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Worth stating the obvious

THE view that "just because it is obvious does not mean it is not worth saying" has kept management consultants in business for years. Now one of their number has founded a new career on the same premise.

Richard A Moran, national director of organisational change for Price Waterhouse in the United States, has followed up his best-selling Never Confuse a Memo with Reality with another collection of business sayings - or, as he puts it, "organisational constants". Beware Those Who Ask for Feedback covers the whole gamut, from the blindingly obvious to the basic and from the folksy to the world-weary. But somehow it strikes a chord.

Perhaps it is Mr Moran's claim that many of the pithy two to three-liners have been sent in by readers of his first volume and are thus real. Or maybe it is the fact that less really is more, that there can be more wisdom in one sentence than in a whole management textbook. The author's own view is that the success of the original was down to a combination of truth, accessibility, relevance and price. The same could be said of the present volume. For a mere £4.99, the reader can buy no fewer than 371 terse tips.

Some, such as "Don't pick your teeth with the business card of the client who just gave it to you", are so basic that they have all the portentousness of a Chinese proverb. Others, such as "Keep a running record of the good things you do throughout the year. Your boss will keep the record of the not-so-good things", display just the right kind of organisational cynicism. Still others, such as "Make sure your children know you are proud of them", are just too American.

A few are just plain goofy - such as "The sun will always shine on your computer screen when you don't want it to". And still fewer are genuinely insightful. But No 221 - "If people won't work with you, or you never get picked for projects, you had better ask why. People learn valuable lessons when choosing up sides on the playground." - is not just funny; it is true.

Readers from all kinds of organisations will recognise their colleagues and their employers - if not themselves - on almost every page.

One would be tempted to say that it should be available for reference on every desk in the land if it were not likely to pose a huge impediment to getting the job done. But then again, maybe we have become too grey and hard-working.

After all, there cannot be many business folk who live by Mr Moran's final entry - "At the end of a great week, when you get in the car, put in the long-version tape of "Louie, Louie" and play it as loud as it will go."

Beware Those Who Ask for Feedback is published by HarperBusiness.