Andrew Hill

Leonardo Del Vecchio: out with the new, in with the old? (Photo: Paolo Bona)

I’m annoyed with Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder of Luxottica, the sunglasses and spectacles-maker. By retaking the executive reins at 79, he has undermined a recent column in which I contrasted his enlightened approach with the benighted version of family ownership and management practised by Rupert Murdoch. Worse, his decision looks like a step back for the company itself.

Mr Del Vecchio apparently has no intention of installing any of his offspring as chief executive, now the well-respected Andrea Guerra has stepped down. That is good. But when you give yourself the title of executive chairman and you own two thirds of the company, it is hard to say that you have kept the operational and shareholder aspects of your business separate, which I still consider to be the best model. As I wrote in March, “maintaining both ownership and management of a large family business more often than not leads downhill into further confusion, uncertainty and internecine conflict”. Read more

If you are a business leader and you yearn to spearhead reforms to British bureaucracy, you have until the end of next week to apply to be the first chief executive of the UK civil service. So far, recruiting the requisite heavy-hitter is proving a struggle.

It rained on Burning Man this week, delaying the start of the experimental, utopian festival in the Nevada desert attended by many technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Burning Man’s usual meteorological challenge is dust storms, so it made a change for the desert to imitate Glastonbury by turning to mud.

Emma Jacobs

Fabrizio Rongione and Marion Cotillard in 'Two Days, One Night'

Fabrizio Rongione and Marion Cotillard in 'Two Days, One Night'

Two Days, One Night, which stars Marion Cotillard as Sandra, a depressed employee in a small solar-panel factory, is a modest and gentle film. Written and directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgian brothers who have won two Palmes d’Or at Cannes, the new release is a modern parable about the impact of management decisions on employees’ lives. Read more

If you are a business leader and you yearn to spearhead reforms to British bureaucracy, you have until the end of next week to apply to be the first chief executive of the UK civil service. So far, recruiting the requisite heavy-hitter is proving a struggle.

Andrew Hill

Most chief executives think of themselves as rational. Certainly, in the world of closely scrutinised listed companies, it would be unwise for corporate leaders to project any other image.

But, as Manfred Kets de Vries of Insead business school puts it in a new working paper, written with colleague Alicia Cheak, “our everyday lives consist of webs of constantly shifting and irrational forces that underlie seemingly ‘rational’ behaviours and choices – and life in organisations is no exception”. To lead successfully, he suggests, requires a “psychodynamic approach” that seeks to understand the hidden factors motivating teams. Read more

As this month’s centenary of the outbreak of the first world war drew nearer, historians jousted over what the world would have looked like if the bullet Gavrilo Princip aimed at Archduke Franz Ferdinand had missed, or if Britain had not leapt to Belgium’s defence.

Ben McLannahan

The denial from Chugai Pharmaceutical could hardly have been more emphatic.

No, Japan’s number three drugmaker by market capitalisation had nothing to do with news reports that Roche, its 59.89 per cent shareholder, was weighing a buyout of minorities, it announced on Saturday. Then it went on: “Chugai is in no way in the process of reviewing any plan to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Roche, nor discussing with Roche about such a transaction.” Read more

Emma Jacobs

Max Schireson says no one ever asked him how he balanced work and parenthood

Last week, Max Schireson announced his decision to step down from his post as chief executive of MongoDB, an open source database developer. The reason? To spend more time with his family. It was no euphemism. He really meant it. Read more

Fred Goodwin, disgraced former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, was notorious for what were nicknamed “morning beatings”, where he focused rage and ridicule on his lieutenants. According to Shredded , Ian Fraser’s new book, the senior team would play Hangman while waiting for the meetings to start, “to see who might be ‘strung up’ next”. Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers was known for his short temper and intimidating style. The wrath of Robert Maxwell, the late media tycoon, was epic.

Bernie Ecclestone, the 83-year-old supremo of Formula One, this week brought his empire-threatening bribery trial to an end by agreeing to pay $100m to the German court that was hearing the case. That is right: he paid off the state of Bavaria to escape a bribery charge.

Emma Jacobs

Justin Timberlake, pop star and actor, is not typically seen as shedding light on societal divisions. Yet the character he played in a film, In Time, a few years ago, was on to something. Set in a dystopian future, where time is currency, the US has been split into “time zones” based on personal wealth. Timberlake’s character, Will Salas, handsome yet poor, tries to bring down the system.
A new study by the University of California, Berkeley, has found that although time is objectively identical for everyone, time perception is subjective. The authors’ key message is that the more powerful you are, the more time you feel you have. In fact, the authors write, “powerful individuals believe they have control over outcomes that they could not possibly control, such as the outcome of a die roll”.

 Read more

In the 1970s you could buy a hippy-ish poster of a bird flying towards a lurid sunset, with the maxim: “If you love something, set it free: if it comes back to you, it’s yours; if it doesn’t, it was never meant to be.” I assumed the slogan had expired along with a taste for joss sticks and tie-dye T-shirts. I am amazed to find it has instead become a formal human resources policy.

John Gapper

My first reaction to the $73bn bid from 21st Century Fox for Time Warner, which this week settled in for a prolonged fight as Time Warner blocked Fox from mounting a rapid assault on its board of directors, was to ask: what problem is Rupert Murdoch trying to solve?

Shortly after Philip Clarke made his surprising – and, it turns out, prescient –admission at a conference in March that his days as Tesco chief executive were probably numbered, the boss of another blue-chip British company asked me, worriedly: “Does it sometimes take two CEOs to turn a company round?”