Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

This article was written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1981 and has subsequently been reprinted in several publications.

How To Manage: The Ten Point Master Plan

1. Keep it small. If you meet, an employee of yours that you don't recognise or know the name of, your firm is too large. Thus, the worse your memory for faces, the smaller your company should be.

2. Keep it flexible. Never adhere to a formula or a way of doing things just because it's working. Look for a better way. Routine is always the killer.

3. Delegate. If you feel you're unable to do this, you've probably got the wrong team round you.

4. Make snap decisions (about important matters). They’re just as likely to be right as long, time-consuming, considered ones. If you don't trust your instincts that much, you shouldn't be in the job.

5. Procrastinate (about unimportant matters). They'll probably go away. Anyway, they shouldn't be on your desk if you've delegated properly. Someone else should be dealing with them, leaving you free to make your large-scale snap decisions.

6. Admit your mistakes. It is good for your soul and endears you no end to your employees.

7. Do one thing at a time. There are people who are reputed to do six things at once, but I don't believe them. Do one thing well.

8. Be generous with your talent. If your function is largely creative, then assume your talent is limitless and exercise it indiscriminately (it will do it good). Throw away old ideas, plays, poems, paintings, novels, or master plans, confident that you can easily construct something better. Dispense with your bottom-drawer. It’s, nice, at least, to feel that the older you get the better you become.

9. Disregard the lessons of history. Especially those that say “it can’t be done.” All the more reason to do it. Or “it's been done before.” Everything has. All the more reason to do it again and better.

10. Switch off occasionally. Try to retain one tiny streak within yourself of glorious irresponsibility that allows you to opt out entirely: when things become intolerable. That way you’ll lose the odd friend or opportunity but retain your sanity.

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