Interim Management Lessons Learned from the Fall of Theranos

Interim managementInterim management lessons learnt from the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her once $9 billion company Theranos.

In June 2014, Elizabeth Holmes was on the cover of Fortune magazine hailed as the world’s next Steve Jobs and the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire. With her finger prick lab-testing technology, she was revolutionizing healthcare and was a success story to inspire generations.

Five years later, her net worth is at zero, is facing several lawsuits for fraud and she is considered Silicon Valley’s greatest disaster.

Be transparent

The fear of sharing trade secrets is a legitimate one. But hiding from regulatory authorities is not good for the public, your product and the overall reputation of your company. Be as transparent as you can when sharing information about how your company does what it does best.

Leaders that don’t hide are more trusted both in and outside the company. Employees that can trust their CEO and other C-Suite members are motivated to work harder. Likewise, customers are more trusting of corporations that are forthcoming with information.

Don’t fake it

There’s a common phrase that is abound in Silicon Valley: Fake it until you make it. While that might work in some situations like faking confidence at a speaker event, but it is not ok in places where the truth matters like an investor meeting or a press interview.

Be honest in your work and the results will speak for themselves.

Interim Management Lessons: Don’t rush to market

In the rush to beat competitors to market, you run the risk of delivering an ineffective and lousy product. Not only will you quickly lose that initial market share you captured, but you also risk damaging your company’s reputation. Elizabeth Holmes was making mega-million deals with Walgreens and other big investors even though her product couldn’t work as promised. In the end, the limitations of her product, company and gross mismanagement caught up with her.

 

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