The one-sentence summary

Making it happen is the most important part of any idea, and the prime management problem in any company.


  • Management is ultimately about people. It is an art, not a science. The artistry lies in the combination of skills, perceptions, intuitions, and combined experiences which are continually different and almost invariably unique. There are two types of manager:
  • The Thoughtful Manager, who is continually adding to skills and considering changes in the art form
  • The Closed Mind Manager, who attempts continuously to replicate successful solutions in situations which are, almost invariably, totally different.
  • There is no area of activity in the UK that does not badly need an improvement in managerial skill.
  • Tasks don’t get done without the commitment of those who have to execute it. Making it happen is the most important part of any idea, and the prime management problem in any company.


  • The author worked for ICI for thirty years, and became one of the great management gurus. The book is not a manual or a prescriptive description of the only ways in which things can be done. It is based on personal experience.
  • Setting the direction is important, but how it is going to get done matters more. The people need to be ‘switched on’, and ownership of the strategic objective must be transferred to those who are to enact it – the power of good delegation. Ordering people around doesn’t work well.
  • Management is about change, and maintaining a high rate of change. Without change nothing is possible. Whether comfortable or not, it is inevitable. The UK has a particular love of the old and a seeming contempt for the new.
  • Values and beliefs in a company cannot be created out of thin air. Unless they are real, and permeate everything that is done, they will not have any effect. If they cease to be relevant they must either be abandoned or adapted to be applicable to the future.
  • He predicted that the future of the organisation would have to adapt to the needs of the individual, rather than the other way round. This would release energies, creativity and imagination of a different order from before. This prediction appears to be right.


  • Being over twenty years old, a lot has happened since. There are no sections, charts or diagrams, so this more like reading a novel.