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by Alan Hargreaves

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Warning: Management
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Horses for Courses

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The Principles of Outsourcing

I once considered early retirement. We’d sold our core business. Children were approaching school’s end. My head was saying do something different. 

Horses were already part of my family. My wife was a riding instructor; one daughter was an equine nurse; another would shortly become a full-time equestrian. Yes, breeding sport horses seemed like a good idea.

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Feeling apprehensive? That's good.

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Certainly uncertain

Ever been put off by the overconfident sales person who expresses complete certainty about everything? 

I don’t just mean car salesmen or real estate agents. We can include many a transaction-based dialogue, from insurance brokers to shop assistants. Early in the year, otherwise respected market commentators turn to flawed futurism as they come under pressure to forecast what’s ahead.

I prefer those who are confident but also realistic. It turns out most people do.

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Keeping it really simple

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Sticking to the manager’s knitting

Managers emerge from a variety of career paths — production, logistics, sales, marketing, or finance, sometimes admin. Others were there when it started; some are managers because they own it. 

Your history informs your management style, but once in charge, you have to manage functions outside your own experience. 

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Staying agile in uncertain times

Keep moving, even if just a little

We learn the theory of momentum early. Sit on a stationary bicycle and it falls over. Pedal a little and it stays upright. Once you’re moving, you’ve got some control. You can go straight ahead or change direction. But go faster and the risk rises.

Uncertainty makes staying stopped or accelerating rapidly equally risky. To paraphrase Pink Floyd, no one tells you when to run. Do nothing and you miss the starting gun.

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'I' Vs 'We'

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Why one works better than the other

It’s fashionable among motivational speakers and self-help books to push people to ‘own’ things. There’s nothing wrong with the idea. The problem is: exactly what is it they are supposed to ‘own’?

Take this conversation with an executive in a property services company. A customer had overstepped the line, setting up in premises ahead of time and prior to completion of certain tasks the company always required before occupation. Her responsibility was to oversee the transition.

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