Management

While waiting in a big Manhattan hospital about 15 years ago, I glimpsed the chairman of one of the world’s biggest banks in a consulting room. I never found out why he was there. If he was ill, his employer never said and the man is now enjoying a long and apparently healthy retirement.

Andrew Hill

Pale, male and stale: what's next for the boardroom?

As boards gradually move towards better balance by gender, what is the next frontier?

Alan Mak, a 30-year-old non-executive director of Havas Worldwide (UK), thinks boards should make it a priority to take on more young directors. He and I have gone head-to-head on the issue in print and we took the debate onto Twitter on Thursday to test the mood. Read more

Andrew Hill

What puzzles me about Sports Direct’s campaign to pay founder Mike Ashley a bonus – which finally succeeded on Wednesday, despite shareholder opposition – is that it focuses City attention on the weak spots in the sports retailer’s make-up: its governance and its dependence on Mr Ashley himself. Read more

When I sat down with colleagues this year to review a “longlist” of applicants for the Financial Times’ editorial trainee scheme, we agreed on one thing: any of the 50 candidates left in the running would be a worthy recruit. Yet following months of due diligence by FT staff, including writing tests and, for some, interviews, 48 were bound to receive a rejection letter.

The Innovator’s Dilemma was published in 1997, so when The New Yorker last week printed a detailed dissection of disruptive innovation, the idea at the heart of Clayton Christensen’s book, my first reaction was: what took critics so long?

Andrew Hill

Clayton Christensen (Peter Foley/Bloomberg)

Clay Christensen is a gentle man, of devout Mormon faith, prone to sentimentality and beloved by many – not least for his lessons to students on how to find fulfilment, which he turned into an unexpected bestseller, How Will You Measure Your Life?

But the avuncular Harvard Business School star is hot under the collar about this week’s New Yorker attack on the book (The Innovator’s Dilemma) and theory (disruptive innovation) for which he is best known.

What seems to have made him particularly angry is the fact that the author, Jill Lepore, who is also a Harvard academic, did not drop by to chat to him about her detailed allegations that his theory does not stand up. Read more

Andrew Hill

Isis infographic detailing attacks by type (Institute for the Study of War)

Chilling though it is to read how the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) records its military and terrorist successes in a sort of company report, it is hardly surprising.

Isis, for all its brutality, is an organisation. Organisations need managing, and – in the words of management writer Peter Drucker – “what gets measured, gets managed”.

The Institute for the Study of War, the US-based group that analysed the Isis annual reports, actually headlined its briefing “Isis Annual Reports Reveal a Metrics-Driven Military Command”.

As interpreted by the institute, Isis’s metrics serve a similar purpose to those of a company. Read more

Since the financial crisis, the only politically palatable response to corporate malfeasance has been to add more pages to the rule book. Last week, for example, George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, said he would make manipulation of foreign exchange and other benchmarks a criminal offence.

Andrew Hill

Outsiders have been marvelling at the uncanny skills of robots for decades. In 1978, commentators on the FT’s “Technical Page” were wowed by a machine called Puma (“programmable universal manipulator for assembly”) that had the “dexterity and accuracy [to] insert lamps into automobile instrument panels”. These days, Puma would look about as nimble as a first world war tank. My colleague Tanya Powley writes in the last of the FT’s series on robots at work that a Danish company has developed a machine that “can pack millions of eggs without crushing them”, while lightweight collaborative robots work alongside humans.

Missing, though, from most accounts of how automation will transform the workplace is a similar sense of wonder at the dexterity of managers as they adapt their human skills to the demands of the sophisticated machinery around them. Read more

Welcome to the World Cup in Brazil, brought to you by Fifa, a corporate governance disaster that is also one of the most successful multinational enterprises on earth.

Andrew Hill

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe Photo: Reuters

A couple of royal handovers and a papal resignation and suddenly abdication – which used to have a near uniformly negative connotation – is all the rage. Read more

John Gapper

Stephen Immelt, brother of Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric, has become the second Immelt to lead a multinational organisation – in his case the law firm Hogan Lovells.

Jeff Immelt has given his brother some advice on how to do so. In an interview with The Lawyer magazine, Steve says Jeff has a rule of three-to-five for managing GE: Read more

Self-castration was such a popular path to a high-flying advisory career in China’s imperial court that the Ming dynasty ended up having to employ lots of eunuchs it could not afford.

Early in her career at Apollo Hospitals, Preetha Reddy, then aged 30, went to question a senior doctor. Affronted about being interrogated by a manager half his age, he quit the next day. It taught Ms Reddy, now managing director of the Indian healthcare group, to practise “the art of listening” before confronting a more experienced team member with new ideas.

Andrew Hill

Graves at the Père-Lachaise-cemetery in Paris

I’ve been wondering about the most suitable place to commemorate the death of the Omnicom-Publicis deal. How about Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where Oscar Wilde and The Doors’ Jim Morrison are buried?

A photo of Maurice Lévy and John Wren, respectively the bosses of Publicis and Omnicom, thumbing their noses at each other against a backdrop of moss-covered tombs would be just as appropriate in its way as the infamous deal-announcement image of the two men toasting one another, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background. Read more