The five-minute management idea: learning to love management
A weekly shot of new thinking for business leaders: What drives managers to manage – and write a book about itGuest blogger Julia Hobsbawm
I have been quietly obsessed with management ever since I began my career. It may have something to do with being unconventional – I did not complete a degree and worked my way up in publishing, television and briefly politics – that I craved some kind of process and order.
THE MANAGEMENT BOOK
Or it may have been that alongside a lifelong love of literary fiction, I actually adore the prose of great management writers. Who doesn’t rank Good To Great by Jim Collins, or anything by Peter Drucker, as words of great beauty as well as importance? I know I do.
Early on in my haphazard self-made career I worked as a TV researcher at the BBC, on the nation’s top light entertainment show, Wogan. I was something of a cuckoo in the nest, having arrived from publishing and so any guest with a book out was usually given to me. I had the great luck to be given the late Sir Peter Parker, former chairman of British Rail Board, and a great business polymath to pre-interview, when his autobiography For Starters: The Business of Life was published in 1989.
THE LIFE-CHANGING CONVERSATION
I was twenty-five years old and I ended up having a life-changing conversation with Sir Peter about management. I realised that management is about two key things and that both of those things interest and excite me:
1) wanting change to happen and making change possible, and
2) communication: you have to be understood by your audiences in your mission and to that end dialogue and understanding must be embedded structurally into any organisation.
THE PEERS’ WISDOM
Twenty five years later, having become an entrepreneur and run small businesses inspired not least by other great management thinkers I had the great fortune to meet along the way, amongst them Charles Handy, Stefan Stern, Margaret Heffernan and Lynda Gratton, I began to write Fully Connected: Surviving & Thriving in an Age of Overload.
WHY WE NEED TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT MANAGEMENT
I wanted to present my ideas in a business context, which was nevertheless accessible to a wide audience, and to do so underpinned by a passionate belief in this: Management matters.
Julia Hobsbawm is the founder of Editorial Intelligence and a member of the European board of the Workforce Institute. She holds Honorary Visiting Professorships at London’s Cass School and at the University of Suffolk. She is author of Fully Connected: Surviving & Thriving in an Age of Overload, which was nominated for CMI Management Book of the Year 2018