One of the few pleasures of going on the Internet on a Sunday is reading Paul Kedrosky‘s “Weekend Reading.” In his column, Kedrosky regularly summarizes the business week past, hints at the news to come in the coming week, and lists articles to read to explain what it all means.
Welcome to “The Pile.” Inspired by Kedrosky, we’re going to try something similar here. Every Sunday evening, just as we’re putting on our armor for the work week ahead, we’ll share the best of what we’re reading in our attempt to understand what’s new and important in management. (Warning: Some of these web links may require you to register or pay to read them.) Here’s what’s on our minds, our screens, and our night tables this weekend:
It’s been hard to read Fortune lately. It’s thin, the masthead continues to shrink, and too many times it seems like the strategy of the magazine is to replicate the gee-whiz attitude of its departed younger sibling Business 2.0. But the most recent issue has two fantastic pieces. In one, Steve Rattner’s The Auto Bailout: How We Did It, the head of the Obama Administration’s auto task force delivers a standard first-person tale, but Rattner is a former journalist, so his descriptions are particularly sharp. Here’s what he noted about the GM management style: “At GM’s Renaissance Center headquarters, the top brass were sequestered on the uppermost floor, behind locked and guarded glass doors. Executives housed on that floor had elevator cards that allowed them to descend to their private garage without stopping at any of the intervening floors (no mixing with the drones).”
Also in the current Fortune, Richard Siklos has another tale of management gone terrible awry, The Fight Over Michael’s Millions, with the Michael in question being the late singer Michael Jackson. It’s a tale of collossally bad money and talent decisions, the most poignant being the hiring of a $100,000-per-month personal physician. As Siklos concludes, “when it comes to the big financial questions, it’s a good bet that Jackson’s executors will not be asking themselves, ‘What would Michael do?'” (Disclosure: I’ve both edited and been edited by Siklos.)