What Only the CEO Can Do

(by Alan George “A.G.” Lafley – executive chairman of Procter & Gamble)

I became Procter & Gamble’s CEO in June 2000, in the midst of a crisis. On March 7 of that year the company had announced that it would not meet its projected third-quarter earnings, and the stock price plummeted from $86 to $60 in one day, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a 374-point decline.

The price dropped another 11% during the week my appointment was announced. A number of factors had contributed to the mess we were in, chief among them an overly ambitious organizational transformation in which we tried to change too much too fast and which distracted us from running the everyday business with excellence. But our biggest problem in the summer of 2000 was not the loss of $85 billion in market capitalization. It was a crisis of confidence. Many of P&G’s leaders had retreated to their bunkers. Business units were blaming headquarters for poor results, and headquarters was blaming the units. Investors and financial analysts were surprised and angry. Employees were calling for heads to roll. Retirees, whose profit-sharing nest eggs had been cut in half, were even angrier.

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