Duane Ackerman .com

For the uncensored, unofficial biography, factoids and myths about F. Duane Ackerman

Basic Facts:

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Announced a merger with AT&T (the former SBC telco).  The deal announced was on March 5, 2006, voted on by shareholders and approved by regulator agencies.  AT&T took over on January 1, 2007.  Newspaper reports indicated a likelihood of 10,000 job cuts (although said to be from the combined company, common sense says it will be mostly from BellSouth employees; many of whom are close to retirement age, so natural attrition may reduce the number). 

Editorial Summary:

Mr. Ackerman's tenure will be remembered as the demise of BellSouth.  Rather than taking reasonable risks and leading the company into the future; his extremely risk-averse style infected senior management and resulted in analysis paralysis.

A "rudderless ship with a leader who was dead at the helm" is a phase that summarized many B, C, and D level (mid-level) management employees' feelings.  But, perhaps that is a bit unfair: he did take risks, but his management's committee-think style with a thousand ways to block a good new idea.  That ensured that only "too-little, too-late" catch-up-with-the-competition ideas ever came to fruition

Mr. Ackerman's BellSouth hired the best and brightest mid-level managers they could find and then, effectively, told them to shut up and do as told.  Meanwhile, he reduced BellSouth from a potential global leader in telecom, by selling overseas operations in Europe and South America, to a  regional-player in the U.S. with no strategy for the future (other than to be sold to a competitor).

Many analysts have stated that had Mr. Ackerman had a vision and been willing to take good risks, AT&T would have been purchased by BellSouth when Mr. Ackerman had the opportunity.

If you doubt the veracity of this editor, ask yourself this: Why doesn't Mr. Ackerman own his own domain name?  It only cost us $6.99 to purchase it...

Want to buy this domain?  Email:   BuyDuane@DuaneAckerman.com

Has AT&T performed any better?

AT&T commenced the post merger activities, and by all accounts, quickly achieved many of the goals, included work force reductions. However, the "new" AT&T company continues to bleed employees from the former BellSouth. Among the reasons told us by departed and current employees include the "management-by-numbers" mentality of AT&T's former-SBC leaders and their "arrogant, know-it-all" style.

19-Century Management Techniques Are Alive and Well at AT&T

Announced in the summer of 2007 were such important initiatives as

These actions would appear to have no goal, other than to diminish employee morale.

We'd suggest to AT&T that it should focus on the real goals: customer service, technical innovation and making AT&T a desirable place to work.

Many employees have pointed out that there are huge savings to be realized by applying "we ought to eat our own dog food" approaches to technology initiatives, like telecommuting and televideo conferencing.  Not to mention demonstrating the value of their products and services to the marketplace. At last report, AT&T had only a half dozen or so tele-video conference rooms available for use in the metro Atlanta area. And telecommuting... for a telecommunications company... continues to be discouraged and often expressly prohibited.

Perhaps AT&T has forgotten that they sell telecommunications services?

For other views and analysis see: