There is one question I’ve been struggling to figure out about Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to release his second memoir: why now? Of course, he has retired but for a manager renowned for protecting his players in public while berating them in the sanctity of the dressing room, publicly naming and shaming some of the club legends has generated lots of unflattering headlines.
Sir Alex certainly wants his legacy as a leader and manager to be recognised; his methods were recently the subject of a Harvard Business Review case study.
But another reason is hinted at in one of the most revealing quotes from the book, on the loneliness of being a manager: “In management you are fragile, sometimes. You wonder whether you are valued”. Read more
I recently spent time sifting strategic plans for seven non-profit organisations, drawn up by teams of MBA students for an FT competition, the winner of which will be announced this week.
To tour the Burberry flagship store on London’s Regent Street – with its beautifully stacked clothes, its “magic mirrors” that illuminate with runway images, its signs in Arabic for Gulf tourists and its “VVIP” room on the top floor – is to enter as sweet a world as Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Googlers: Vince Vaughn, left, and Owen Wilson in the film 'The Internship'
OK, this isn’t actually my question but one posted on Quora, the question-and-answer website. Helpfully, Sam Schillace offers an answer. And he ought to know: in 2006, he and his co-founders sold Upstartle, the maker of Writely, a word processor that worked in a web browser, to the technology company and it became the basis of Google Docs. Read more
Two years ago, I awarded Angela Ahrendts a prize. The chief executive of Burberry, I thought, should be honoured for her tireless services to business jargon.
And so I made her my winner for Outstanding Services to Bunkum in recognition of the most baffling paragraph ever written by a CEO in an annual report. In her statement in the 2011 report she wrote the immortal words: Read more
Silvio Berlusconi and Jack Ma do not have much in common. The 77-year-old Italian politician is at the end of his leadership path; at 49, the Chinese founder of ecommerce group Alibaba may be barely halfway along it.
If you think lawyers are boring, I advise you to read James Stewart’s fascinating account in the New Yorker magazine of the rise and fall of Dewey & LeBoeuf, the US law firm that collapsed spectacularly last year, amid partner disharmony and financial chaos.
It has appearances from, among others, Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano, the acting head of the Bonnano crime family, and some breathtaking compensation practices. Stewart reports that Morton Pierce, then co-chairman of Dewey Ballantine, was guaranteed compensation of $35m over five years in the merger with LeBoeuf in 2007. Read more
Stephen Elop, ex-Nokia, soon-to-be ex-husband
I firmly believe boards need to be less squeamish about prying into their senior executives’ private lives, particularly when divorce is looming, because the corporate consequences can be grave. Now researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business have broadened the debate to suggest that shareholders should worry about chief executives’ marital disharmony, too.
Divorce, they write, could undermine CEOs’ control and influence, affect their “productivity, concentration and energy levels”, and have an impact on their attitude to risk. They cite Rupert Murdoch’s split from Wendi Deng and the divorce of Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, from his wife. News of the first, thanks to a pre-nuptial agreement, left News Corp shares unmoved; news of the second, with no pre-nup, knocked 2.9 per cent off Continental Resources’ stock price as investors worried about the fate of Mr Hamm’s 68 per cent stake in the group. Read more