The seventh floor of the CIA — the executive level — "smells like men," according to Steve Coll in this blog. "During the past two decades, the suite has turned over like a fifteenth-century European throne room." Despite the high rate of turnover, none of the white men who have recently led the CIA — and the CIA director has always been a white man, Coll notes several times in this piece — has come to the agency with a real appreciation for its "vast civil-service bureaucracy" or a "deep, long-range vision about how intelligence should change in the coming decades." Moreover, "many directors have seemed to regard their job as a kind of high-stress operational joy ride," involving unmarked planes, cigars, and exotic locales — sort of like a real-life Bond movie with worse suits and lamer cars. "The hubris embedded in this way of leading has surely contributed to the high failure rate, including in the case of Petraeus." Time for a new kind of leader, he says. Bonus points for extra x-chromosomes.
Meanwhile, on HBR.org, don't miss Jeff Pfeffer's take on Petraeus, and what he calls "the rise of narcissistic leaders." Despite said rise, he notes, "We seldom hear of powerful women who can't control their urges." Hmm. Do we think that's because of innate differences — or because there are so many fewer powerful women?
Spencer Ackerman is wildly self-flagellating in this piece, trying to make up for being wildly deferential to Petraeus in his earlier coverage of the man. It's a little over-the-top. But I present it here as a useful primer in how to get favorable press coverage. As it turns out, that's not hard: some off-the-record candid comments, a few good on-the-record quotes, and an informal workout session or two, and we'll be lining up to say nice things about you. Especially if you actually answer critical questions, instead of ending the interview. If that's being "drawn into a cult," sign me up.
When you travel abroad, put your iPad in the hotel safe: Foreign intelligence services, looking for corporate secrets, make a practice to coopt hotel staffs into providing access to portable devices left unattended in rooms, according to a new white paper on business cybersnooping. Worldwide, spying threats from foreign governments are on the rise; China’s intelligence services, for example, seek to exploit Chinese citizens or people with family ties to China who can use their insider access to corporate networks to steal trade secrets using removable media devices or email. Compartmentalization of sensitive data can help, the report says. —Andy O'Connell
Are IKEA's Rapid Growth Plans Hurting Its Unique Corporate Culture? (Financial Times)
Why Coke Cost a Nickel for 70 Years (NPR)
"Glencallen 50 Year" and Other Great, Fake Hollywood Products (FastCoCreate)