Isdell knows the Coke system cold: A citizen of Ireland, he joined the company in Zambia in 1966, and served soft-drink tours of duty in South Africa, Australia, the Philippines, and Germany, where he consolidated A hodgepodge of 106 bottlers into 30 in just 3 years.
He's best known for his people skills — a valuable asset at a huge outfit like Coke. Indeed, Isdell is cut from the same managerial cloth as Coke's legendary former president, Donald R. Keough — a gregarious backslapper who could motivate and inspire the troops like few before or since.
What is wrong with Coke isn't just marketing, operations, culture, or anything like that. The industry has changed. People don't drink soft drinks like they used to. Unfortunately for Coke, I think they only way they can be successful is to diversify. Coke the drink will become an ever diminishing part of their portfolio, as they branch out into all the other things people drink right now. Their lack of ability to grow Coke is, ironically, due in part to how successful they have been at making it the most popular soft drink in the world.