Kicking the elephant in the roomLifeHealthPro Blog added by Denis Storey on April 24, 2013
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Centennial, CO

Joined: September 29, 2010

My Company

Here we go again.

The Marissa Mayer saga continues. Just as the Twitter rage and old media defense started to die down, the headline-grabbing Yahoo chief executive spoke to a group of human resource managers at a conference in Los Angeles.

(We all might be excused for missing this nugget given everything else that demanded our attention last week with explosions rocking Boston and west Texas.)

Give Mayer credit, though, she took a proactive approach, fully expecting to be grilled on her blanket dismissal of telecommuting back in February. You can find my original take on the issue here.

Long story short, during her presentation, Mayer threw up a PowerPoint slide (I presume), and I'll let CNN take it from here:

“I need to talk about the elephant in the room.” Immediately an image of a purple elephant, with large while letters “WFH” (work from home) painted on its side, appeared on projection screens in the hotel auditorium.

She repeated a key phrase the company used in a statement it released after the memo was leaked: “It’s not what’s right for Yahoo right now,” and added, “It was wrongly perceived as an industry narrative …”

Mayer defended her decision by first acknowledging that “people are more productive when they’re alone,” and then stressed, “but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.”

Couple things here. First, I know she's more of a Bill Gates analytical type than a right-brain-leaning Steve Jobs type, but I would have had a little more than a simple regurgitation of her initial defense. After two months of radio silence and that's the best your writers could come up with?

And, more specifically, her deflection of the "come back to the office" edict being "wrongly perceived as an industry narrative," smacks of a lack of insight and perspective.

Hasn't she been paying attention? She's still the CEO of major tech player, despite its floundering status of late. How could she not think her old-school stance would influence others, whether they're inside or outside of the trend-setting tech space? Put quite simply, her decision was bound to have broader implications, and it's a Silicon Valley CEO's job to anticipate them and act accordingly

Say what you want about Mayer's strategy -- it's either an old-school throwback blindly fighting a rising tide or a stroke of genius culling a lot of dead fat -- but it's sent a shockwave through businesses across the country while breathing new life into the nine-to-five champions. And while little doubt remains that telecommuting is coming -- do you know where I wrote this? -- it's certainly been set back a few years.

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