appropriate depth and capability to gather reliable external and internal information in order to make timely and informed decisions following the mid-1990s restructuring and dismantling of Bell-Northern Research, the company’s research subsidiary;

• Nortel had people on the technology side who could design leading-edge technology solutions and people on the sales side who understood the customers’ needs. Yet, in restructuring for revenue growth, the company lost this advantage;

• After Roth was installed as chief executive, R & D staff believed management rarely listened to them and that, when they did, they did not appear to understand;

• In winding up BNR, Nortel effectively lost the ability to see and understand longer-term needs;

• From at least the mid-1990s through to the bankruptcy filing in 2009, Nortel’s business operations rarely earned profits. The resulting financial weakness made Nortel more vulnerable to external shocks;

• Nortel’s internal information systems could not provide management or the board with appropriate and timely information;

• Nortel’s customers in 2002 began examining Nortel’s financial statements more closely and discovered a company with a very weak financial position;

• Nortel’s sense of pride was a strength in the early days but it later escalated into hubris;

• From 2001 to 2006, Nortel’s board and senior management were more focused on dealing with restatements and investigations than trying to satisfy customers’ needs and commercialize new products; and

• In 2002, Nortel should have sold off business units to generate cash and dissipate growing doubts about its survival. Full article…

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