Annals of Crap Succession Planning, Wachovia Edition

What a mess. Wachovia’s board, led by its chairman of less than a month, Lanty Smith, has fired the CEO, Kennedy Thompson, with no idea of who’s going to replace him. There’s now an interim CEO (Smith) as well as an interim COO (Ben Jenkins).

“No single precipitating event caused the Board to reach this decision, but a series of previously disclosed disappointments and setbacks cumulatively have negatively impacted the company and its performance,” Mr. Smith said in a statement.

Clearly what happened here was that the board, when it was led by Thompson, never pushed him hard enough to come up with a clear succession plan. This is not uncommon: the same thing happened at Citi. And it will continue to happen so long as the chairman and CEO roles continue to be held by the same guy. This is one thing boards should really push CEOs on; I do wonder when they fail to do so.

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