Infineon's decision to scrap the office of president and CEO, replacing it with the ambiguous title, "Spokesman of the Management Board," is symptomatic of deeper problems at the German chip company.
In forcing out Ziebart, the supervisory board took a firm position that it sought a unanimous view regarding the company's future direction, whatever that might be.
Still, it's unlikely that Volkswagen's Winterkorn would have agreed to such a clearly confusing system at the German automaker. It's even more doubtful that management consultant Klaus Wucherer, another member of Infineon's supervisory board, would have many corporate clients if he advocated such an executive structure in his consulting business.
Recent speculation indicates that Infineon's supervisory board wanted to explore a closer relationship with the Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductor, a position allegedly opposed by Ziebart.
A statement from Infineon announcing Ziebart's departure offers hints of a slightly different reason for his dismissal. The company said it will begin implementing what it termed the "IFX Plus-10" program, a strategic initiative that involves additional cost cutting, portfolio rationalization and other productivity improvements.
The implication is that Infineon wants to maintain its independence and perhaps adopt the fabless or asset-light manufacturing strategy that many rival semiconductor vendors are implementing to reduce production costs while improving competitiveness.
A second possible conclusion is that Infineon wants to reduce its cost structure, streamline its product offerings and increase productivity ahead of merger talks with a potential partner.
The company expects to offer additional details of its IFX Plus-10 program in coming weeks. What's clear, however, is that the newly introduced management structure puts no particular individual at the top of the executive pyramid.
The company, it seems, will be managed by a committee, and Bauer will be the public face of the management team. Under this scenario, it is unclear who investors, customers, suppliers and other interested observers should hold responsible for the company's actions.
It's also not clear how the company's employees should respond to such a management team.
Infineon's supervisory board needs to rethink this new structure. If Bauer is as capable a manager as the board believes he is, then the 22-year semiconductor industry veteran should be confirmed as president and CEO.
If the supervisory board does not believe he is capable of filling the roles of president and CEO, then it shouldn't appoint him spokesman either. It should simply look for a competent CEO.
A corporation needs a clearly identifiable leader. Especially at this critical juncture, Infineon especially needs one as it struggles with multi-year losses and a draining DRAM unit.