Yesterday an Oracle story broke big-time, and it wasn’t about Fusion application delivery dates, pricing, or how much work it would take to get from EBS or PeopleSoft HCM to Fusion HCM apps. It also wasn’t about Oracle giving its installed base a break on their maintenance fees or committing to keep most of Sun’s workforce. More on all of that in future two-handed posts. Yesterday’s Oracle news was very sad indeed for Charles Phillip’s wife and children (child?) but perhaps it was good news for Safra Catz . With a famously stealth succession plan in the event of Mr. Ellison’s departure, disability, or misadventure, it can’t help Charles’ prospects that he’s looking like three kinds of public fool, and that’s before you even get to the morality, parenting, or trust-worthiness issues that his extramarital behavior engenders.
When the whole, truly sleazy Tiger Woods bottom fishing sex scandal broke, I took notice not out of any interest in big $$ sports or the eternally disappointing character of so many star players but rather because Accenture, that paragon of propriety, leader of all things systems related, and arbiter of human capital consulting, had placed so large and misguided a bet on having Tiger Woods as their sole marketing story about all that is good in human performance. For me, the biggest questions were why Tiger’s wife hadn’t done a whole lot more damage to his person and why Accenture hadn’t dumped Tiger at the very first sign — and there were plenty of them before the news broke — that their main man wasn’t the type of human performance symbol with which they should be associated.
So now we come to Charles Phillips, a very smart and capable executive, or so we thought. If you were on the Board of Oracle, is this the behavior you’d like to see in your co-President? Does it show the mature judgement, the effective staffing decisions, the conflict resolution skills, the long-range planning and risk management capabilities etc. that we look for (hope for?) in executives? But there are lessons here for all of us, ones that my father taught me when I was too young to understand them:
- You are judged by the company you keep.
- Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want to see plastered across the pages of the New York Times.
- Think before you speak or write.
In this always on/always watching/no more privacy era, for better or for worse, my father’s advice is just as relevant, even more so, than it was in 1955. I miss him every day, and he’d be proud to know that his advice continues to guide me — and now it will guide all of you.