LETTERS: Management training could only be good for Labour

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The Independent Online
BY dismissing the initiative of Tony Blair to send his colleagues to a management school and instead extolling the merits of 20-year-old political memoirs, Alan Watkins demonstrates a parochial, 1970s-rooted belief in the supreme knowledge of Westminster-based politics ("Give them books, Mr Blair, not management games", 29 October).

Has he failed to notice how dramatically British society and organisations, including the civil service, have changed in recent years, with the extensive use of agencies and the greater role of managers rather than traditional administrators? Such changes demand new knowledge and approaches.

Most private and public sector organisations have benefited from new management ideas. The British motor industry provides a good example. Overwhelmed by poor management and inflexibility, the industry was on the point of collapse 15 years ago. But following the adoption of many of the management ideas Mr Watkins dismisses (such as Total Quality Management, kaizan, just-in-time, teamworking and employee empowerment) the industry experienced nothing short of a revolution in working practices, quality and customer satisfaction. Many of these ideas were imported from Japan, proving that progress and success is achieved by learning from others.

I have read some of the political diaries Mr Watkins recommends. Having also read a number of management texts I suggest that future cabinet ministers ignore Alan Watkins and read both political memoirs and current management thinking.David McConnell

The Society of Motor

Manufacturers and Traders

London SW1