Maybe! the crisis! at Yahoo! is about innovation! not working! at home!


Consider the flack new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer experienced when, characterized as the Wicked Witch of the West, she ordered all her employees back to the office. No more working from home.

Hey, tough cookies, they call it work.

Charlie Warner, writing on mediabizbloggers.com has an interesting take on the criticism she received: It’s not justified.

Facts — rare in such cases — showed that people supposedly working at home only got it half right, the “at home,” part. They weren’t signing on, they weren’t working. [Thanks to our Chief Innovator, Eric Mower, for sending Warner’s blog.]

One reason, mentioned in several blog posts and articles, was that Mayer’s decision was not based on the notion that “this is the way it’s always been done” or gut feel, which is typical thinking in most legacy media companies, but was based on hard data.

Apparently, Mayer looked at data that indicated telecommuters were not logging into the Yahoo VPN and recognized that a large number of the WFH (Work From Home) people were not fully engaged or not productive.

Another reason I believe Mayer’s decision was right is not one that was indicated (certainly not stressed) in the blog posts and articles I read, and that reason is Yahoo’s desperate need for innovation. And, as pointed out in many books, articles, and research studies, innovation occurs when people mix with other people.

Anyone who’s read even a smattering of offerings about innovation and growth knows this is true. The Steves, Jobs and Woz at Apple, Jobs and Pixar; Bell Labs in the day; Kodak, at one time. Heck, NASA.

The great ideas don’t really drop like Newton’s apple, they come from human interaction, the multiplying effect of ideas zinging around a room, stimulating thought and creativity. Humans challenge each other to greatness.

Nothing compares, and certainly not when people are in their pajamas in their kitchens with one hand on a crib, the other holding a sandwich and the laptop screen covered with bubbles.

After all the jerking knees stop and Mayer gets a chance to put her ideas to work, it will be interesting to see what Yahoo! generates for itself. It can be done, even in the hyper-competitive tech world. BlackBerry is re-inventing itself with a new phone, and Samsung’s Galaxy has a few dunks on the iPhone. It can be done.

Maybe Yahoo!’s crisis has more to do with lack of innovation than it does about where people work.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

Mayer knows she has to get Yahoo! moving again.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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2 Responses to Maybe! the crisis! at Yahoo! is about innovation! not working! at home!

  1. Rick Lyke says:

    Woody Allen was right: 80% of success is just showing up (at the office).

    Rick Lyke, APR I Senior Partner
    PUBLIC RELATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

    EMA I ERIC MOWER + ASSOCIATES
    1001 Morehead Square Dr., Fifth Floor, Charlotte, NC 28203
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  2. Pingback: What comes first? Working from home or having a company to work for? | newmomsshop

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