Is Harry Labana the new “Anastasia”? **

Recently a company that I am all too familiar with {AppSense} made some drastic, albeit very necessary, but drastic moves none the less. In one felled swoop AppSense fired several members of their Executive Leadership team. Now, I am not saying this is unprecedented but I cannot recall off top of head a company that cleaned house like that in a long time.

The last instance I can recall involved Al Capone.

When the CEO gets “released” this is a significant change. I’ve been at that company, been down that road. This pulled trigger sends a ripple through not just the entire organization but through the market. In a public domain this can have both a negative and in some cases a positive effect on the company’s valuation. But as an employee, I can tell you we walked around like children of the corn. Emotionless expressions on our face and a stunned silence in what was normally a very busy break room.

“Who is in the corner office?” In fact the proverbial corner office became somewhat of a dark, empty reminder of the man who once was CEO. A silent imaginary memorial.

When the CMO gets fired, it is less of an impact. Still an impact but, in the words of Monty Python in “The Holy Grail”, “tis but a scratch”. Those of us who reported to the CMO are significantly impacted. Who do we report to now? What is our charter? More importantly, who’s next? The rest of the organization is negatively impacted but to a much less degree. Sales guys call and try to get the dirt. The CEO assures the rest of the team that it was necessary but they themselves are all doing a great job and are safe. And then he runs the marketing org while a search for a new CMO kicks off.

The VP of Business Development, well these guys get fired like a police officer’s department issued revolver. Every Friday, necessary or not just for fun and practice at the range. These guys are tirelessly building relationships and facilitating sales on the backend. But their efforts are rarely raised high like the super bowl trophy. So they are perceived as an easy target. In this case it can be several days until the word spreads. And even then it is more of a “Hey. Did you hear…”.

This is why I have to reflect back and ask myself, “Is Harry Labana just lucky he dodged the bullet or is he a visionary who saw this massacre coming 8 months ago?”

I would argue the latter.

So, let the speculation begin. Let the rumor mill commence. We will never hear from the ones affected for sure and by all accounts we shouldn’t.

I have to ask myself (and you) from a strategic point of view, “why such a drastic move? Why now?”

** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchess_Anastasia_Nikolaevna_of_Russia