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Curiously Strong Teamwork

How Bill Perez and Bill Wrigley are confecting a winning partnership of outsider and heir

Has Bill Perez lost his mind? Just 13 months after succeeding Nike Inc. (NKE ) CEO and founder Phil Knight in late 2004, Perez found himself unceremoniously ousted from the top spot. Despite Knight's pledges to step back from the business, Perez was stymied by a hands-on boss and an insular culture. So what has he done to rebound? He's gone to work alongside another hands-on boss who pledges to cede control, at a company historically criticized for an insular culture.

The 59-year-old executive was named CEO of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., the Chicago-based candy maker, last October, less than a year after the Nike debacle. He succeeds Bill Wrigley, who is now executive chairman, to become the first outsider to run the company in its 116-year history. It is not a challenge either Perez or the 43-year-old Wrigley took lightly. There are few long-term stories of successful power-sharing at the top. But Perez came to the table with something most new CEOs don't have--the lessons learned from a failed relationship and a partner eager to make the new one work. He and Wrigley have taken steps to make sure that what happened at Nike doesn't happen again, stressing clear expectations, constant communication, and the need to present a united front.