The Boston based AI division of an Nasdaq traded company acquired a start up based in Paris and Tel Aviv. Due to faulty due diligence, the decision to retain the founders of the start up as joint CTO’s (chief technology officers) was abandoned and they were asked to leave the company. As a result, a massive rupture of trust occurred between Boston HQ and the brain power in France and Tel Aviv.
Marvin Duvalier was hired to integrate the acquired start up into HQ. Marvin had perfect credentials: he had vast experience in M&A activity, he spoke English and French as native languages, his wife is Israeli so he had an amazing understanding of Hebrew, although he could not speak well. He also had vast domain expertise in AI.
Two months after he was hired, Boston acquired another start up in Moscow, which had competed with the French Israeli start up. Marvin was tasked with “putting this all together into one working unit”.
Six months into his role, Marvin is seen as a “failure”. In his initial performance review, he was told that he was seen as untrustworthy, manipulative and a professional bull-shitter, trying to please all of the people all of the time.
Marvin was asked to hire a coach, to hone his trust building skills. Marvin hired a coach as requested, and immediately started looking for a job, which he found after two months.
“Those fuckers in HQ make decisions based on excel sheets, faulty due diligence, and revenue scenarios crunched out by hacks, and then assign me a coach!”, he told the recruiter who found him his next job.
The Head of Business Development who recommended these failed acquisitions and the CEO of the AI unit, are very close friends from their days in university. Three years down the road, the AI Boston based Business Unit’s entire management team was replaced. Moscow was closed down; the French team could not be downsized due to labour law and drained huge financial resources. In Tel Aviv’s hot high tech market, the company got a bad name and talent walked out. It was a veritable disaster, which the coach did not prevent.
Coaching is often used to frame individuals as “guilty” of individual incompetence, thus evading focusing attention on the real system problems.