但是，一家企业的复苏到底需要多长时间？高管猎头公司Wyatt & Jaffe总裁马克•谢斐给出的答案是8个季度。他说：“我记得以前的期限是16个季度，不过那是互联网泡沫出现之前。二十世纪90年代，我们会给人们更长的时间，因为，我们认为，要做成一件事就得花费更长的时间。”
美国西北大学凯洛格管理学院（Northwestern's Kellogg school of management）的管理学教授詹姆斯•施恩称，8个季度算是很慷慨了。新上任的CEO最多在四个季度之内就要做出显著的成绩。他不但要实现盈利，还要制定目标明确的计划，而这个计划要同时让专家、公司董事会和股东信服。
Everybody loves a corporate comeback. They sure look good on a resume, too, which means that the prospect of a turnaround often lures executives to take charge of troubled companies.
But CEOs who do accept the challenge are on the clock in a way that they may not have been before. In a society accustomed to instant gratification, especially when it comes to a return on the money we invest, the timeline for turnarounds are shorter; everyone has access to more information, and they can monitor a company's progress.
Recently, some CEOs have borne the brunt of shareholder impatience. Yahoo's (YHOO) board ousted Carol Bartz from the CEO chair earlier this month after what they saw was an unsuccessful two-year attempt to revive the struggling tech company to its former Internet glory.
Likewise, shareholders are getting restless about Tim Armstrong's turnaround strategy for flagging digital brand AOL (AOL). The company's most recent quarterly earnings report was dismal, and many in the industry are anxious to see positive results.
But how much time should a turnaround take? Eight quarters, says Mark Jaffe, president of executive search firm Wyatt & Jaffe. "I remember when it used to be 16," he says, "but that was before the Internet bubble. Back in the 90s, we used to give people more time. We simply thought it took longer to do things."
Eight quarters is actually generous, says James Shein, a management professor at Northwestern's Kellogg school of management. A new CEO needs to show significant progress in four quarters at the most, he adds. Not that the company needs to be profitable, but there has to be a plan with clear goals that convinces experts as well as a company's board and shareholders.
Of course, the amount of time a CEO should realistically have to turn a company around is directly related to the cash a company has on hand. Companies headed for bankruptcy simply don't have time to bounce around a lofty re-branding strategy. Companies with a relatively reliable stream of cash but a stale business model, such as AOL, have a little bit more leeway.
Clarity is key