Signs of a weirdly run company: Really, OCLC?

http://www.oclc.org/news/releases/2012/201239.htm

The OCLC Board of Trustees has concluded that rather than moving forward with the appointment of Jack B. Blount as its President and CEO, it is in the best interest of OCLC to have Jay Jordan continue serving in these capacities. Mr. Jordan has agreed to postpone his retirement to continue leading OCLC.

Okay, I can understand announcing your CEO’s retirement (which OCLC did at least a year ago), and then reversing it, saying nevermind.  I could understand that, although all by itself it would be odd, you usually don’t get “takebacks” on announcing a retirement when you’re a CEO  — but hey, circumstances change, things happen, be “agile” sure, I could understand announcing a retirement and then a few months later announcing it won’t take place after all.

But to not only announce retirement, but to go through the candidate search/selection process to choose a new CEO, and then to actually announce the name of that new CEO…. and then two weeks later, announce, nevermind, we’re sticking with the current CEO indefinitely?

Really? At first I thought this was somehow a joke or malicious hack, not real information from OCLC, when I got it in email. But apparently not?

This does not give one confidence that OCLC is a company that knows what it’s doing and has sane and sober governance and administration. It makes OCLC instead seem like a chicken with it’s head cut off still running around randomly in its last moments of animation. Or a communist banana republic with a president-for-life, which has lost the support of it’s superpower patron and isn’t sure how it’s going to survive.

I can only assume there was some sort of really bizarre political battle internal to OCLC, and someone’s been sent to the metaphorical firing squad in a last minute coup d’etat.

OCLC, you’ve been trying for a while to show us that you’re not scared of the future, you understand how you need to change to meet the future and are confidently and carefully executing a strategic plan to do so — your attempts to make us think you know what you’re doing and have things under control are not working. 

To spend a year on an executive search, to choose and announce the new CEO, and then the next day to say nevermind, our current one isn’t retiring at all after all!  Really???  This is not how a sanely run large corporation works, whether or not it’s a cooperative.    Surely folks at OCLC know how this makes them look; I can’t even imagine what confidential secret political battles led them to do it anyway.

Board Chair Larry Alford said, “The Board of Trustees has complete confidence in the global management team and the 1,250 employees, who are working diligently to serve libraries around the world and fulfill OCLC’s mission and goals.”

I guess it’s good someone‘s got complete confidence here, you guys might not have a lot of company at this point.

I wonder what this has got to do with or what impact it has on OCLC’s Record Use Policy discussions and contemplating something closer to open access use. I heard from someone a few weeks ago that OCLC was just about to take some sort of action there; and then heard from someone just a few days ago that, no, wait, something else is going on, we’re not sure what.  At the moment, I can’t even find any announcements/links discussing the imminent possibility of a worldcat records use policy that is more CC-like, but I know it’s something people have been talking about (on the members council or whatever?).

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3 Responses to Signs of a weirdly run company: Really, OCLC?

  1. Eric says:

    Jonathan, with respect to your questions about WorldCat I might suggest reading Richad Wallis’ post http://dataliberate.com/2012/06/oclc-worldcat-linked-data-release-significant-in-many-ways/ about OCLC’s release of WorldCat as Linked Data and a short report about a recent OCLC Global Council decision http://www.infodocket.com/2012/04/19/oclc-global-council-passes-resolution-advising-move-to-open-data-commons-attribution-license-odc-by/

  2. Tom says:

    Yeah, I think there’s a huge backstory to this that needs to be told – would you want to apply for the job at OCLC, or, alternatively, what would you think of their named candidate if he was applying for a position with your firm?

  3. jrochkind says:

    Okay you all, that’s enough (some comments deleted).

    Yes, I’ve got typos and apostrophe errors on my blog. if it offends you, don’t read it. If you complain about it in comments, I’ll probably leave your comment out of general laziness and lack of caring. But I might delete it if I feel like it. I don’t need grammatical defending in comments though.

    (Interestingly and bizarely, I believe that entire flamewar was actually one person arguing with themselves. Don’t you have something better to do than invent a flamewar over grammar on my blog?)

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