Monthly Archives: November 2012

Andrew Hill

Roberto Di Matteo. Image by Getty

Chief executives who fret about the short-termist demands of their companies’ shareholders should spare a thought for Roberto Di Matteo, ditched as manager of Chelsea Football Club on Wednesday.

Football is a funny old management game, of course, but Chelsea’s capricious owner Roman Abramovich embodies a combination of short-termism, short temper and short-term memory loss that is extreme even in that curious world.

True, Mr Di Matteo had just overseen Chelsea’s defeat in the Champions’ League on Tuesday night to Italy’s Juventus, which puts the London club in danger of an early exit from Europe’s most prestigious club competition. But Mr Di Matteo is also the man who, having taken over only weeks earlier from the last hapless Chelsea manager, led the club to (admittedly unexpected) victory in the same tournament in May. Read more

Andrew Hill

“Real business value”, “industry-shifting technology”, “unsurpassed innovation” or “accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures”? Or both?

Hewlett-Packard’s accolades for Autonomy’s technology are drawn from an HP “fact sheet” which is helpfully included in the “related links” HP provides from Tuesday’s withering online statement about an $8.8bn impairment charge. Most of the charge relates, HP says, to alleged improprieties at the UK software company the US group bought last year.

The announcement brings back into the open the sort of concerns that dogged Autonomy as Mike Lynch, its co-founder, built up the business – and that he always dismissed as untrue. Read more

The most thought-provoking declaration at the conference I attended last week on the future of capitalism came not from a chief executive, business school dean or management sage but from a newly minted “Gen Y” graduate with an entrepreneurial bent. Traditional education is flawed, according to Hongjun Wang from Singapore. “It isn’t a complete system,” he said. “We need to start taking personal responsibility [and ask ourselves]: ‘What are the ways I can complement and supplement my education?’”

John Gapper

David Carr’s column in the New York Times criticising Katharine Weymouth, the publisher of the Washington Post, for her handling of the venerable Watergate paper strikes me as a little off-target.

Carr, the NYT’s respected media columnist, focuses on how Ms Weymouth, niece of Don Graham, the former publisher of the family-controlled paper, provoked the departure of Marcus Brauchli as the Post’s executive editor. He suggests she lacks the gravitas and people-handling skills of Mr Graham:  Read more

The co-founder of PayPal and Tesla, and founder of SpaceX talks to the FT’s John Gapper and Daniel Garrahan about electric cars for the mass market and putting people on Mars, at the UK launch of his sports car.

Andrew Hill

One of the strongest underlying themes of the fourth Global Peter Drucker Forum isn’t even on the formal agenda: education.

Day one of the two-day Vienna conference – which keeps alive the ideas of the late Austrian-born management writer – began with education. In a video message, Drucker’s 101-year-old widow Doris asked “is a college education still a parent’s best investment?” in a fast-changing world.

It continued with education, as Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman asserted that entrepreneurs are not born, but made – in part through courses like his, which teaches Israeli students to launch and run technology start-ups (Tobias Buck’s FT interview with him explains more). It ended with education: Lynda Gratton of London Business School cited it as one of three key challenges that lie ahead for the global economy (the others being climate change and poverty). Read more

The sex scandal that brought down David Petraeus, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, this week has everything – compromising emails, a relationship with his admiring biographer, a second femme fatale and a shirtless agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Everything but substance.

Andrew Hill

With the Chinese Communist party about to anoint Xi Jinping as its new secretary general, there is plenty of speculation about the implications of its political and economic changes for the rest of the world, but little about its capacity to inspire management innovation.

China is overdue a modern management guru (Sun Tzu, born around the sixth century BC, doesn’t count).

Walter Kiechel has written an excellent potted history of “The Management Century” in the latest Harvard Business Review, starting in the late 19th and early 20th century with an “age of scientific management” (led by Frederick Winslow Taylor), moving through a more sophisticated era of growing self-confidence from the 1940s to the 1980s (dominated by the insights of Peter Drucker, whose life and work is celebrated this week at the Global Drucker Forum in Vienna) and on to the modern era of specialisation and globalisation. But, as Kiechel writes, “most of our story so far takes place in the United States”: Read more