Thursday, March 14, 2013

Michael Porter

The Monitor Group, the top-drawer consulting firm founded by strategy guru Michael Porter, is now part of Deloitte. The bean counters rescued what was left of the company after it declared bankruptcy late last year.

The strategic failure of a strategy company should make for an interesting story. Maybe Mark Bowden or Michael Lewis will take a stab at it.

Two interesting pieces offer contrasting perspectives on the collapse of Monitor:

Farah Stockman: Why did the smartest guys in the room go bankrupt?

Steve Denning: What Killed Michael Porter's Monitor Group?

I posted on Porter and his approach to strategy here:

Waiting for our Clausewitz

Clausewitz (II)

Fad Surfing

A sobering but honest look at the GOP's future

The Double Bind

What stands in the way of a Republican revival?


The man who was Smiley

Journalist, novelist, patriot, spy

When the much younger David Cornwell joined MI5 in 1958, Bingham became his professional mentor and also helped start him on his writing career by introducing him to his literary agent. Bingham’s son Simon records that Cornwell’s pen name, Le Carré, came from the office nickname for his father, ‘The Square’. In a radio interview in 1999 Cornwell revealed that Bingham was a model for Smiley, though in the following year, in an introduction for the re-publication of some of Bingham’s early novels, he says that Bingham was one of two men who went into the making of George Smiley.

But the John Bingham who emerges from the pages of Michael Jago’s book seems, in everything but appearance, to be about as far from Smiley as you could get. Certainly F4, with its nurturing relationship with its agents, many of whom worked for the Service for years and ended with a pension, was a very different place from the nuanced, ethically ambiguous world of Smiley and his colleagues. Le Carré wrote that Bingham felt betrayed by his cynical portrayal of the intelligence services. Bingham himself went on to write a considerable number of successful crime stories, but though he carried on writing until his old age, he never achieved his ambition of producing a spy story to rival the success of Le Carré’s books.
(HT: Paul Davis)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Now they tell us

Barack Obama a 'dithering, controlling, risk-averse' US president

Barack Obama is a "dithering" president whose controlling tendencies and extreme risk-averse attitude to foreign policy has damaged US interests in the Middle East, according to a new book by a senior former State Department adviser....

Vali Nasr, a university professor who was seconded in 2009 to work with Richard Holbrooke, Mr Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, records his profound disillusion at how a "Berlin Wall" of domestic-focused advisers was erected to protect Mr Obama.

"The president had a truly disturbing habit of funnelling major foreign policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers whose turf was strictly politics," Mr Nasr writes in The Dispensable Nation: America Foreign policy in Retreat.

When all else fails, blame the people

A couple of good posts from Jim Geraghty and Ace:

Our Big Challenge: Do We on the Right Still Trust the People?

"Do We on the Right Still Trust the People?"

Conservatives and messaging

Five quick points about the conservative tantrum

Why are conservatives mad at the GOP?

GWB and his MBA

Monday, March 04, 2013

A spectre haunts the sleep of the MSM

The nightmare has a name:


First, a tale of low bars and double-standards

Ana Marie Cox Thinks Breitbart And His ‘Minions’ Are Bad Bad People

Let’s just get this out of the way right up front: Ana Marie Cox built her career on blogging jokes about anal sex at the reprehensible guttersnipe site Wonkette. She presented herself as a rambunctious youngster, but it turned out she was already pushing 30 and just naturally behaves like a annoying, hyperactive juvenile. Both Time and later the Guardian hired her in full knowledge of this colorful journalistic career.

Now that we’ve established Cox’s bona fides as a scribe and scholar…
(HT: The Other McCain)

Something I wrote back when Ana Marie was Wonkette and reveling in butt sex blogging:

How does that re-virgining process work again?

But what happens when she leverages this blogging gig to reenter the world of serious journalism? Will the CSM write about the scandal of falling journalistic standards at Newsweek? Will the Times editorialize about moral failure at the NYRB? Will Joel Klein scold ABC for putting a shameless, partisan scandal whore on its staff?

I think we know the answer. But it still raises an interesting question. How does the process work? What makes a serious journalist? How can you be one yesterday, not one today, and be restored to grace tomorrow?
It’s not just Time, GQ, and the Guardian who helped AMC get back in the Church of Serious Jounalism. Howard Kurtz has used her for years on Reliable Sources as a moral guide for reporters, editors, and readers.

Next, Patterico shows that David Frum is lower than pond slime.

David Frum Dances on Breitbart’s Grave

David Frum is so gosh-darned proud of his broadside last year about Andrew Breitbart, published the day of Andrew’s death, that he reprints the whole thing in full today. Those who have ever read Frum will be less than shocked to learn that Frum’s reprint is prefaced by a self-aggrandizing paean to his own amazing courage in being willing to parrot clueless left-wing criticisms of a deceased family man.
Patterico understands the true essence of this unfortunate Canadian import:

Frum pats himself on the back so often that his own palm print is permanently embedded between his shoulder blades. I can’t think of a single national figure who is more self-absorbed, other than perhaps Meghan McCain, or Barack Obama. His goal could not be more clear: to suck up to the leftists in power in Big Media, and to gain accolades from those who cluck their tongues at the likes of Andrew Breitbart.

This might seem like a good idea, I guess. It will probably get you invited to the desirable soirees. But I believe people can inherently recognize phonies. And David Frum is a phony.