BRAIN FOOD: If I had to start again

BRAIN FOOD: If I had to start again - Both in politics and in business I would pay less attention to prevailing fashions. Take a view of your own and stick to it. If you go back to the 1960s and '70s, the prevailing fashion in business was to bring everything into the centre and have this as the main driver of the business. That was a mistake; we should have concentrated on decentralisation, certainly in the case of GEC. Once, you couldn't concentrate on one particular product, you had to diversify. Now, most businesses have discarded anything other than what is core.

by Lord Prior was chairman of GEC 1984-98 and of Allders 1984-94He was an MP and served in the Thatcher government.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Both in politics and in business I would pay less attention to prevailing fashions. Take a view of your own and stick to it. If you go back to the 1960s and '70s, the prevailing fashion in business was to bring everything into the centre and have this as the main driver of the business. That was a mistake; we should have concentrated on decentralisation, certainly in the case of GEC. Once, you couldn't concentrate on one particular product, you had to diversify. Now, most businesses have discarded anything other than what is core.

Although I've been moderately good with people, I don't think I could have avoided some of the clashes with Lady Thatcher. Particularly, I'd make sure people get on with each other. I think I would be more conscious of that and try to spend more time working as a team than perhaps I did. I handled my move from the Department of Employment to Northern Ireland extremely badly and allowed myself to be outmanoeuvred in what I was seeking to do. I would have played my cards very differently. I would also try to curb my natural verbosity. Discretion is very important but not too much, as that leads to secrecy. I would go back into politics. It is a much maligned profession but a central one. I enjoy dealing with people and their problems. I wanted to make a contribution to improving the lot of people. Humility in life is very important and that's a good lesson to have in mind.

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