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The Peter Principle

Now, we don’t know the reasons here at all. And yet:

Former Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Iger is returning to the media company as CEO less than a year after he retired, a surprise appointment that comes as the entertainment company struggles to turn its streaming TV services into a profitable business.

Mr Iger, who retired last year after 15 years as chief executive, has agreed to serve as CEO for two more years, Disney said in a statement late on Sunday. He will replace Bob Chapek, who took over as Disney CEO in February 2020.

The change, a dramatic turn of events for the world’s largest media company, was effective immediately.

The Peter Principle says that everyone – eventually – gets promoted to their position of incompetence. The corollary is that all useful work is therefore done by those who have not been so promoted as yet.

OK. But the actual lesson on the PP is that you’ve still got to promote folk, because you do need the things done. But what do you do with those who meet their level of incompetence?

The answer being to be ruthless enough (there are varied ways of softening the blow, but the strike must still take place) to acknowledge when it’s happened and act when it has.

17 thoughts on “The Peter Principle”

  1. the entertainment company struggles to turn its streaming TV services into a profitable business.

    What they haven’t seemed to have grasped is that as the streaming industry gets fragmented the content gets divided between them so the competing firms don’t have enough content to make them attractive enough for customers to subscribe. When Netflix had masses of content I was happy to subscribe. Divide that out between three players and I’m not going to subscribe to all three: I’m probably not going to subscribe to one.

  2. Disney is in a mess.
    Due to its fanatical commitment to woke, its churning out loads of content that alienates its core fan base.

    The Star Wars movie franchise is dead, and Marvel phase 4 churned out a load of piss poor and significantly financially underperforming movies.

    As for its TV / streaming efforts, the She Hulk series absolutely plumbed new depths.

    As most of this happened on Igers previous watch, Im not holding my breath for this to improve.

  3. I thought that Bob Iger, now being brought back to replace Bob Chapek, originally stood down to free himself up for a possible run at the White House. Or was that Bob Eisner? So many Bobs.

  4. As most of this happened on Igers previous watch, Im not holding my breath for this to improve.

    Indeed, if he’s been gone less than a year, most/all that’s happening will have been planned under his watch. Maybe a confidence thing or the interim guy pissed of the wrong people?

  5. They should be demoted back to where they were good, but mostly they seem to be moved sideways into a sincere where they’re no use to anyone. Seems very wasteful.

  6. John: So many Bobs.

    This is like the old ‘Not the Nine-O’Clock News’ sketch:
    Made in Florida by Roberts.

  7. That’s the Peter solution. Demote back – but keep the higher wages and bennies of the position they were no good in. That way you encourage people to at least try, also they don’t try to hang on to the job where they’re no good. Inefficient at the individual level but works at the system.

  8. Flubber has it right on the failings of Disney and Andy F on the failings of streaming services more generally.

    I only subscribe to Amazon Prime, which I have mainly for the free delivery, and which I share with family members. Even with the recent price hike, that is still worthwhile, I think.

    I have bought the odd month of HBO Go Asia so I could watch particular shows, most recently House of the Dragon (error) but otherwise wouldn’t bother.

  9. Well, I used the Tesco clubcard deal to get three months of Disney plus free

    Once we have exhausted the non-woke content we won’t renew

  10. “keep the higher wages and bennies of the position they were no good’

    The German company where I worked had exactly this policy.

    Up and coming execs were sent somewhere hot to prove themselves. They returned from Bongobongoland and took a senior managerial position, if not in the Reich then at a major European or US subsidiary.

    Old duffers were moved to one of the head offices, given a nice office with big windows and a secretary and wheeled out to glad hand other similar old duffers in the customer base or politics.

    This worked fine, but alas many of the younger execs “went native” and engaged in corruption on a huge scale. China Station was especially notorious for it.

    In the early nineties they changed tack and started employing very clever Harvard graduatex who needless to say did not understand the business and bolloxed the whole thing up. It was effectivvely dead by 1997 but finally expired in 2010.

  11. Dennis, Septic to the Masses

    This may be a solution, and it may not. Remember, Bob Iger was the one who thought Bob Chapek being CEO was a good idea.

  12. I don’t think the Peter Principle applies here.

    Chapek was getting the job done – the transformation of Disney into a woke media production company specializing in pro-lgbt stuff.

    Which the board was all on board with until the stock price tanked.

    So they panick, want to change course, but you can’t do that without clearing house to get rid of the management inertia – a lot of higher ups at Disney have made their bones on woke, they’re gonna push back

  13. AndyF,

    I do think that Disney+ might be able to work because “Disney” is orientated around one segment of the market, which is family entertainment. Yes, they also own Miramax so could make a crossover of Star Wars, Toy Story, Frozen and Pulp Fiction, but essentially they do stuff aimed at kids. They have that particular niche. I can’t think of much that they don’t have that’s popular with kids.

    The problem with what other studios are doing is that they don’t have that. Warners, Paramount etc don’t have a strong identity. If there is to be fragmentation of streaming it should be along genre lines: horror, comedy, drama. That already exists, a bit, with channels like BFI online, TCM and Shudder.

  14. When we were nippers at primary school we were marched just before Xmas to a local “picture house” to watch some Disney schmalzfest or other. Accordingly I loathed Disney for years. Only their brilliant Jungle Book – the one with the Beatlish vultures and the George Sanders tiger – raised them in my estimation.

  15. Word has it that Bob Chapek upset all the woke lovelies because he wanted to dial back the woke excesses. Witness the demonstrations by staff at Disney Florida. He had some weird idea that entertainment companies ought to make entertainment that made money.

    Now this could all be speculation but the reactions when he was appointed and now when he has been fired suggest there may be some truth.

  16. Michael van der Riet

    The Golden Rule in recruitment is that fifty per cent of all hiring decisions are going to be wrong. You have a hundred workers. Fifty of them are duds. Get rid of them and hire another fifty. Twenty-five of those will be duds. Now you have seventy-five stars and only twenty-five duds. Repeat.

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