Firing with finesse: George Clooney played a downsizing expert in the film 'Up in the Air'
Every year at around this time I hand out prizes for the finest examples of corporate drivel written or uttered in the last twelve months. The point of my Golden Flannel Awards (now in their splendid 8th year) is to celebrate business leaders and companies that have gone the extra mile to push the envelope when it comes to creovative, best-of-breed drivel. As I’ve often pointed out, the great thing about the bullshit market is that it only has a bull phase, which means that every year the awards go on getting better (or worse).
This year, in recognition of the sheer scale and maturity of the bull industry, I’ve decided to conduct the Flannel Awards in a more organised way. In the past I’ve chosen the winners myself. But this year I want FT readers to help me. Every day until Christmas I’ll be posting shortlists for a different category on this blog and I would like you to tell me which you think deserves the prize. The shortlists are short, as I’m only putting forward things that I think are a) new b) excruciatingly awful. However, if anyone has come across any more worthy examples, let me know. The glorious winners will be announced in my first column of 2014. Without more ado, here is the first category: Read more
EADS closes Paris: "Someday you'll understand…" ('Casablanca', AP Photo, Files)
If corporate headquarters always have a symbolic as well as an organisational function then EADS’ arrangements symbolised the political complexity of the pan-European aerospace and defence company.
The group’s website lists three “head offices” – in Paris, Munich and Madrid – and one “headquarters”, in Amsterdam. But since an April reorganisation, the group has referred to Toulouse, where chief executive Tom Enders and the important Airbus business are based, as its “single operational headquarters”. That should have been a clue to staff elsewhere that their future might not be so stable. If you’re not operational, you are probably an overhead. So it has proved: EADS is poised to close the Paris office, next to the Bois de Boulogne. Read more
Sitting in the Sunken Overlook amphitheatre on the High Line – the public garden that runs along a former elevated railway on the west side of Manhattan – is like being in a museum of the 20th century. The work on display through the plate glass windows is Tenth Avenue (People Driving Cars).
The unfolding Co-op bank fiasco is a brutal reminder that choosing a particular business form – co-operative, mutual, limited partnership, listed company – is no proof against management or governance disaster. But more businesses should look at the variety of business forms available – and consider switching if their purpose changes. Read more
No one will ever find themselves in precisely the position Jeff Bezos found himself in when he launched Amazon.com in 1994, with the ambition to create an online “everything store”. Instead, most competitors will – at least for now – have to learn from Bezos’s success.
On Monday, The Everything Store, which traces Amazon’s rise, was named FT/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year for 2013, partly, in the words of one judge, because of its management lessons.
I talked to Brad Stone, the book’s author, about what those lessons might be, and he outlined four. Read more
Remember the scene in Pretty Woman when snooty assistants in a designer clothes shop refuse to serve Julia Roberts because of her – ahem – unorthodox attire, thereby depriving themselves of an enormous commission, funded by Richard Gere’s credit card? New academic research suggests that the luxury goods industry has learnt its lesson. Read more
If a destination’s desirability is measured by the number of maps that claim to lead you to it, innovation is the corporate world’s Taj Mahal. Among the manuals on sale is an Innovator’s Guide, a Cookbook, a Toolkit, a Path, a Way, a Handbook and a Manifesto.