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Nature calling

Letters

I would normally be loth to take issue with someone as eminent as Professor Iain McLeod but I feel I must reply to his comments on the nature of management (Letters last week).

The manager is the conductor of the orchestra.

He does not need to be able to play all the instruments, but by golly he needs to know what the finished product is supposed to sound like. The outcome should be completely determinate.

I know it is heresy, but anyone who can, for example, manage to get themselves to work on time, maintain a property and lay on a dinner party for a group of friends, has the ability and opportunity to develop the necessary skills to manage a construction project.

After all, Brunel built the GWR without having been to management school.

The reason for the failure of so many high-profile projects - for example the Child Support Agency Computer System and the West Coast Main Line Upgrade - is that the highly educated and well paid 'managers' running them did not know what they were aiming at. As a result they were bound to miss.

Roger Button (M), Buro Happold, Camden Mill, Lower Bristol Road, Bath BA2 3DQ

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