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April 10, 2009

You Moron CEOs: Time to File Bossruptcy


Bankruptcy must be the most ironic concept in all of business. It’s ironic because everyone dreads the prospect of having to file for bankruptcy or go through it. But in fact, bankruptcy is the business equivalent of a license to get away with murder.


Now, I say this not as someone who has ever gone through it. I haven’t. I could have justified it a couple of times, but I opted to keep living in squalor and paying off my debts like a good doobie. But the most important thing to know about bankruptcy is that your creditors generally end up settling for pennies on the dollar.


But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that, while your creditors are taking it up the rump, a bankruptcy judge reviews all the bad decisions you made that got you so mired in debt – and undoes them for you.


This is why I don’t understand why General Motors keeps insisting “bankruptcy is not an option.” Those insane union contracts? Gone! The costly supplier contracts? Renegotiated! All those banks who loaned you money? Screwed!


I’d file Chapter 11 in a second before I groveled before Congress, but hey, that’s me.


At any rate, I got to thinking about this because I’ve decided to propose a bankruptcy equivalent for really bad CEOs. I call it bossruptcy. It, too, is a fairly simple concept. Like bankruptcy, which is designed to give you a second chance if you get mired in unmanageable debt, bossruptcy is designed to give you a second chance if you put a bunch of moronic policies in place that leave your company directionless and profitless.


When you file for bossruptcy, yes, you get to remain the CEO. Much like a company in Chapter 11, you remain a going concern. (“My greatest going concern is that this guy is still the boss,” the bossruptcy judge might say.)


The bossruptcy hearing will lay bare all the ugly details of your regrettable management decisions.


“Mr. Krause, where exactly did you get the idea to let your interns draw up the company pay structure?”


“Geez, your honor, they were really enthusiastic about it! I figured, hey, what could go wrong?”


“I see, and when you gave executive management personnel permission to lease Cadillacs as company cars, what was your thinking there?”


“Well, your honor, one of the executives asked me if he could lease a Chevy. I looked at the price and realized I couldn’t afford the Chevy. So I figured, well, if I can’t afford a Chevy, I might as well not afford a Cadillac! It was a popular choice.”


“Sounds perfectly Ladewigian to me.”




“Let’s move on, Mr. Krause. I see you hired a sales manager even though she showed up 20 minutes late for her job interview. Now you can rarely get her to show up for work, and when she does, she does nothing but annoy the other employees. Why did you hire this person?”


“Well, the way I looked at it, your honor, she could be so annoying, people would place orders just to get her to shut up!”


“And did it work out that way?”


“In a manner of speaking. They gave her orders to vacate the premises.”


“I see. One other thing. In your financial report, the category you have listed for about 85 percent of your expenditures is ‘I don’t know.’ What does that mean?”


“You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?”


“Yes I do, Mr. Krause, and I must tell you, I have never been so appalled at the management practices of any one individual. And I see incompetent schlumps come through here every day. You’ve achieved quite a feat.”


“Well, gosh, I try . . .”


By the time the hearing is over, the judge has ripped up every policy you’ve ever put in place and written sensible new ones. While your trip through bossruptcy is humiliating, and your employees are laughing at you (except the ones who had to give back their Cadillacs), you are still the boss and you’re still in business.


Congratulations. I think.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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