UK: BRAIN FOOD - Matters for the mind to chew on - Sir Peter Parker.

UK: BRAIN FOOD - Matters for the mind to chew on - Sir Peter Parker. - Edited by RHYMER RIGBY, rhymer.rigby@haynet.com.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Edited by RHYMER RIGBY, rhymer.rigby@haynet.com.

If I had to start again in business, I would listen to my own advice much more. Looking back I am conscious of having lavished advice on others and not taken enough of my own medicine. I am not one for formula in management: managing anything is more of a mystery than business schools care to admit.

I started life working in a relatively large international organisation.

Next time I would not do that. Big organisations, however well intentioned (and mine was), tend to breed bureaucracy. They have not the scope for fun or moneymaking that I found in a more independent and plural existence.

It is the incalculable in management that I would be readier for next time round. The simple, unpredictable, accidental things. But here are the rules for my replay as a manager:

Eat and drink less and laugh more. Somehow find a way of sleeping twice a day. Do all your sums. Look hard, but don't forget you still have to leap. Hire people cleverer than you and delegate more than you think is good for you. Learn one more language at least; it's never too late. Find things to praise in other people, but don't trust yourself too easily about yourself - you're such a flatterer! If you're in a hanging mood, hang people - like pictures - in the best light. One minute of your time could be somebody else's day, good or bad, courtesy or curse. Round tables for meetings do make a real difference. Take your problems home. Organise into the smallest groups you can. Do not ask Frank Sinatra his view on the atomic bomb - ask him to croon. Sir Peter Parker was chairman of British Rail, 1976-83.

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