Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Robert Peston's Who Runs Britain

Normally on holiday I like to infuse myself in books of gore death and destruction. Lee Child'esque for me.
However, for a while I have had a copy of Robert Pestons Who Runs Britain.
I like his comments and not least of all he is someone who does actually respond on Twitter so I think reading his book is a polite way of saying thanks for being so obliging
It is clear at the start why its a best seller. To the point, frank, easy to read, lively script and rather enjoyable style. But, hey, I'm no literary critic.
The book describes a range of interesting folk who dominate the financial landscape but also how they do it. From the straight talking Green and his war over M&S through to Allan Leighton from the Post Office with plenty in between. The mysteries of Hedge Funds explained in simple non Economic theory terms, make this read all the better for a wide audience.
I could pick out loads of anecdotes throughout the book but that would spoil it for others.
What I want to pick out is on page 183 (soft back) which to me epitomises the difference between some Public and some private sector ideals. I am not sure that was the intention but hopefully with the highest regard to quoting 
In describing Goldman Sachs he points out " There is an esprit de corps which is second to none. .......no one is permitted to hide information. There is a team culture of sharing wisdom, insights and information......that is unlike that of any rival firms"
Many years ago I undertook a short attachment to a large bank. What absolutely amazed me was how, at a particular level, the key players were all in competition with each other, effectively lining up to challenge each other rather than looking for collaboration or cooperation. 
The purpose of the police National Intelligence Model has always been to ensure that information and intelligence is shared and not squirrelled away for personal use. It strikes me that an organisation that does not value and share it's internal assets could fail 
For the bank I worked with I suggested that the NIM could be adapted to accommodate  the needs of bankers. Politely listened to, but with little likelihood of acceptance would probably be the best description of the outcome. 
There are times, despite what some leaders suggest, when the public sector has the answer that can help the private sector. 
Notwithstanding this diversion the book is an excellent read and a most enjoyable introduction to the vagaries, risks and dangers of unfettered capitalism. Within the text there are plenty of signs of hope however. 

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