Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lessons from Alan Hassenfeld, Former CEO of Hasbro

Alan Hassenfeld, the former CEO of Hasbro came into speak to our CEO Perspectives in  Managing Adversity class earlier this semester.  I thought I would share some of the key points he made.  Hassenfeld's talk was actually about a crisis brought on by another company.  Mattel, Hasbro's main competitor and the number one player in the toy space had caused a number of recalls associated with contaminated paint.  

Here are some of the points he made: 

You have no right to ask someone to do something that you would do yourself: This includes sending people to far flung locations, or unethical issues.

Don’t do business with anyone you wouldn’t break bread with: At the end of the day, business relationships are complex, and will have their ups and downs.  Hasbro had 25 to 30 year relationships with some of their manufacturers in China.  Alan saw this as a critical part of Hasbro’s ability to understand and manage the risks.

Sometimes it’s better to be under the radar, especially when an industry is in crisis.

Cardinal rule of doing business in Asia: Do not cause people to lose face in public.  It’s important who you blame.

Countries don’t manufacture goods, companies do:  You are responsible for what your company puts on the market, and there is no excuse for blaming the supply chain of a country for what happens.  When you go to a low-cost country, you must manage the risk in its entirety since you take the fall if something goes wrong.

Succession planning: This is vital to the health of a company.  Know who will lead the company next and get them ready to do so. 

Consumer behavior is unpredictable: This is especially the case when your consumers are kids.  They will find ways to do things that you never thought possible and couldn’t have discovered in hundreds of years of testing. 

Some fun quotes from today:

“I’m Chairman of the Executive Committee at Hasbro now.  It’s sort of like running a graveyard.  There’s lots of people below you, but there’s no one listening.”

“Grandchildren are your reward for not murdering your children.” –Howard Anderson, quoting Bill Cosby

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