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1200 hours of reading rolled into one executive update

Mar 13 2017 16:16
Eugenie du Preez

Cape Town - Fin24's ace book reviewer Ian Mann has distilled the best business ideas and trends from over 100 top business books into a single, must-have executive update.

Mann, founder of Gateways Business Consultants, told Fin24 in a studio interview that no job today is safe and that clinging to 19th-century models of employment-for-life is only for the deluded.

"The reality is today, you're on your own and you have to accept that there is no job security... because there are no more jobs for life."

The trick is to see yourself as independent contractor, "so when I see myself as an independent contractor, whether I'm inside the company or outside the company, the quality of my work is going to improve, which is the only safety net I have."

Mann, however, warns that stagnation when running your own business is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

He cites the classic example of BlackBerry, a "fantastic company, I would gladly have invested all my mother's pension money in it because it was RIM - Research in Motion...  if you're constantly doing it, you can't fail. But they did."

This, says Mann, is "mainly because they lost the plot, they stopped recreating themselves, they stopped looking at what was going on around them, they stopped thinking about business and as soon as you focus on what you're doing as opposed to what's happening around you, you can get yourself  into some terrible trouble".

To help business people keep abreast of the latest business ideas and trends in the least amount of time, Mann has compiled a book that "captures everything about business in 110 pages".

The Executive Update is a distillation of up-to-the-minute business ideas and trends, drawing on over 100 book reviews he wrote for Fin24.

The book covers topics such as technology and mechanisation; the structure of organisations; obligations to stakeholders other than shareholders; leadership; the changing nature of work; psychology in business; creativity; the importance of simplicity; the strange world of money and banking; and strategy in a fast-changing world.

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In the book, Mann discusses the changing concept of the business organisation. Organisations have been around for hundreds of years and despite becoming a little more refined and evolved, "we've continued with pretty much the same model", says Mann.

In today's world a business has become "a well oiled machine; every part knows exactly what it's supposed to do". This has led to the dehumanisation of workers, where you can just "plug people in and take them out as you wish".

"We need to have organisations which are first of all less hierarchical, where we push down responsibility to the lowest possible unit in the organisation."

He cites the example of the receptionist who should be seen as a "CEO" in his or her own right, running their own little section as the person at the top of the organisation may not have a clue of the practical implications of changes imposed from on high.

"So we devolve power around the areas that you work and we allow you to take as much responsibility as you can. In the same vein, we don't have to have organisational restructures using this model." Employees should be allowed to restructure their own departments, without needing anyone's permission.

He points out that this model has in fact been achieved by "a litany of companies", among them AES Corporation, one of the largest independent producers of electrical power in the world and a firm which employs 40 000 people.

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"The model is possible in the 21st century and it's one that's more appropriate as opposed to fighting against the system," says Mann.

Asked who would benefit from his book, Mann jokingly says "it would be nice if your dentist... had read it too so that he'd have something to say to you about where the world is going".

With an average of 12 hours needed to read each book Mann has covered, he says: "I've done all the reading for you, I've pulled all the best ideas together. So I think that anyone in business would find it very useful."

*The Executive Update - The latest business ideas distilled into one guide is available from Amazon, Takealot, Loot.com, Exclusive Books and leading bookstores countrywide.

Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. 24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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