Why SprintNextel's COO got the boot

SprintNextel's chief operating officer Len Lauer got the boot yesterday. The reasons he was let go amount to one overarching cause: poor execution.

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SprintNextel's chief operating officer Len Lauer got the boot yesterday.

The reasons he was let go amount to one overarching cause: poor execution.

As the Wall Street Journal's Amol Sharmer and Shawn Young note, more than a year after Sprint's acquisition of Nextel, the consumer-centric focus of Sprint and the business-oriented corporate culture of Nextel have failed to mesh.

To that I add the fact of problems in the field. I have a Nextel BlackBerry, and wanted to take advantage of a SprintNextel offer to upgrade existing customers to SprintNextel EVDO for my laptop.

Guess what. A month ago, the clerk in the Sprint store couldn't access my Nextel customer records, because they hadn't been combined as of yet.

It's no trivial task to combine these functions, but it isn't rocket science. Computer science, yes, but a year later? How about some sort of electronic cross-systems records retrieval system in the interim?

As the WSJ points out, there's also been slow subscriber growth (maybe because of the mixed messages)? There's been churn, as well as a failure to aggressively pursue cell phone partnerships with broadband cable ISPs.

And to that, I add a failure of vision. As I have been saying on these pages for more than a year, Sprint needs to vary their services by getting into the VoIP game and purchasing Vonage. Yet rather than buy 1.6 million subscribers, they seem more willing to put together piecemeal affiliate deals instead. It's a dumb policy-especially as triple and quadruple-play competitors are proving so much more nimble in the VoIP growth area.

So Lauer goes. No surprise. Hell, Matt Lauer could have done a better job.

But getting rid of #2 won't fix the problem. It rarely does when the probs are so endemic.

Do I foresee the departure of CEO Gary Forsee next?

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