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Friday, December 14, 2012

Most Important Developments at Yahoo Are Beneath Surface

The young reign of Marissa Mayer as CEO of Yahoo is getting a lot of attention. That's especially true as she tries to get a strategic handle on a company that's been messed up for a while.

This week's news of a shuffle on the Yahoo board, for example, is hardly surprising.

Yet the bigger story in Mayer's attempted transformation of Yahoo may be occurring beneath this high-visibility surface. There is evidence that one of the new CEO's most important initiatives is to improve the company by boosting employee engagement.

It may seem that a culture of true care about their work should come naturally to Yahoo employees and management; after all, isn't every Silicon Valley company and everyone there just wild about how they're using digital technology to transform the world?

But obviously, that hasn't been the reality for a while at Yahoo, which has been losing a struggle to stay with Amazon, Apple and Google in the top tier of companies that indeed continue to transform the world through digital technology.

So Mayer is taking the possibilities of greater engagement seriously, some reports suggest. For example, she recently e-mailed employees that each of them had the choice of a free Apple iPhone 5, a Samsung Galaxy S3 or a comparable smart phone. 

Making sure Yahoo employees reside on the cutting edge of mobile technology is a huge part of Mayer's business plan for the company, to be sure. But this gesture shows that she truly wants to compel employees to join her in overhauling the company rather than simply imposing her new vision from on high.

It'll be interesting to track the evolution of engagement at Yahoo as Mayer's high-stakes overhaul picks up speed.

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