Why Marissa Mayer is Breaking Eggs

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, is living out the idiom, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”

It seems like everyone wants to be a leader, until they have to make tough decisions.  Marissa is different.  She’s a real leader.  She’s willing to make the tough decisions.  With every decision, there are negative effects and unanticipated consequences.  So what.

It seems clear to me that Marissa is making a values-based decision.   She values the positive impact of people getting together, working face-to-face and side-by-side.  She knows how powerful those hallway chats and water cooler inspired Ah-ha moments can be.  She understands how the “chemistry” of informal conversations can’t be replicated by remote workers.

She’s breaking a few eggs for sure.  She’s also likely to see who the whiners and complainers are.  Those with negative attitudes will make themselves known.  Those who are not willing to make some sacrifices to save this great company, and also realize personal benefits from the sacrifice, should leave Yahoo!.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t about remote working being good or bad.  I’m a huge fan of location-independent working in most cases.  I think many people are more productive when working from home.  Marissa will surely pay some price for her decision.  But, that’s not the issue.

The issue is what she’ll gain, in spite of the losses.  See, there’s a risk-reward aspect to her decision-making.  The upside is far greater than the downside in Yahoo!’s case.  The status quo at Yahoo! has been killing them.  Many people have become entitled to doing things their own way, without leaders who can make the tough calls.  Some people have taken advantage of the freedom.  Many have not, too.  But her decision is right, right now, at Yahoo!

Marissa makes the tough calls.  She’s a real leader.  She’s making omelettes.

Here’s the memo from Jacqueline Reses, Executive Vice President, People and Development (already leaked to the press from many disgruntled employees):


Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.
To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.

Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.



About Curt Buermeyer

I am the founder and president of LeadPeople. I hope you enjoyed this post and encourage you to subscribe to receive these in your inbox. Thanks for visiting!

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