OBITUARY : Christopher Lorenz - Obituaries - News - The Independent

OBITUARY : Christopher Lorenz

In a career at the Financial Times that spanned over 20 years, Christopher Lorenz made a significant contribution as an interpreter and synthesiser of the theory of management and its practical applications. Unusually for a journalist, he spanned the worlds of business, economics, politics, management, design and academia and gave new ideas and insights to all of them. He had a fiercely critical approach and independent mind which cut through the flummery of "new" trends and nostrums.

After reading history at Churchill College, Cambridge, Lorenz joined the Financial Times in 1968, learning his critical competence on the company comments columns and then the foreign desk. His work took him in 1971 to Frankfurt, where he increased both the quality and quantity of the FT's German coverage at an important time in Britain's run-up to entry to the EEC; and then back to London to become the FT's first electronics correspondent. His ability to integrate and explain the interconnection of science, technology, management and business made a significant contribution to the repositioning of the FT as a world newspaper in the 1970s.

Lorenz's move to the newspaper's recently created Management Page in 1977 saw him blossom as he revelled in the complex relationships between business, management and their external environments. He transformed the page into one of the central pillars of the new-style FT by applying a more rigorous theoretical discipline to the world of management and business, and through the pioneering inclusion of critical analysis alongside case studies.

His professionalism and high ethical standards put many business people and academics under public inspection, and not all of them were appreciative at the time. However, these same qualities gave him unrivalled access to many a corporate boardroom world-wide that was completely out of bounds to others. Typical of this was his invitation to be a fly on the wall during the cor- porate restructuring of British Petroleum.

Lorenz's continuing interest in the design and processes of management, and later of the nature of trans-national organisations, led to many definitive articles which put into perspective the glib and fashionable phrases issuing from unthinking boards. He wrote one of his last essays for me - "Design as a Strategic Management Resource", in Developing Strategic Thought (1994) - and at the time of his death was interested increasingly in the growing band of researchers and practitioners differentiating between managing and directing.

A lifelong interest in design stemmed from the late 1960s, when he became intrigued with his wife Clare's work as an architect and her extensive selection of designer friends at the Architectural Association School during one of its most prolific periods. This interest continued through his work in promoting the ideas of the Design Council and was made manifest in his book The Design Dimension (1986), which was published in seven languages.

Chris Lorenz had a marked sense of the absurd and his friends will remember him as much for his and Clare's ludicrous croquet matches in their sloping garden on Highgate Hill; the hilarious mulberry-picking parties where guests were given a plastic raincoat to protect themselves from over-ripe fruit and all participants ended looking as though they had been involved in a chain-saw massacre; his lifelong obsession with Nottingham Forest football club, which he often managed to turn into an annual article in the FT; his understated love of 1960s rock and roll; and his fascination with steam engines, which had taken him to over 90 per cent of Britain's steam railways.

A great personal claim was that he had washed down and then driven the famed locomotive Sir Nigel Gresley.

Bob Garratt

Christopher Lorenz, journalist: born 6 May 1946; married 1971 Clare Bury (one son, one daughter); died London 7 February 1996.

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