Nortel Board Screw-Ups: Is There Accountability?

Two days after Mike Zafirovski (finally) resigned as head of Nortel Networks Corp., the post-mortems are pouring in. Who killed Nortel? What could have been done differently? And, again, blame is falling on the nine board members who allowed the once-legendary company to fall apart as it has.

As a tasty morsel, wouldn’t it have behooved Nortel to hire board members who actually had telecom backgrounds? Other than Richard McCormick, that is. And, as Mark Evans at All About Nortel astutely points out, too many media outlets are giving Mike Z. passes on his failure to whip Nortel back into shape. They’re dredging up old articles about how he was headed into a maelstrom and there were no guarantees. That’s baloney. You don’t sign on as CEO with half-expectations of success.

So, the combination of a seemingly absent/disinterested board and an inept CEO – or, rather, a series of inept CEOS, when you consider Bill Owens and other Z. predecessors – brought down a company that had managed to weather The Great Depression, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s recessions and game-changing technology evolution.

Way to go, folks.

The problem is, this scrutiny of the board comes too late. Six of the nine board members resigned this week, alongside Mike Z., and what accountability do they face, other than a black mark on their résumés?

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