UK: Books - The book that shook.

UK: Books - The book that shook. - 'The single book that most changed my thinking and actions was Schumacher's Small is Beautiful. I had only worked in large organisations - the Royal Navy and ICI. I was very well aware of the problems of the large - inf

by SIR JOHN HARVEY-JONES, chairman of ICI 1982-87.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

'The single book that most changed my thinking and actions was Schumacher's Small is Beautiful. I had only worked in large organisations - the Royal Navy and ICI. I was very well aware of the problems of the large - inflexibility, remoteness from the customer, tendency to reaction rather than new thinking.

Nevertheless, I accepted all these obvious problems because I believed the big battalions would always win. Schumacher turned this problem on its head, forcing me to rethink.

Schumacher's doctrine forced me to question the then prevailing orthodoxy.

I knew the motivational gains from real delegation - an art seldom exercised in business, where the impulse is for more command and control. In the 1960s I came to the conclusion that optimal effectiveness lay in a very small but focused centre and maximum delegation to the smallest possible autonomous units.

From then on I defined my task and ambition as being to operate as a collection of small businesses while still being able to command the strength of the large. That is still my belief, although the goal is as elusive as ever!'.

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