Nick Buckles

Andrew Hill

In my article on Thursday about chief operating officers, I gave four reasons why chief executives might appoint someone to this hard-to-define role – to succeed them, to support them, to liberate them, and to tackle a challenge for them. But it seems I left one out: to be a scapegoat.

G4S has underlined my point about how such posts are as easily abolished as they are created, by getting David Taylor-Smith, the group’s chief operating officer, to carry the can for the group’s failure to provide the 10,400 guards who were ordered up to support the London Olympics. (Ian Horseman Sewell, managing director of its global events division, has also resigned). To the embarrassment of the company, organisers and UK government, the security shortfall had to be covered at the last minute by the military (who, of course, did a brilliant job).