Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Solid business writing - on Disney MagicBands, Y Combinator, NBC News & Starbucks

Some really good recent business stories included two features from Fast Company and one each from Vanity Fair and The Atlantic.

The Fast Company pieces were by Austin Carr and Max Chafkin with the Carr piece titled "The Messy Business of Reinventing Happiness." It's a lengthy feature about the MagicBands that were introduced at Walt Disney World in Orlando (and which were written about in fairly gushing terms in a recent Wired Magazine story) and this look by Carr is a much more nuanced look at how difficult at times it can be to get things done in a corporate environment. Particularly fascinating to me was how the Imagineers responsible for much of the great creative output at Disney Parks appear to have been largely left out of the process, and as a result haven't really bought into the concept of the MagicBands. The piece by Chafkin was also a solid one with "Y Combinator President Sam Altman is Dreaming Big" about the Silicon Valley business incubator.

From Vanity Fair, Bryan Burrough wrote "The Inside Story of the Civil War for the Soul of NBC News" about Brian Williams and it's very much an "inside baseball" type look at corporate dysfunction and poor talent management and the last piece to note here was "The Upwardly Mobile Barista" by Amanda Ripley for The Atlantic. Ripley is the author of the excellent book The Smartest Kids in the World (which I reviewed here) and in this recent magazine piece she writes about the corporate initiative at Starbucks to fund university education for it's employees. Ripley gives a thorough look at the hiccups in the program, but all in all, it really appears that Starbucks attempting to do a very good thing.