Lucky Bob

The papers have been full of the promotion of Bob Diamond to the top job at Barclays. I am agnostic as to whether it is a good thing or not. On the one hand he is clearly able - but on the other, if he had been able to buy Lehmans or ABN Amro, as he desperately wanted to in the first iteration of the financial crisis, it would be his name in the rogue's gallery of former masters of the universe whose hubris created their nemesis.

But he was lucky....and that was always what Napoleon valued in a general. The saying that luck is only where opportunity meets preparation breaks down here. He simply got away with it because there happened to be a bigger fool out there, in the case of ABN Amro, or the FSA saved him from himself in the case of Lehmans. Just luck.

What is more interesting is the relationship between Diamond and John Varley, the patrician scion by marriage of one of the Barclay quaker dynasties. I know neither of them, but by all accounts they are polar opposites in temperament and background. Though Varley was Diamond's boss it was a primus inter pares relationship and made all the more intriguing in world of hierarchy, ego and aggression. It seems to have been one of those  productive relationships where each personality and intellect has the perception to recognise in the other qualities that they are themselves lacking. It must have had its rough edges but the result speaks for itself with Barclays one of the clear winners from the debacle.

These cooperative right brain skills are almost certainly as valuable as the left brain intellectual faculties that are so prized and nurtured by universities and business schools - but almost entirely ignored by them. Is this the new frontier for education? It should be.

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