Only as good as your last job

I wonder sometimes if some people, or their line of work, are indeed damage proof. This week, the JJ Abrams penned TV series LOST just finished its six year run with a truly baffling finale. Sven Goran Erickson is managing the Ivory Coast at this summer’s 2010 World Cup despite poor recent return from in his England and Mexico roles. And Adam Crozier has started his tenure at ITV after controversial stints in charge of The FA and The Post Office.

Three guys, seemingly worlds apart, are to me linked by at least one recognisable trait. The ability to continually create for themselves significant career opportunities despite disappointing in previous roles.

Allow me to elaborate. JJ Abrams came to prominence as the creator of a TV spy series called Alias. After 5 long seaons, it adopted a bizarre season ending storyline around a medieval inventor who created an apocolyptic device and spread the pieces to the corners of the earth. A race against time between good and evil ensued. He then created Lost which started out as a desert island plane crash, quickly turned sci-fi then time travel and in its conclusion, was maybe just one character’s dream. I’m still undecided – which is the problem. In between there was the film Cloverfied, a Godzilla meets Blair Witch experiment set in New York and filmed on handy cams. All great ideas that sucked the public in, but in the final analysis ultimately failed to live up to billing. But what happens? He gets the Star Trek reboot and other projects in the offing, despite leaving scores of fans continually frustrated.

Sven. Tremendous club manager in his native Sweden and Italy. Took the England football job and with the best group of players in a generation failed to get beyond the quarter finals. Tactially inept and never able to drop underperforming stars, this didn’t stop him picking up subsequent high profile and high salary jobs with Manchester City, Mexico (with little overall success) and now the Ivory Coast in a World Cup year.

Crozier. Did little to improve grassroots football in the UK during his time at The FA, failed to modernise The Post Office or make it more effective and efficient, he now has the opportunity to spearhead the revival of the country’s second largest TV station with established shows and talent like Ant n Dec and Simon Cowell locked in.

I might be harsh but it seems to me that short term box office seems to win out over long term secure revenue generation. In business, stakeholders of all kinds need to be satisfied and taking the ‘box office’ approach could be the quickest road to ruin. Customers expect more and can afford to be more selective.

So it seems odd to me that there appears to be, in some ares of business, an ignorance of the theory that you are only as good as your last job.

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