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Who are the masters now?

31 December 2010

In my last post I sang the praises of Daniel Pink’s book Drive. If anyone needs any convincing that the Type X approach to managing professionals is counter-productive, they should look at how demotivated so many teachers in Britain have become as a result of top-down targets from politicians, inane box-ticking and […]

What drives us to work

7 December 2010

Some books change your view of the world, not so much because they tell you something completely new, as crystallise ideas you half-understood already. Or as Proust put it, you see the world with new eyes. Daniel Pink’s Drive is such a book. Anyone who cares about work – how it can […]

The perils of hubris

3 April 2010

Hubris gets a bad press, and deservedly so. The reckless arrogance of the leaders of Enron and WorldCom not only destroyed their businesses but took some of them to jail. Many feel that bankers deserved a similar fate after ludicrous levels of overconfidence spurred them to take on unprecedented levels of debt, […]

Competitive advantage

10 March 2010

Two fascinating books on the troubled media industry have appeared recently. I have written a great deal about Google lately so I will comment on Ken Auletta’s Googled later. Reading The Curse of the Moguls by Jonathnn Knee, Bruce Greenwald and Ava Seave is a bit like coming across Machiavelli’s The Prince […]

Up in the air

27 January 2010

Up in the Air is a rather good movie that’s been hailed as a great piece of social commentary, but the picture it paints of the business world is a fantasy. George Clooney and Vera Farmiga are terrific, especially together; the clips of real people, devastated at losing their jobs, are moving; […]

Entrepreneurs v Managers

31 December 2009

Few organisations achieve a satisfactory balance between entrepreneurial spirit and management discipline, the elusive quality I call disciplined entrepreneurialism. There’s an almost inevitable tension between the often anarchic forces of creativity and originality and those of order, efficiency and professionalism. Creative people and organisations are often hopeless at practical tasks, while the […]

M&A: the triumph of hope over experience

11 December 2009

There’s an intriguing symmetry between two announcements this month. Comcast, the cable company, has acquired 51% of NBC Universal, and Time Warner has finally managed to sell off AOL, with which it so disastrously merged nine years ago. The latest deal may not challenge the earlier one for the title of most […]

Just too big

30 November 2009

You’d think it was abundantly clear by now that banks that are too big to fail are just too big. Bankers tend not to agree.

Anyone else still doubtful should read the analyses of Willem Buiter, Martin Wolf, John Kay and Gillian Tett. Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the IMF […]

Dell’s fading star

26 November 2010

Long before it actually became market leader, Dell was the hottest name in the PC industry and Michael hailed as a business genius. His face on endless magazine covers, author of a deservedly best-selling book, he was the subject of a reverential interview in the Harvard Business Review. The CEOs of leading […]