Stanford GSB professors surveyed 80 managers of Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries, giving us an up-to-date look into what these executives think about their parent company – and the way their “oversight” works. The consistency in their answers is astounding.
By now anyone on Earth minimally interested in business and finance has heard about the Heinz + Kraft deal. Buffett went on CNBC to speak briefly about the deal and said especifically about Berkshire and 3G (actual quote): “We look at everything. There is no finish line in either Berkshire’s investments or 3G’s investments.”
My friend and PLD classmate Zia Patel of Wolff Olins just published an interesting interview with Dr. Reddy’s Chairman and CEO, GV Prasad. The story leads to a report called “Impossible and Now” that is extremely interesting and really worth the time. It condenses insights on leadership from 43 interviews with CEOs and surveys of over 400 employees at those companies.
Great timing by this article, called “Why Investment Performance Is a Distraction”, highlighted with “Quote of the Day” honors at Abnormal Returns. It’s always great to be reminded to NOT keep our eyes on some performance “goal”, but rather to focus on processes. That said, the article tries to expand the investment-related dangers of setting specific goals to general management situations – and I partially disagree.
As the date of the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting approaches, here are four news pieces and interesting generalities about Berkshire – including the purchase of the 20% of Iscar the company didn’t own, articles on Doug Bass, the bear who will get to ask tough, unscripted questions at the meeting and more.
This Fortune post about Warren Buffett supposedly ditching his usual playbook, now that Bernardo Hees is set to be Heinz’s new CEO, is just another example of people just not getting 3G’s/Lemann’s/AmBev’s way. Replacing the CEO with someone from the usual team should have been expected from day one – and is an integral part of this whole deal. Another interesting mistake is the insistence in looking at this as a Buffett deal.
Warren Buffett called him “the Babe Ruth of Insurance” and not just because of the turnaround at GEICO. This New York Times obituary on John Byrne is a nice read. While Buffett always says you should seek out businesses that are so good that an idiot can run it (because one will eventually), sometimes companies are blessed with great leaders as well.
As the next Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s son Howard says that he has been “preparing his whole life” for the role. Him and others in the Board, including Bill Gates, will be stewards of the company’s unique culture rather than accumulating that role with running the company AND allocating capital, as Warren did. Still a dauting task…
New profile/interview with Dr. Chris Gibson-Smith, the subject of an April 2011 post here. His background is pretty interesting and I like the way he blends many disciplines, including History, into his “toolkit”. One quote I really like was also alluded to in last year’s interview: “I think the questions you ask are always the most difficult thing; answering the question is somehow easy if you’ve found the right question. There are 100 wrong questions for you to grab onto and completely waste your time with, but if at the beginning you can find the right question…”