Public failure

Most of us have the luxury of making our mistakes very intimately and quietly. NBC on the other hand, has made their mistakes very publicly. In a move that surprised many, they want to move Jay Leno back to late night TV while at the same time trying to compromise with their current late night TV star, Conan O'brien. This whole episode is like a bad soap opera–spend 5 years courting and promising the crown to one guy (O'brien) so that he will stick around, then taking the leader in late night TV (Leno) and moving him into primetime while giving the other guy the show that had been promised to him for 5 years, then the primetime show bombs so they now want to split the old timeslot to allow these guys to share, while in fact trying to move the Tonight Show into the next morning. Sounds like a brilliant move.

Remember this lesson: except for the rare (and lucky!) occasions, you can't have it both ways. You need to pick your horse and run with it. This applies to life and to business. NBC will end up keeping one or both of these late night starts, but they are both coming out of this ordeal angry at the company they work for. This would not make me too comfortable if I was an executive at NBC–I have just angered two of my stars. These employees are prime candidates for jumping ship to one of my competitors. If Conan and Leno really wanted to make a splash, they would both leave. That would really get the message across!


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