Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Forced Retirement

A New York Times article (Leaving Corporate Live at 60 by Paul B Brown) discussed the advantages of CEOs retiring at 60 or thereabouts. According to the article while we might be loosing a great resource, we are making way for fresh ideas.

This resonated with me because I have seen what I call the “prophet” syndrome. This is where a person has a new idea, but in order to get it accepted they have to become an evangelist. During the process of getting their new idea accepted, they have to fight so hard that any question of it becomes a personal attack.

Eventually the new idea the “prophet” had years ago is ready to be replaced by the next new idea, but the former rebel is now fighting change. Giving up the old idea can be too hard for some when they’ve spent a lifetime fighting to gain acceptance for it. Those are the people who need to move aside for the next generation of ideas.

One problem I have also seen is that many of the new ideas are old ideas that the less practically experienced person just discovered. This is where the “older” or more experienced person need to educate the “younger” worker. The biggest problem is that it gets hard to separate the person who is saying “we tried that years ago and it didn’t work because ..” and the person who is just fighting a new idea.

Are the advantages of replacing senior managers outweighed by the advantages of not falling over the same rocks in the road that we fell over before? Once again, no single answer. It depends on the individual senior manager.

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