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
A new account of “the fall of BlackBerry” in Canada’s Globe and Mail sheds light on the torment of the country’s once-mighty technology champion with some new revelations of internal rifts and missed opportunities. Four stand out for me. Read more
Eiji Toyoda was the man who taught the world’s production workers Japanese. If you know kaizen means continuous improvement, and use kanban inventory tags to eliminate muda, or waste, then Toyoda, who died recently, was your sensei.
The controlling Jack Ma
Well done, Hong Kong. By sticking to its principles and not bending to Alibaba’s pressure for an unusual board control structure, the city’s stock exchange has struck a blow for investor rights over the increasing demands of technology executives.
Not that it will make a jot of difference. Read more
I blame Wayne Gretzky.
Ever since the world’s greatest ice hockey player said a tearful good-bye to playing in Canada way back in 1988, his fellow Canadians have been smarting at the rules of big business.
Then, it was Gretzky’s move from snowy and quiet Edmonton to showy and glitzy Los Angeles. Now, 25 years later, the woes of BlackBerry, our one-time technological champion, have led some to wonder if national pride is again at stake. The putative bid by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial to take the company private has only added to the concern, with many analysts and investors unconvinced of the business case. Read more
Di Canio confronts fans; a day later he lost his job as Sunderland manager
With Harvard Business School professors analysing Sir Alex Ferguson’s management style, and consultants drawing parallels between football coaches and chief executives, is there room in the crowded literature of sports management case studies for “The Di Canio Way”?
If there is, it will be a slim volume – Paolo Di Canio lost his job as manager of Sunderland on Sunday night after just 13 games and barely a month into the new season. I don’t have much truck with parallels between sports management and business management, but there are four cautionary chapters executives everywhere might want to read. Read more
Credit to Jamie Dimon for attempting to see the wood for the trees by felling some of the trees. The JPMorgan chief executive’s memo to staff makes clear that “simplifying [its] business” and “refocusing [its] priorities” is, well, a priority.
But what Mr Dimon is attempting is arguably the most complicated task known to managers of large multinationals, whether they sell food or financial services. It is dangerous to imply, as he does, that the goal of simplification can be achieved, once and for all, by “recognising our problems, rolling up our sleeves and fixing them”. Read more