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There were a few times in my career when one of my CEO clients got into a situation that required a Turnaround Expert to be called in to help. Sometimes that situation was their own doing and other times, it was someone within the organization that had messed things up pretty bad.

CEOs call in experts when they can’t fix it themselves. It’s too big for them and they are too close to the issue to see the whole truth. Plus egos get in the way and CEOs sometimes can’t see the truth out of fear. Turnaround experts are there for one purpose – turn the company around to become a success again. They are a valuable resource.

With the news yesterday that Zahn was terminated for cause and the entire JEA board will be leaving next month — there is a need for a turnaround specialist NOW. JEA is too big of an asset for our city to let it sit there and flounder around while everyone points fingers at who did what.

Finger pointing should be handled by the investigators. Pointing JEA back to a great company should be handled by experts.

But who will that be? And who would chose that person or entity? Can we do it NOW without a board to approve such a move? Can we trust our Mayor to pick the right board members after this latest fiasco? Can we change the rules through the City Council to do whatever it takes to bring calm back to JEA?

These are questions for our leaders to answer and they should be looking at this hole in our city — NOW. The reason NOW is so important is this: “This is an important city asset and it needs leadership now.”

A turnaround specialist — an industry expert – will come in on a temporary basis and will start putting the business back together. He/She will look at controls (processes in place now and what needs to happen later); the culture (how JEA employees interact with each other and how to create an open and trustworthy relationship to keep work flowing smoothly); they will evaluate the connections with JEA that are important to keeping the business going (rating agencies, city council, suppliers, etc.); they will find a way to regain trust with the customers; and they will do a deep dive into the financials to see what is truth and what is fiction (creativity is good but not in accounting).

Lastly — a turnaround specialist brings calm into the storm and we sure as heck need that.

Just writing about this specialist makes me feel better because I’ve seen the good they can do and the hope they bring to organizations who are in deep trouble. I’ve seen them turnaround companies and saved jobs, saved the company and saved face. And JEA – and our city — needs all that saving!

I hope the Mayor and the City Council will stop and consider finding just the right expert to help us NOW. Why not? Surely there are great Utility experts who can bring wisdom and expertise that we so desperately need.

And by the way — I hope that expert will take out the great document prepared by a great JEA board and CEO that put in place the Governance Policies for the JEA Board. Had that document been followed — we wouldn’t need a turnaround expert!

Read more about that document here: https://eyeonjacksonville.com/open-letter-to-jea-board-from-billie-tucker-founder-of-eye-on-jacksonville/

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Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives

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