Ivor Kenny is something of an elder statesman in the world of Irish business and has a well-deserved reputation as a sharp observer of management, his thoughts mined through a combination of academic study and field work with leading organisations and CEOs, he has also served on the boards of leading companies such as Smurfit Paribas Bank where he was Chairman for a number of years, was also a long-standing member of the board of Independent News & Media and was Director General of the Irish Management Institute from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.
His ideas are distilled here in a revised version of an earlier work, itself pulling together some of his key observations about organisational practice. It’s a book that transcends business and is a much about human nature as it is about corporate life. Poets and philosophers are quoted liberally here, alongside CEOs and business school academics.
Kenny has a confident and assured style and knows the value of story-telling to get his points across. We are never too far from an anecdote here. He also meets his stated aim of achieving a balance between brevity and reduction ad absurdum.
One of the key messages in the book is that management involved achieving balance between strength and resolve and humility and flexibility. The capacity to comprehend and live with ambiguity is important, he notes. Ego can be toxic and macho management doesn’t work in the longer run. As he observes: Shoot outs work best when the other guy dies. When you have to continue to work with him, such macho confrontations complicate life – inevitably he will be waiting for you in the long grass.
Among other observations here are, the secret of efficiency is enthusiasm, compulsion doesn’t work; people do not resist change, they resist loss and one of the greatest barriers to change is lack of cohesion in the top team.
There’s a lot of sound lessons here in a mere 83 pages.
Kenny was educated in Ireland, London, Paris and Harvard. He has written fourteen other books on different aspects of business and management. For twenty years he was director general of the Irish Management Institute. After his retirement from there in 1983, he became an academic and advised companies such as the Smurfit Group and the Kerry Group. This book was originally published in 2003, when most people were coming with managing with success, but in these times of austerity the basic principle hold true and the advice is still relevant. Kenny aims to distill 40 years’ experience of working with managers into short, straightforward lessons. He is not dogmatic in what he writes, however, but rather emphasises the importance of adapting systems and methods to different situations. Books Ireland
Ivor Kenny has a well-deserved reputation as a sharp observer of management, thanks to his combination of academic study and field work with leading organisations. His ideas are distilled here in a revised version of an earlier work, pulling together some of his key observations about organisational practice. The book transcends business and is as much about human nature as it is about corporate life. Poets and philosophers are quoted liberally, alongside chief executives and academics.
Frank Dillon, Booked, The Irish Times