Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sir John Harvey-Jones

Man in a Shed was sorry to learn of Sir John Harvey-Jones passing away after a long illness.

There will be better obituaries elsewhere, but as someone who was sponsored by ICI through University, Sir John was a bit of a hero. I watched bits of his TV shows, but most of all picked up the positive message that things could be turned around, done better and British Industry be successful and management was key to these possibilities. After the slow decline of the 1970's those were far from obvious messages.

It is a shame manufacturing industry has fallen so far from the public eye in recent years. We panic that people aren't buying enough in the shops - even if we have to reduce interest rates and fire up our debt to do it - but no one asks if we make enough or provide enough services to pay for it any more.

When was the last time you heard a discussion on TV or the radio about the competitveness of our manufacturing or its decline ? The ultimate almost silent (from the general public's view point) take-over of ICI shows how little people seem to care or worry.

Sir John was one of the few industrialists who anyone is able to remember, let alone remember fondly, and has been an inspiration to many people. I hope his family take comfort in those facts at this time.

A few quotes lifted from ITN are below:

    "Leadership is the priceless gift that you earn from the people who work for you. I have to earn the right to that gift and have to continuously re-earn that right."

    "I've spent 30 years going around factories. When you know something's wrong, nine times out of ten it's the management - in truth, because people aren't being led right. And bad leaders invariably blame the people."

    "Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. And the nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression."

    "There are no bad troops, only bad leaders."

See also this from Tony Sharp on meeting Sir John.

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