The year 2003 might best be described as the time when the New Normal began to take hold. After the scandals, unrestrained greed, and implausible excuses of last year, many executives realized that their jobs would never be the same again. There would be more scrutiny and skepticism, and even their successes would be met with less adulation. The ground had shifted beneath them. This was the year when they tried to regain their balance.
Some of the best executives, such as W. James McNerney Jr. at 3M (MMM ), Orin C. Smith at Starbucks (SBUX ), and Rose Marie Bravo at Burberry, worked hard to instill financial discipline at companies that grew even as rivals faltered. Others went to unusual lengths to inspire their employees: George David of United Technologies Corp. (UTX ) pays for a college education for anyone who wants one.
But, of course, there were those who didn't get the New Normal. Philip M. Condit resigned as head of Boeing Co. (BA ) after the Pentagon announced it was investigating the company for ethical misconduct. Richard A. Grasso stepped down from the New York Stock Exchange after word got out that his pay package totaled $188 million. And the mutual-fund investigations have left few of those executives looking good.
BusinessWeek surveyed its staff of 140 writers and editors in New York and in 21 bureaus around the world to decide whose performances should be lauded and whose deserved a different kind of renown. As for those at the center of last year's corporate outrages, you'll find many of them (but, alas, not all) in the section we call On Trial.