Book review: Who's In The Room?

Emma De Vita reviews the new book by Bob Frisch

Bob Frisch's Who's in the Room?
Bob Frisch's Who's in the Room?

How leaders make decisions in their organisations has recently come under scrutiny. Take Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of RBS, for example: how was he allowed to make such poor decisions?

Charities might have a very different culture from businesses, but it's still important as a manager to know how those at the top make the decisions they do. You'd be wrong to think, for example, that the organisational chart gives an accurate representation of the order of influence. Why? Because chief executives are often more likely to consult a retinue of advisers they've created than their senior management team. Does this informal style make for poor decisions?

The author, Bob Frisch, has worked as an adviser for 30 years, so he has had a chance to analyse this. In his view, a small group of trusted advisers is more effective at making big decisions than the senior management team. Outsiders give a chief executive different perspectives and valuable advice that people inside the organisation might not give. So what happens if you're a senior manager at a charity and you're not in the chief exec's so-called 'kitchen cabinet'? Get over it, says Frisch. You still have an important role to play.

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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