Companies will make poor decisions, and CEO’s are there to guide companies through those mistakes. We associate a brand with the actions, and failures, of their CEO. Last week, we debated the latest in the Netflix saga. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced the elimination of Qwikster. After numerous weeks dealing with frustrated consumers over price hikes and backlash regarding the separation of streaming and DVD services, Hastings issued an official apology- prompting more backlash.
This led us to question, should consumer response drive corporate decision in our #NetflixDebate. Our hour debate tackled that question and even adjusted course slightly. Check out our highlights:
1. Qwikster was a bad decision, but Hastings’ handling of the situation did not aide Netflix.
Most agreed the separation of the services was a poor decision, and bad PR follows bad decisions. However, it was the actions of Netflix’s CEO that did more harm. Companies should be quick to apologize and admit faults but should also think through corporate policy prior to implementing.
2. CEO’s should be willing to take risks to lead, and sometimes change is unsettling for consumers.
CEO’s should lead companies through changes in both the economy and culture. However, while changes may be unsettling or hard for consumers, a CEO’s PR skills are imperative for helping lead consumers through these changes. Furthermore, as a leader, listening needs to be balanced with strong leadership. Understanding what consumers are expressing is important, but change and criticism are inevitable. Leaders need to withstand that pressure.
3. Make smart apologies.
Know when to apologize and know when your company understands the industry better than the consumer. Keep it simple; keep it authentic; and keep it focused to the core of your company. Harvard Business Review provides a great review on how businesses can learn how to do this better.
Overall, the consensus was that Hastings buckled too early and should have used this opportunity to highlight his leadership abilities. The future of his role at Netflix- and public perception- are still uncertain.
Thanks to all who shared your opinion, and keep adding to the discussion below! Let us know if you have a topic you’d like to debate by sharing here or at #SMWDebates.