The Legacy of John Harvey-Jones

A great business leader, Sir John Harvey-Jones, died last month. For those who are not aware, he was a leading light in the UK business community since the early 1980’s when he rose to public prominence as the chairman of ICI, which he guided to be one of the most successful companies in the UK if not the world.

But to most people in the UK he is best remembered as the star of the “Troubleshooter” television series where he visited (and later revisited) a series of companies that were in trouble and advised them how to turn themselves around.

The programmes were particularly important for me, although I didn’t realise it at the time, because it was the first time that I’d seen mentoring in action. I didn’t (and still don’t) agree with the way that Sir John mentored. He told the owners what they should do and several of them hated it (Morgan Cars being a very good example), whereas I prefer to keep asking questions until my clients arrive at the solution so that they “own” it and will therefore put it into action.

So I owe Sir John a huge debt. I have some friends who knew him and describe him as a very generous man, and my big regret is that I never met him.

So rest in peace Sir John. And thank you.

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