How to ride the wave of change

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The Independent Online
BY NOW many managers will be fed up with all the talk about flatter, less hierarchical organisations. The early departures of old friends and colleagues will have made them only too aware of what that amounts to.

What they need is help dealing with an environment of huge and often unpredictable change. In The Self-Reliant Manager, Chris Bones gamely tries to provide just that.

Acknowledging at the outset that not every manager is involved in developing global strategies, he points out that, nevertheless, all have a role in developing the company through managing people.

And to do this they must take the time to think. This is harder than it might at first appear, as Mr Bones, organisation development manager at United Distillers, knows from personal experience that business is an 'action-oriented' field where 'thinking time is wasted time'. But he insists managers cannot be self-reliant until they have thought through the main issues facing the business and their areas of responsibility.

In addition, managers need to have a grip on the organisation's internal environment and the challenges from outside.

There is nothing startling here. A number of management thinkers have written about managers' need to combat the decline of the 'cradle to grave' approach to careers, by taking control of their own development instead of expecting employers to train them.

Nor is the book very deep; Mr Bones does not mean it to be. Rather, it is more an introduction or aide memoire designed to stimulate reading and thinking. As a result, there are plenty of charts and checklists.

But that should not put off the prospective reader. With less structured organisations giving extra responsibilities to many people who might not consider themselves managers, an easy-to-read book that not only prepares them for the role but also acts as a ready source of reference deserves its place on the shelf.

'The Self-Reliant Manager' by Chris Bones (Routledge, pounds 7.99).

(Photograph omitted)