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Distraction can lead to disaster: Bollywood folly by silent Transocean boss Steven Newman

Posting on Shell Blog by “retired shellee” on Jun 6th, 2010 at 8:43 am

Seeing Steven Newman performing a bollywood dance does not bode very well for Transocean. Nearly 15 years ago the CMD of Shell danced the Macarena and soon after RDS went into mortal decline. Chiefs of large corporations must remain focussed and not become sun kings surrounded with sycophants. They do represent their corporations in words and actions. Dancing the macarena or making bollywood moves has nothing to do with the core business of either company!

Posting on Shell Blog by “Nutshell” on Jun 6th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

You are so right, retired shellee. I too remember this period well.

Some bright spark (with a reputation to create for himself in HR) decided that all he needed to do was to persuade the CMD (especially Cor Herkstroter) of their lack of ‘leadership skills’ that he saw and envied in corporate America.

And so arrived LEAP (Leadership And Performance) to transform the financial performance of the Group. The only winners in this stupid exercise were ex GE sychophant Noel Tichy and his S&P 500 boff Larry Selden from the University of Columbia, who were flown in at huge expense on Concorde to London and Amsterdam to evangelise (almost literally) about their ideas on how to create shareholder value US style

I am ashamed to say that, at the time, we were all taken in by this bullshit and went along with the CMD’s show. Not only did we dance the Macarena (led by some brainless but suddenly important and motivating secretary) but we were even ‘bussed’ to some women’s refuge in down and out London to behave like some New York Pastor to listen to others’ woes and offer our guidance and advice on how to deal with their problems. What a joke!

So, if you are looking for a point at which RDS began to lose the plot in terms of understanding and nurturing its core skills, then this must be it – and if you are reading this and still working in HR in Shell, then you have a huge legacy of self-indulgent and destructive behaviour to answer for.

Shame on you!

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The Great Leader: “SPACE, VISION AND STRATEGY”: Sir Philip Watts, Shell Chairman who once donned a space suit at a CMD presentation in Maastricht. Watts was forced to resign in 2004 after the Shell securities fraud when he and other senior Shell execs engaged in lies and cover-up about the volume of Shell’s proven hydrocarbon reserves. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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