The January issue also contained an article entitled "All the Right Moves," about Koss Corp., whose founder brought in a professional manager as president and nearly lost his company in the bargain. One reader found the piece disturbing.
It's hard to understand why John Koss didn't pay off James Dodson and resume control of his company when things first began to go wrong. Koss says, "Dodson's style was autocratic, which was directly opposite to mine, and he wanted to make all the decisions. But it was hard for me to keep disagreeing. I thought, 'After all, he's done it before." In fact, Dodson had not "done it before." The article describes Dodson as a "Big Eight accountant" who had "run divisions for a couple of large corporations." Running a division of a large corporation does not provide the skills needed for building up a smaller company. Being a Big Eight accountant only qualifies someone to do accounting.
Hard to understand though it may be, John Koss's mistake is an all too common one. We've seen it happen so often that a founder need only utter the magic words, "So I brought in a top executive from a Fortune 500 company . . .," and we can pretty much fill in the rest of the scenario ourselves. This is not to say that big-company managers never succeed in small, growing companies. On the contrary, they often do -- when they themselves are the founders or owners. But seldom have we heard about big-company managers succeeding as hired executives in entrepreneurial businesses.