In two decades, Rebekah Brooks went from being a newspaper secretary to CEO of News International, and then fell on her sword as a phone-hacking scandal rocked Rupert Murdoch's media empire last year. Former employees and colleagues say Brooks was a charming but calculating manager who routinely used flattery, flirtation and even feigned incompetence to get her way. "She'd get you to do things. ... It was only afterwards that you realized you were manipulated," says an unidentified reporter from the defunct News of the World.
Good innovation often comes from recognizing and appropriating the good ideas of others, writes Yum Brands CEO David Novak. One example: Novak got the idea for Cool Ranch Doritos after studying the innovation that gave rise to Nacho Cheese Doritos. "We need to distinguish ourselves from the competition, but that does not mean we can’t borrow good ideas, make them our own, and do an even better job of executing them," Novak writes.
An Australian tourist took an unexpected dip in crocodile-infested water after a bungee jump went awry. Erin Langworthy, 22, plunged 364 feet into Africa's Zambezi River after her cord snapped, stranding her in rapids with the cord tangled around her feet. "It's definitely a miracle that I survived," she said.
Whether it's Pablo Picasso or Steve Jobs, many of the world's greatest creative types had muses, writes Michael Schrage. That's something bosses can encourage on their innovation teams, helping creative workers cultivate relationships with suitably inspirational people. "After all, executives hire coaches; why shouldn't creative innovators budget time and resources for a muse or two?" Schrage writes.
The Sears catalog was once a vital resource for shoppers all over the country, but that changed with the Internet. Like many other major retailers, Sears was slow to adjust to e-commerce and online marketing, and its mail-order business was wiped out by digital rivals. "Amazon is the new Sears," says retail historian Robert Spector. "It's also the new Wal-Mart, the new Barnes & Noble and the new Best Buy."