I love the TV show Madmen. In addition to the great clothes, Don Draper’s good looks, and three martini lunches, it is just so cleverly written. A recent storyline stuck with me. The executive in charge of “Beans” at the Heinz Food Company did not want the executive in charge of “Ketchup” to use the Madmen Ad Agency. He did not want another product line to see the increase in revenue his Beans product line had seen. While this was really good for his career, it was not good for Heinz’s bottom line. It got me thinking: Is competition among the executive team healthy for the overall business?
Executive competition is very common. I’ve seen it many times in my career. For example, Larry Ellison is well known for creating competitive situations among his executive team. When I was at Oracle, there were two senior executives that were so competitive, they could not be in the same room together. I had to plan meeting agendas so that they did not have to be present at the same time.
While individual competition might push certain individuals to perform at their best, when does too much competition negatively impact the company?
I joined Domo, a start-up, a little over a year ago. One thing I love about the company is that every executive truly wants to see the other succeed. While this might be because of the caliber of the executive team, I also think it has a lot to do with the fact that we all want our stock options to be worth a lot – this only happens if we all are amazingly successful at our roles. Is executive competition tied to the stage or size of the company?
What is the “right” level of competition within a company?