Loic Le Meur is the founder and CEO of Seesmic: a firm providing web and desktop applications for participating in social media like Twitter, Facebook, and video conversation. I had the pleasure of attending his May presentation to the the Bay Area CIO IT Executives Meetup Group. During the Q&A (46:45 in the video) he related a story of how he came to his strong rule of not criticizing his competition. I saw his story as an example of someone practicing TOP (technology, organizations, people) Management. Video of Loic's Presentation He had founded the first shared web hosting company in France (late 1990s). One weekend he opened the paper to find that the major teleco had introduced an identical product, using a virtually identical ad image (Loic had a Scottish castle to demonstrate "rock solid" hosting -- the telco had a Spanish castle). He saw three options: 1. Sue the teleco -- not a great idea given the telco would have tons of lawyers on staff, he was just a start-up; 2. Criticize the telco in the press and around town; or 3. Invite them to lunch. He went with option three. He called the manager in charge and welcomed him to the shared web hosting space. He also complimented him on the ad and copy. During the resulting lunch they had a nice conversation and Loic and suggested that they do something together in the future. Two weeks later the telco acquired Loic's firm for enough money to buy the nice French house (1999 tech acquisition). I see this as an example of Loic's systems savvy and TOP Management skills. Clearly he understands the technologies involved and the strategic opportunities. He also understands the organizational realities, and how people react to criticism versus compliments. Lunch was a way to bring the technology, organization, and people of the situation together. Loic and his company, Seesmic, continue with this same approach. I've written a prior post on Loic's IdeasProject interview "Sharing Changes Everything," and you can also see this approach in the information posted on the Seesmic blog:
Seesmic: For the Community; By the Community Instead of operating in “stealth mode”, Loic is creating Seesmic in the open, with the help and guidance of the Seesmic community at large. At Loic.tv, he provides a daily video show on his thoughts, experiences and decisions in crafting the business. New hires, the company’s logo, office furniture selection and more are collaborative efforts with Seesmic’s virtual community. The show is followed by more than 5,000 people a day.As always, my colleagues and I are looking for additional examples of managers who have systems savvy and TOP Management skills. We'd love to do interviews or would appreciate links to case studies. Please feel free to contact me directly via the comments section here or via email: t at terrigriffith.com.