A consultant that thinks like a client
You need to know the rules in order to break them successfully
The poor soul didn’t know it was impossible, he just went ahead and did it
A tweak of the engine is usually sufficient, but sometimes you need to hit it with a hammer
The better the presentation style, the more the message will be believed
Not-for-profit organisations measure success by acclamation
Lack of ruthlessness causes business development initiatives to fail
Things go round in spirals. It just looks like circles from a certain angle
‘Assurance’ is like a faulty walking stick: lean too heavily and it will collapse
If you build it, they really do come
Financial modelling is a ‘gateway’ skill: it gains access to more senior positions
Working in the public sector, large numbers of people are looking over your shoulder
A harsh, uncomfortable existence is the best way to ensure corporate success
An unexploded risk just detonated
Selling is partly about enjoying the game
Analysing financial accounts will help you ask the right questions but the answers lie elsewhere
Experienced HR people get into character for an interview
Really talented people are quite rare in business, as in any walk of life
What have you got to negotiate with?
Creative people have a talent for borrowing
Anyone reporting financial results in a quoted company knows the pressure to avoid surprises
Sail around the world, just make sure you can afford to return
‘Where’s economic growth going to come from?’ Seriously?
Let out your inner crazed dictator
Problems are dimly perceived, solutions hazily understood, and outcomes unknown or unknowable
Risk is the name investors give to losing money
Decision-making begins when analysis finishes
Sometimes leaders have to be ‘ahead’ of public opinion
Loved by consultants, loathed by managers, benchmarking is a powerful analytical tool
Things are constantly changing, yes, but the way we live changes quite slowly
We get to know each other by telling stories
The role of a Chairman is chief executioner
In all innovation strategies, you must – above all – kill bad ideas quickly
‘Assurance’ is like a faulty walking stick: lean too heavily and it will collapse
Scottish independence is a lovely idea, I just think it’s going on the wrong direction
You don’t need to be good with numbers to be good at finance
Work comes first
If you want to know what life will be like in the future, I can tell you. It will be exactly like life today
Just before a meeting starts there’s always someone sharing a pet theory
‘I want a new job’. No you don’t! Otherwise you’d get one
Raising finance is like pitching a film or TV programme. It’s about who you know, darling
Net Present Value doesn’t convey much useful information
Barring a couple of months in early 1998, I don’t think I’ve ever been bored at work
Double entry bookkeeping ranks among the glories of the Renaissance
You’re not your budget
The first thing you should expect from your audit partner is an invitation to lunch
Like a doctor that smokes, I ignored personal finances until my late thirties
Corporate life is constantly changing, full of suffering and slightly absurd
A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking big numbers
The average earner pays 36% in tax. Is it just me, or does this seem a lot?
Ask a professional firm how proud they are with the work they’ve done
An MIS system that is boring and reliable is a necessary condition of good decision-making.
Both sexes need a mix of masculine and feminine skills
Without a cost we’re unable to value anything
Even standing on the moon watching the Earth rise must get a bit dull after a while
Perfect mental health is as rare as elite athletes, requiring similar levels of training and commitment
I’ve lost £0.5m

Managing R&D – part one (scientists)

Business people don’t understand scientists and scientists are ill-equipped for the business environment.  It’s a minor miracle anything emerges from research and development departments.  Given the importance of innovation and technology to a company’s prosperity, corporate efforts to manage R&D are surprisingly clunky.  Any company (or economy for that matter) that cracks it deserves all

Managing R&D – part two (innovation strategies)

Part one (scientists) covered the personality barriers that get in the way of R&D investment, but that’s the easy bit.  It is, after all, just a communication thing.  The hard part is coming up with a way of managing R&D that achieves better results than leaving things to chance alone (which, by the way, is

The Chief Executive has to go

There is a word I rarely heard in the early part of my career that I hear all the time these days – ‘governance’.  It’s a nuanced concept and one which can provoke some hostility, partly because of the small industry that has grown up around corporate governance and risk management over the last two