What does it take to get canned just six months after you’ve been hired to run one of America’s most iconic magazine publishers? I wondered this when I read a story in Friday’s WSJ about Time CEO Jack Griffin, who got the ax after his boss, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, concluded that his management style did not mesh with that of the company. Scrolling down into the story, I figured out why they let this guy go.
Some people said that Griffin exhibited what they called “Imperious behavior.” One example? He insisted that every title, Sport Illustrated, Fortune, the flagship Time and others include a masthead in each issue that included the CEO’s name right up on top. Traditionally, this had been the choice of the editor, and Griffin’s request for the mandatory extra page cost Time Inc $5 million a year.
Griffin also liked to hold meetings at 7:30 am, which was tough on Time staffers with families. I mean, who comes to work at a magazine in New York City expecting to be awake and chatty at that hour? But Griffin still had his supporters who say that Time is so entrenched that they resist the changes needed to face a tough future.
Another reason the CEO got the quck ax was his preference for hiring outside consultants over company insiders. Time is a place with a legendary deep bench of marketing, sales and advertising talents, yet the boss was keen to reinvent the business and the culture. “I think there was a disconnect from the beginning,” said a Time executive.