February 18, 2008
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Myself and Other More Important Matters
Charles Handy, one of today's greatest managerial thinkers, has written a memoir about his life, his loves and his ideologies. It is not a business book per se, yet it's packed from page to page with his theories about the way business and organizations are run. Reading the book feels like Handy is carrying on a personal conversation with a young protege to whom he reminisces about how he first started out, all the mistakes he made along the way, some philosophies that helped him, his own personal gurus, and even love and mortality. Myself and Other More Important Matters not only provides a portrait of this thoughtful author, it offers his unique understanding of the business of business from almost every angle.
In chapter six, Handy talks personally, and humorously, about what he thinks was wrong with the non-existent business culture in Britain:
There were once three occupations in Britain for which you required no qualification and for which no training existed: politician, parent and manager. Unfortunately, they were also three of the most important. Management, in particular, was something that, it felt, everyone could do in a pinch. Rather like making love, it was something that sensible people instinctively knew how to do, when and as the need arose.
He liked the American approach to business enough to try MIT's methods in his homeland. At times, he may seem to glorify his United States experience, but he also comments on how even the American dream has lost some of its luster. He suggests that the way things run in any culture needs to be updated and changed when necessary.
Chapter seven reflects on Handy's lingering interest with Greek and Roman philosophy. He teaches his students ways of dealing with business through the play Antigone and introduces of Plato's rhetoric and Socrates' need to ask questions into his business class. Handy explains that to proceed forward in any endeavor, one must look back and learn from the past.
Handy's memoir is for anyone interested in his personal views on management, but it also serves as a companion to his other books. If you haven't thought about reading a Handy book until now, we recommend this as the place to start. He refers to this as his memoir, but there will be, no doubt, other books to come. Or so we can hope.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.