Contemporary art from Flowers Galleries

Blogs

Robert Heller's blog

Insight, commentary and practical know-how on management and modern art.


Top Entrepreneurs

I love Management Today’s annual list of Britain’s top 100 entrepreneurs for the light it throws on what’s really happening in the economy.

Find related articles

Leadership & Management Review : Management Today

The leadership tightrope

The Harvard Business Review started the New Year with a special issue on ‘The Tests of a Leader’ – thus continuing a trend for management to be subsumed in the w

Find related articles

Saddam Hussein's Fatal Mismanagement

There’s a management angle of deep importance in Saddam Hussein’s horrendous execution.

Find related articles

Corporate restructuring

What do you do when a series of hammer blows drives a company down almost beyond repair? If you follow the example of construction group Jarvis plc, you get in an expert repairer - or ‘Chief Restructuring Officer‘.


Find related articles

Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park

I promised to update my reflections on contemporary art after I had visited the Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park and the Saatchi-owned display of contemporary Americans at the Royal Academy. To start with my conclusions sounds like the wrong way round, but when you’re moving in a world of hype, it pays to keep a firm grasp on realities. Proceed with a conclusion? Proceed with great caution. There is a lot of rubbish just begging to be bought.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Private equity firms & CEOs greed fuels bubble

There are strange-goings in the world of management. Just a single issue of Business Week (October 30th) contains three stories that would have seemed unbelievable a few years back. The cover story is especially amazing. It’s called Gluttons at the Gate and is summarised thus: ‘private equity firms are using slick new tricks to gorge on corporate assets, helping themselves to fat fees, while leaving the companies they sell dazed and depleted’.


Find related articles

The Schlock of the New

The contemporary art boom still roars away.

Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Charles Saatchi

In common with the art world as a whole, I’ve long wondered about the economics of the country’s biggest contemporary art operator, Charles Saatchi (of course). Thanks to a remarkable interview by Stuart Jeffries, published in the Guardian, we now know a lot more. At first sight it looks quite straightforward - Marc Quinn’s notorious Self, ‘a cast of the artist’s head in nine pints of his own frozen blood’, cost Saatchi £13,000. Last year he sold the work for £1.5 million.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Civil servants’ bonuses

I was horrified to learn recently about the Home Office’s disputed bonus payments to its senior Civil Servants. My horror wasn’t only created by the various scandals which have demonstrated that the department and therefore inevitably its officials are ‘unfit for purpose’. That was the trenchant phrase used by the new Minister, John Reid, as the scandals broke about his head. No, what worries me more fundamentally is the idea that public servants should receive payments above and beyond their salaries in the same way as executives are rewarded in business at large.


Find related articles

Robert Heller: a check list for success

A millionaire reader once told me that he had built up his eminently successful business by following these dozen points from my 1980 book, The Business of Winning:

• Improve basic efficiency – all the time
• Think as simply and directly as possible about what you’re doing and why
• Behave towards others as you wish them to behave towards you
• Evaluate each business and business opportunity with all the objective facts and logic you can muster
• Concentrate on what you do well
• Ask questions ceaselessly about your performance, your markets, your objectives
• Make money; if you don’t you can’t do anything else
• Economise, because doing the most with the least is the name of the game
• Flatten the company, so authority is spread over many people
• Admit to your failings and shortcomings, because only then will you be able to improve on them
• Share the benefits of success widely among those who helped to achieve it
• Tighten up the organisation wherever and whenever you can – because success tends to breed slackness


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Fusion management

Pricing strategy

How would you like to achieve the financial benefits of a major company shake-up…

* without severance costs
* without any people/organisation issues, but…
* with an immediate impact, ‘a quick win’, that flows straight through to the bottom line?


Find related articles

Contemporary art prices

The sensational escalation of contemporary art prices continues. Bridget Riley has gone into the £1 million bracket, while a David Hockney has fetched £2.9 million. Both were record prices and represented a huge jump from the previous peak.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Mary Minnick at Coca Cola

Have you ever heard of Mary Minnick? Nor had I until Business Week, one of my favourite magazines, put her photograph on the cover (August 7). And on the contents page (very large). And on the cover story itself (occupying most of a double-page spread). And twice in the 6 further pages (small). And she’s not even a CEO or a financial shooting star.


Find related articles

Warren Buffet’s charity

Warren Buffett’s decision to route 85% of his gigantic fortune into good works via Bill Gates’ Foundation is easily explained.

Find related articles

Bill Gates’ Retirement

What’s Bill Gates up to? The Great Man has announced that he is planning to leave Microsoft’s helm at the ripe old age of 52 – in two years’ time. Why the delay?

Find related articles

British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Management Manual

In all my experience of observing and castigating management incompetence, nothing has ever matched the monumental and comprehensive mayhem wreaked by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration in the United Kingdom. Actually, the performance of the Bush White House and the key departments of state is also monstrous, but the centralisation of power in Britain makes the Blair disasters much more numerous.


Find related articles

New business management

If you haven’t caught up with the extraordinary changes in the business/management world, it’s time you did.

The best pocket-sized description of the changes, which themselves revolve around global change, comes from Geoffrey James in his book Giant Killers; the book deals with the upstart high-tech companies who have changed (that word again) our world.


Find related articles

Learn from failure

All success hinges on how well you manage one person - yourself. But you won’t get as far as you could progress simply by trying to master the lessons of success.

Since the lessons of failure teach far more than those of success, you need to look hard at yourself (and your organisation) for evidence not of wonder-performance, but of under-performance. There are only seven principles you need to master.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Bob's Bullet Points

Derek Hirst

I was wandering through the Bond Street galleries of Bonham’s when I spotted an early, small Terry Frost - and its estimate price at auction. The auctioneers were expecting £25,000-£35,000 for this not especially brilliant 1958 work. I had heard elsewhere that Sir Terry was on a roll, a posthumous one, since he died in September 2003.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Nucor management: How Nucor outperforms Amazon and eBay

Gee-whiz companies whose advantage lies in brilliant management are hard to find these days, when management seems to have gone out of fashion. But what about a red-hot rarity, a company with a reasonably long history, and which works in a heavy, dull industry - like steel?


Find related articles

Leo Castelli

I’ve just written an article on the great New York dealer Leo Castelli for the State of Art newspaper and found it a fascinating exercise.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Unique Success Proposition

These principles, taken from my book, The Unique Success Proposition, constitute the Success Quotient, which holds the key to all forms of human achievement. The USP can consist largely of:


Edward de Bono’s PO

One of the most important weapons in the armoury of the lateral thinker is another invention of Edward de Bono’s - PO. Challenge is of the essence of lateral thought, and the meaningless word PO is a meaningful way of challenging a statement or idea. Edward’s seminal book on lateral thinking contains the following very useful guide to the grammatical use of PO.


Find related articles

The Sunday Times Rich List

The Sunday Times Rich List is an endless source of entertainment, particularly looking up one’s friends and seeing how much they are estimated to earn. Estimated is the vital word, because it is so difficult for outsiders to know precisely what anybody else has in their piggy bank. This has become even more difficult given the increasing number of people, including the very, very rich, whose empires are entirely private. Seven of the ten richest of all, moreover, have overseas origins that no doubt further confuse the true picture of their vast fortunes.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : In The News, Management

Public sector consultants

I’ve been reading a deeply disconcerting book, bluntly entitled ‘Plundering the Public Sector‘, which sets out to tell the citizens how New Labour is letting consultants run off with £70 billion of our money. This profligacy is part of the general assumption by this woefully incompetent Government that private industry runs things better than the public sector, that the profit motive is the greatest guarantee of efficiency, and that if private industry employs consultants to help its decisions and their execution, then they must be a much better and more reliable solution than trusting civil servants.


Find related articles

Women artists and celebrity artists

In the Age of Celebrity, the birth of the celebrity artist was inevitable. Like top chefs, the celebrity artist has a name that means something to people to whom his or her art means nothing at all. The celebrity may even have a newspaper column - like Tracy Emin, by all odds the celebrity leader among British women artists. But she still feels that her gender is a handicap to success in her underlying career of art. Women, she has alleged, don’t get the respect or (above all) the prices that men achieve.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Creative thinking needs to be an intention

Creative thinking needs to be an intention. It is true that occasionally a chance coming-together of effects leads to a great creative idea. If you want to wait for those rather rare occasions, that is your choice. If you prefer to be able to use creative thinking on demand, then there does have to be an attitude.


Find related articles

BAe Airbus sell off

BAe gave the Government a nasty shock when announcing its plans to sell off its share, making the wings, in the Airbus.

This interest had been considered the jewel in the crown of Britain’s truncated civil aviation industry. It embodied European co-operation, tapped a huge world market with a commercially successful offering, and kept Britain in the kind of industry it should have.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : In The News, Management

Contemporary and modern art

I received an unusually inviting brochure from Sotheby’s in London the other day. It hymned the marvellous prices recorded at its recent sale, at which many new records were established as the clients splashed out on the usual suspects, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, and on less familiar visitors to the auction houses, like Pop Art pioneer Richard Hamilton and the sculptor Anthony Caro.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

AT&T and BellSouth merger madness and other figures of folly

A recent blog drew your attention to the power of Economic Value Added and its basic formula - that return on total capital, accurately defined, must exceed the cost of said capital. Fortune magazine has come up with an astonishing example of what happens when you forget this basic truth. Two American communications colossi, AT&T and BellSouth, are proposing to merge. That involves a staggering $280 billion of capital – a world record. Now, you wouldn’t take a step like that without being sure that the EVA was highly positive, would you?


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : In The News, Mergers

Warren Buffet

I never cease to marvel at the simple brilliance of Warren Buffet. Often, the brilliance lies in the simplicity - in the Sage’s phenomenal ability turn complex situations into fundamental truths. Here’s the latest:


Find related articles

Breakthrough management ideas?

Every year I turn with enthusiasm to the Harvard Business Review’s list of ‘breakthrough ideas‘. This year, published in February, there are no less than 20, ranging from The Synthesising Leader via peer-to-peer leadership development to ‘Why they call it work’. Looking through these gave me a breakthrough idea of my own. There are no breakthrough ideas at this moment in management time.


Find related articles

Entrepreneuring

Entrepreneuring being all the rage these days, I was intrigued to discover an anonymous publication on the subject dating back to 1980. Anonymous, but I know who wrote it - I did. It was based on the nine attributes of the entrepreneur, as described in the Harvard Business Review at the end of 1979. Here they are:


Find related articles

Business management consultancy Rip-off

I’ve been reading with mounting horror a book called ‘Rip-off’ by

Picasso prints sale and two rules of great collecting

There’s a most interesting sale coming up at Sotheby’s in London on March 28th. It consists of what the auction house deservedly calls a ’spectacular’ collection of Picasso prints. Etchings, Lithographs etc. tend to be regarded as secondary or even lower items in a painter’s output, but there’s nothing lower about these splendid productions.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Economic Value Added at Vodaphone

Why is Vodafone in such deep trouble, with a divided board, a disastrous share price and a crumbling strategy? This was supposed to be one European company that was beating the Americans to world domination in a key high-tech industry, mobile phones - sweeping ahead of all others by no-holds-barred acquisitions.


Find related articles

More Creative solutions

If you enjoyed my recent blog on finding creative solutions, which contained some highly stimulating ideas for getting ideas, here are ten more to stimulate and entertain you still further. To remove creative block, try these notions:


Find related articles

Top CEOs: Revolutionary managers required

In my latest Letter to Thinking Managers I recount a fascinating list from Fortune of 10 CEOs who ‘face Herculean challenges’. Forget the challenges for the time being. The Highest Common Factor (or Lowest Common Denominator) is that the 10 companies headed by the challenged were once dominant super-giants: Citigroup in banking; Coca-Cola; Gap in clothing; Merck, once easily the best drug company; Microsoft; Morgan Stanley in investment banking; Nike; Sony; Verizon in communications; and even the mighty Wal-Mart.


Find related articles

False dichotomies

What do these have in common?

Right/wrong, true/false, guilty/innocent, us/them, friend/enemy, principled/unprincipled, tyranny/freedom, democracy/dictatorship, justice/injustice, natural/unnatural, civilised/barbaric, capitalist/Marxist.


Find related articles

Creative solutions

The Box, conceived and designed by the sparky marketing consultancy Omobono for its client, the East of England Development Agency, contains 25 block-busting ideas. Ever get stuck for a creative solution to a problem? What you’ve got is a creative block. To remove it, try the Creative Block, a little box from Space For Ideas. Here are the first 15:


Find related articles

Cork Street Galleries Spring Breakfast

16 Cork Street galleries will be happy to entertain you at a Spring Breakfast on Saturday 25 March. Eats, drinks and some splendid art from 10 to 12 pm.

Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Lucy Jones correction

Correction to the recent blog about the marvellous Lucy Jones, whose new
exhibition of self-portraits (26 February to 26 March) is at Flowers East,
82 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP (0207 920 7777) – not at Flowers Central in Cork
Street. The latter venue, however, is definitely the place to come on
Saturday 25 March, when 16 of the Street’s galleries will be happy to
entertain you at a Spring Breakfast. Eats, drinks and some splendid art from
10 to 12 pm.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Self Portraits, Lucy Jones and Rachel Heller

Few artists get through their careers without painting a self-portrait - more likely, many self-portraits. The model is always available, always free of fee, and as fascinating as any self-exploration. Yet very few painters and drawers return to the motif as often as the immortal Rembrandt, or make the self-portrait a major, distinctive element of their output - like one of my favourites, Lucy Jones, whose new exhibition at Flowers Central (26 February to 26 March) concentrates entirely on these wonderful self-studies.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Executive pay

Whether or not they manage their companies well, US executives are certainly highly skilled and magnificently successful at managing the relationship between their finances and those of the corporation. Between 1993 and 2003, according to a pair of economists, quoted in the New Yorker, the top five executives of 1,500 US firms were paid a total of $350 billion - averaging a billion for every four management teams.


Find related articles

Art price boom

The art world is trying to digest the results of a bunch of sales in early February that must change the way the market approaches Post-War and Contemporary Art. Many of the prices fetched were stunning, and fully bear out my view that an old-fashioned art boom, fuelled by immense amounts of money in private hands, is well under way. When Christies can sell two Francis Bacons for £5 million a piece on the same day, my diagnosis can hardly be denied.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

How to manage in an unpredictable world

The FT is delivering free lectures online with leading business schools.

This week’s lectures are How to Manage in an Unpredictable World from Professor Don Sull of London Business School.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Management

Mergers and acquisitions

Managers like to think of themselves as hard-boiled, fact-driven realists who (at least for internal consumption) tell it like it is. On the contrary, they are emotional, self-deluding dreamers who often part company with reality – and by a long distance. I’ve long treasured evidence of this uncomfortable truth – but even I was (slightly) surprised by a survey conducted by KPMG on the always thorny matter of mergers and acquisitions.


Find related articles

What gives art value?

There’s a sale coming up on February 8 whose results will be eagerly watched by all those interested in Post-War and Contemporary Art. Christie’s has got together more than 60 lots, shown in a lush catalogue that’s a work of art in itself. The sale raises a number of intriguing questions, such as what gives art its value, and why is one brilliant artist’s work worth so much more than another’s?


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Turnarounds

Leadership continues to be deeply in fashion. I’ve just received a special issue of the Harvard Business Review on the subject. And three management consultants, Stuart Slatter, David Lovett and Laura Barlow (both the latter coming from AlixPartners), have tackled one vital aspect of leadership - getting businesses out of trouble, Their book, Leading Corporate Turnaround, covers one of my own favourite themes down the years.


Find related articles

Management fashion

Is management going out of fashion?

Find related articles

Business management : Management Styles, Management Theory
Leadership & Management Review : Management Today

Art Fairs

The 2006 Art Fair season is well under way - Palm Beach has just finished, and London opens on January 18th. Dealers as usual are packing up their wares and their bags in preparation for upcoming fairs. Should you, like them, make a point of attending the fairs that are near either to where you live, or where the art is most to your taste? They cost you time and money for the ticket - but it’s not hard to get a freebie from one of the scores of competing dealers: and there are always many goodies on display.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

How not to choose a leader

With the forced departure of Charles Kennedy, all three of Britain’s major political parties have either changed leaders or undertaken to do so, i.e. Tony Blair. In all three cases, wobbly performance played a major part in the rise of discontent.


Find related articles

Art investment funds

I was writing a piece for State of Art, the new quarterly news magazine, when I was reminded of The Skin of the Bear. More properly La Peau de l’Ours, this was the brainchild of Parisian financier Andre Level. He set up an art investment fund with that title, persuading a dozen other art lovers to contribute 250 francs each year to buy modern paintings. The investors would hang the works in their homes during the ten years before the fund cashed in by selling off the collection.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Andrew Grove

I’ve always been a big fan of Andrew Grove, the engineer who turned the inventiveness of Intel’s founders into one of the greatest money machines of all time. He’s also the author of two business books - High Output Management and Only the Paranoid Survive - that I have no hesitation in recommending. Grove has never lost his academic leanings despite his stunning record as a hard-nosed businessman.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Management, Managers

Rentokil Initial Pensions, employee share schemes and business success

Bad news for future pensioners: chills must have run down many spines with the news that Rentokil Initial may become the first major British company to close its final salary scheme to existing staff, as opposed to newcomers. The board wants to move everybody into a ‘defined contribution’ scheme, in which the pension costs are not open-ended. The directors are trying to escape from the bind that has left many firms facing huge deficits in their pension funds - £325 million in this instance.


Find related articles

January 2006

What gives art its value?

January 31, 2006


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

November 2006

Corporate restructuring

November 8, 2006


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

October 2006

The Schlock of the New

October 15, 2006


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

September 2006

Charles Saatchi

September 16, 2006


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

August 2006

Pricing strategy

August 8, 2006


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

June 2006

Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

May 2006

Derek Hirst

May 21, 2006


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

April 2006

Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

March 2006

Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

February 2006

False dichotomies

February 28, 2006

Dichotomies impose a false and sharp (knife-edge discrimination) polarisation on the world and allow no middle ground or spectrum … It becomes impossible to step across the boundary without at once being seen as directly in the enemy camp. Click title for more


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

December 2005

Tom Phillips

December 26, 2005


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

November 2005

Business crisis management

November 30, 2005


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

October 2005

Marconi takeover

October 30, 2005


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

September 2005

Katrina Management

September 11, 2005

People management and Hurricane Katrina: One of the many causes of the Katrina disaster was totally avoidable. That’s the low calibre of the people who were supposed to be in charge.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : archives

Why most business takeovers go wrong

‘Would you but a used car from this man?’ asked a famous anti-Nixon campaign in the States. Now I’ve another question: ‘Would you buy a company that sells used cars to high-credit risk customers?’. Not I, forsooth. That sounds about as safe as going round putting out fires in ammunition dumps. But that is precisely what a firm called Provident Financial did when it bought Yes Car at the end of 2002.


Find related articles

Tom Phillips

The first important painting I ever bought was by an artist, previously unknown to me, Tom Phillips. It was hung by a Bond Street dealer, in a mixed show chosen by a critic. Consider Our Haven contained nine separate images of Burnham-on-Sea, set in painted borders. The images were taken from picture postcards of Burnham, small sections of which had been enlarged and most lovingly painted. The title and other information were stencilled in a trademark style which only enhanced the nostalgic charm of the concept.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Buy a business

HOW NOT TO BUY A BUSINESS

• Have a strategic grand design and make it a ‘must’ - by definition that excludes all other possibilities.
• Never review the strategy - and don’t promptly modify or scrap plans if events contradict them.
• Make sure that the strategic buy plays not to your strengths, but to your weaknesses.
• Increase the initial risk exposure by unplanned pre- and post-acquisition initiatives - like raising the price.
• Take external and internal approvals of the strategic stroke as confirming its rightness - and always ignore Cassandras, internal or external.
• Don’t let anybody lower down criticise the strategy or the buy, and over-commit top management to the deal
• Apply the buyer’s accepted rules and routines - without their being checked for relevance.
• Discourage messengers from bringing bad news - and ensure that corrective reaction to bad news is dangerously delayed.
• Do not admit failure: rather, deny it.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Bob's Bullet Points

Edward de Bono: Parallel thinking

I have often told how I once asked a class of 30 twelve-year-olds in a school in Australia to give me their reaction to the suggestion that they should each receive a small amount of money each week for going to school. All thirty thought it was a great idea since they would be able to buy sweets, comics and chewing-gum.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : de Bono Says

Investing in art

I see that some smart City fellows are setting up a fund to invest in contemporary art, which they regard as a sure thing and a source of great potential returns. Well, yes and no. Various studies at various times have shown that on average, investments in art have been disappointing in the long term. They yield no income, and they are relatively illiquid - auctions are the only outlet for disposals and high prices quoted by galleries may very well not equate with the net proceeds from a sale.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Leadership and management

I get the feeling that in the constant struggle between leadership and management, leadership is getting the upper hand. The conflict arises because the failure of highly trained and presumably intelligent managers is attributed to poor leadership (look at General Motors now), while failure of dynamic leaders is attributed to their lack of interest in and application of the lessons of good business management.


Find related articles

Business processes essential for success

The old Andersen Consulting, now Accenture, once identified three business processes essential for success:

• product development;

• customer relationship management;

• the supply chain - all areas where managers in general customarily fail to take excellent advice that would greatly improve their performance.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Bob's Bullet Points

Business success from new ideas

Ordering some books for my American grandson’s Christmas present, I remembered that my bookseller, Amazon, had played a most significant part in both the reality and the folklore of electronic revolution. The folklore mostly dwelt on Amazon’s trading losses as evidence that the internet was a passing fad which businesses could safely ignore as they went about their affairs in the traditional way. The cynics paid no attention to the reality - like the huge build-up in customer details that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, was enjoying, or the enviable size of his cash flow. The deniers believed what they wanted to believe, which was that Amazon was going down the tubes.


Find related articles

Hype, Dali, dealers and (buying) Early Is Best

My last art blog covered the art market in general, and in particular the interesting nexus between artist Chris Ofili, his dealer Victoria Miro, and the Tate. I used this as an illustration of the way higher and higher prices have been driven by greed and then drive that powerful force to greater and greater excess. My remarks attracted a wise comment from Mike von Joel. Among many distinctions, Mike edits State of Art - the new free monthly newspaper, which is enormously intelligent, informative and entertaining; that judgement has nothing to do with the facts that I’m a contributor and that State of Art is sponsored by the Angela Flowers Gallery. Anyway, here’s Mike’s wise comment:


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

New Business Ideas

Husband and wife team Andrew and Mary Bragg have written an unusual and highly effective guide to ‘Developing New Business Ideas’. As you would hope, the book is full of unusual and effective approaches. For example, the authors, like most writers on cerebration, tell you about the right brain (intuitive) and left (logical) which determine your thought patterns. But you really want to develop ‘whole brain thinking’ - and these exercises will help:


Find related articles

De Bono: Entrepreneurship needs design

I was recently speaking at an EEDA conference (East of England Development Agency). The focus was on entrepreneurship.

Are new ideas necessary for entrepreneurship? If you decide to open a corner shop in exactly the same way that corner shops operate everywhere, but do it in a new location, is that a new idea?


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : de Bono Says

The Peter Drucker legacy

In one way or another, armies of managers have sat at the feet of Austrian-born writer, lecturer and consultant Peter Drucker either literally or metaphorically.

He has just died, at the great age of 95, but his legacy is certain to live on.


Find related articles

Total Quality Management and Motivation

Here’s a stimulating enquiry from one of our readers, who wants the answer to questions that take me back to 1993, when I interviewed 20 European companies for a book on Total Quality Management. The enquiry goes to the heart of the matter.


Find related articles

Mark Brown: dolphins and dinosaurs

The difference between the bad old/present days and innovative 21st century management is charted exactly by a questionnaire which the English psychologist Mark Brown uses to differentiate between ‘dolphins’ and ‘dinosaurs’. His excellent book The Dinosaur Strain shows you how to score your organisation from 0 to 6 along the distance between the left hand and right-hand sides:


Find related articles

Business forecasting: use your own judgement

All businesses must operate within societies which are rife with predictions on every side. The predictions, on everything from the year-end level of the stock market to the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, are produced by pundits. Some of them are organised into Think Tanks of one kind or another, some are professional commentators in the media, some are colleagues and competitors, and so on. But how good are their predictions? And is one type or set of pundits more reliable than others?


Find related articles

Edward de Bono - The intelligence trap

Unfortunately, many people with a high intelligence actually turn out to be poor thinkers. They get caught in the ‘intelligence trap’, of which there are many aspects. For example, a highly intelligent person may take up a view on a subject and then defend that view (through choice of premises and perception) very ably. The better someone is able to defend a view, the less inclined is that person actually to explore the subject. So the highly intelligent person can get trapped by intelligence, together with our usual sense of logic that you cannot be more right than right, into one point of view. The less intelligent person is less sure of his or her rightness and therefore more free to explore the subject and other points of view.


Chris Ofili at the Tate

There’s a fine old-fashioned row over the Tate Gallery and its purchase of The Upper Room, representing the 13 Stations of the Cross, by the British artist Chris Ofili for a healthy £600,000.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Business crisis management

In The Complete Negotiator, Gerard I. Nierenberg gives us nine points for managing in a crisis:

• In a crisis, always sit down and think hard about your decision, and for as long as needed (or allowed) about ways in which you can resolve it.
• It has to be you. That applies even if somebody else has to carry the burden of action - how you brief, direct, and control the other or others will be vital to the outcome.
• In seeking a solution, look for a simple answer that you can apply, rather than a complex one that requires many hands.
• Since you’re unlikely to get that answer by conventional thinking, try deliberately to be unconventional, original, lateral.
• Part of the decision is how to use yourself. In any situation where you’re an unknown factor, what people know about you is what you choose to let them know - and that can be a powerful weapon on your side.
• In a bad situation, don’t hesitate to use shock as a tool. It works much better than fright. But you must do something to bring home the urgency of the position.
• Work in the knowledge that even in a good situation, operations can always be improved - and that those who are best placed and best equipped to improve them are the operators themselves.
• In a crisis, quick and decisive action is generally much more effective than deliberate and delayed response.
• Second-guessing the opinions of those in the front line is never done by good generals. If the actions taken by subordinates are wrong, you’ll know soon enough.


Find related articles

Conrad Black and corporate fraud

The astounding, disgusting run of huge corporate fraud scandals features nothing nastier than the accusations against Conrad Black. I can hardly bear to call him ‘Lord Black’, since the peerage was plainly and richly undeserved. But the cases all contained thick veins of Blackness. I define that as treating money which belongs to the company and thus its shareholders as if it were the sole possession of the greedy plutocrats involved.


Find related articles

Global Future Forum Briefing

The 2005 Global Future Forum commissioned an extensive survey
amongst renowned futurists, academics and leaders of both public and private
organisations around the world. The objective of the survey was to establish
their expert views on a variety of issues likely to affect organisations
during the next five years.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Management

Peter Drucker - Efficient v Effective

I promised to let you into the late Peter Drucker’s secrets of managing effectively. First, how good are you at the five functions of the manager?

1. setting objectives
2. organising the group
3. motivating and communicating
4. measuring performance
5. developing people


Find related articles

Swedish suicide rates, WMD & evidence based management

The European economies (and this now includes Britain, no longer the good odd man out) are regularly berated for their relatively dismal economic performance.

Find related articles

Bob's Blog : In The News, Management

Edward de Bono - Why thinking must change

The most important tool any manager has available - and which every manager should use constantly and knowingly - is thought. Edward de Bono has long been arguing that the traditional modes of thinking are not enough.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : de Bono Says

The war of Art

You’re bound to have noticed the civil war that’s long been raging in the art world. At most times in history, there’s been a battle between the conservatives (the ‘ins’) and the progressives (the ‘outs’). Thus, the Impressionists were derided by the salon painters of their day, but the new painting went on to conquer the world. Since then, art has become led more and more by non-traditional work. The bulk of artists have continued to produce ‘plinth sculpture’ and ‘easel painting’, but artists who don’t (and very possibly can’t) paint, sculpt or draw now hog the headlines, win the prizes, command the big prices and name the game.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Robert Goizueta : separating the sheeps from the goats

You need a way to separate good projects (the sheep) from the goats. Here’s how the great Robert C.Goizueta created enormous wealth at Coca-Cola by this vital separation:


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Management, Managers

Ten Innovatory Ideas

Here are ten innovatory ideas:

• Concentrate on areas where you already have strengths
• Work concurrently – not in sequence – from the earliest possible stage by bringing all affected interests together as a team
• Decentralise the task to individuals or business units – existing or special purpose
• Bring together people of different cultures, backgrounds and abilities
•Pick leaders from people with relevant past success
• Plan up-front, and thoroughly, before starting any projects
• Forget protocol – encourage good ‘unauthorised’ projects
• Invest in success by backing proven good projects to the hilt, but . . .
• Identify the weak projects early on – and put them out of their misery
• Remove barriers between people, departments and outsiders (like suppliers), so that good ideas aren’t blocked by vested (or dumb) interests.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : Bob's Bullet Points

Peter Drucker

A great man has gone. The greatest man in the history of management, in fact. That can only mean Peter Drucker, who has just died at the age of 95. I’ve known Peter, and enormously liked him, for nearly forty years. He had more wisdom than anybody I’ve ever met and possessed a generosity of spirit that made him a marvellous friend and splendid teacher - at whose feet sat many of the business greats of the second half of the 20th century.


Find related articles

Patrick Hughes

I was showing some art lovers from Cambridge around my collection the other day and made an unexpected discovery. Although I’ve never obeyed one basic rule of art collecting - concentrate! - my cumulative haphazard decisions have in fact established a clear pattern. I’d looked for, subconsciously more than consciously, artists, undervalued in relation to their talent, and all people whose work had very strong aesthetic qualities. Looking at the dozen key holdings, they are all figurative or representational - though I dearly love abstract art.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

De Bono: how to get from good to the best

Do you recognise these three situations? In the latest monthly edition of Letter to Thinking Managers, Edward de Bono describes them as follows:

Situation One

‘The good is the enemy of the best’. This means that we stop thinking when we have reached a ‘good result’. Had we gone on thinking a bit more, we might have found an even better result.


Find related articles

Effective Meetings

One image from the coverage of the French riots sticks in my mind - and it’s not one of those blazing cars. It’s the huge number of senior politicians and their advisors photographed round an enormous table for crisis meeting after meeting. Their numbers absolutely guaranteed that no effective action would be taken, for wasted day after wasted day. Governments, businesses and most other organisations are very prone to have excessive numbers of meetings and excessive numbers at meetings.


Find related articles

Rupert Murdoch - making a virtue out of being late?

I can’t remember business times anything like as exciting as the present. The onrush of new ideas, new products, new services, new people, leaves even the perilous days of the dot.com boom far behind. Every one of these new developments presents an opportunity; the key to success for any management has to be its ability to spot and seize opportunities before they vanish from sight. Strike while the iron is hot, in other words.


Find related articles

How do you spot an up-and-coming artist?

How do you spot an up-and-coming artist?


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Government management: The ferocious riots in Paris made me revise my opinion that France is a well-governed country

The ferocious riots in Paris made me revise my opinion that France is a well-governed country. But then came a second thought. Which country does deserve that compliment? None of the mainland EU states need apply. Japan is only now heaving itself out of a multi-year man-made economic hole. The US government has revealed its incompetence shamefully by the mishandling of the Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans and beyond: and that comes on top of other calamities, led by the appalling decision to go to war against Iraq, compounded by the grotesque mishandling of the war’s aftermath.


Find related articles

Edward de Bono - Six Thinking Hats

My last blog spoke most warmly of Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats - first described in his excellent book with that as its title. For those who want more information, try the book or the web. Master its lessons and you will no longer be locked into extremely counter-productive mental (for which read ‘emotional’) attitudes. You also learn how to understand the most crucial activity in which you engage - thinking.


Find related articles

W.Edwards Deming - Fourteen Points of quality management

The Two Big Ds, Drucker and Deming, are my two favourite management gurus. Peter Drucker is best known for the many books in which he expounded his famous theories about the practice of management. W.Edwards Deming was a supreme practitioner, whose teaching pointed the Japanese towards the star of quality management on which their post-war breakthrough was based. He summarised his ideas in these far-famed Fourteen Points.


Find related articles

Marconi Takeover

The last act of a Greek tragedy has been played with Erikson’s takeover of Marconi. There are many elements and actors in this sad story, but the one I can’t get out of my mind is Arnold Weinstock. In the early ’60s, when I first met him, Arnold was head and shoulders above any other manager in Britain - as he proved by turning the General Electric Company from basket case to stock market star. His methods were simple and direct. They included:


Find related articles

An aesthetic investment

Here’s a news item you won’t have noticed: a New York auction house recently sold a painting by the Scottish artist Peter Howson for $180,000 (see an example of his work below). That caught my eye, not because of the price, which is very far from the million or so which a few British artists can command, but because it’s a record for this artist - and I advise a fund that holds 14 excellent specimens of his work. 180,000 x 14 makes quite a pretty total, especially since the whole lot only cost £57,000 originally. One of the 14 pictures alone is worth over half that.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : The Art Gallery

Signs and Causes of Recession

The media and private business meetings alike are reflecting increasing concern about the world economy. There are plenty of dynamic signs, like the boom in mergers and acquisitions and the fabulous private wealth still being created round the world. But these are often harbingers of approaching calamity, of boiling over and leaving famine behind where there had been feast.


Find related articles

Bob's Blog : In The News

Six Thinking Hats

One of the great pleasures and profits of my ‘Thinking Mangers’ work is that I get to handle Edward de Bono’s monthly contributions to Letter To Thinking Managers we jointly produce. Over the years, I have benefited greatly from his wit and wisdom. Somebody asked me the other day which of his contributions to ‘thinking’ I find most valuable. That varies from situation to situation, but I’ve a special spot in my heart and head for the Six Thinking Hats.


Find related articles

10 Spartan Rules from Hideo Yoshida

As a management writer and teacher, I’ve always loved reading and using lists. In a few words, a good list can encapsulate more wisdom than many a weighty tome.

In some companies the corporate credo emerges as a list which is intended to guide all employees as they do the master’s will. No two lists are the same, of course, and we’ll be publishing some of the brightest and best that have come my way over time.


Find related articles

Management Gurus: If you're so expert at management, why aren't you rich?

All management gurus are liable to one potentially embarrassing question. If you’re so expert at management, why aren’t you rich? The best answer, of course, is to say that you are. That’s certainly true of Tom Peters, who has just celebrated his 60th birthday with a private publication entitled ‘Sixty’, containing 60 highly valuable thoughts. They range from ‘Revolution Now!’ to ‘Fun…is not a…Four-letter Word’ – typically pungent Peterisms.


Find related articles

Katrina Management

Force 5 Management

One of the many causes of the Katrina disaster was totally avoidable. That’s the low calibre of the people who were supposed to be in charge.

Whether you look at the defence systems in place against a force 5 hurricane (none) or the dead bodies littering the streets a week after the calamity, the supposedly responsible people failed in their tasks.


Find related articles

Custom Search

RSS

Syndicate content

User login