Hamish McRae: author of What Works
Guess who was in town yesterday? It was Hamish McRae, one of the most respected journalists from UK and a celebrated columnist for the Guardian. He is also widely respected as a futurist apart from being a highly sought after speaker. He was here to launch his book, What Works.
Ramachandra Guha, renowned historian and author, has known him for a long time. A few days back, Ram wrote to me asking if I would join for a conversation with Hamish on the occasion of his book launch. We had a wonderful evening discussing several ideas presented in the book. There, Hamish presented his view of how the world around us is changing. I requested him for a copy of his slides; he readily and most graciously agreed. Click here to view the slides.
Hamish’s book is about what works in our world despite conventional wisdom, contrary examples and sometime, cynicism. Case studiesin the book range from Harvard University to the Edinburgh Festival, from the Dharavi slums to the Bangalore IT industry. What Works is an easy read and brings out beautifully a set of 10 core lessons from the examples drawn across sectors and continents.
1. Optimism, balanced y realism: pessimism paralyses
2. Excellence, tempered by decency; if you neglect your wider responsibilities, you’re liable to end up in trouble when you meet headwinds
3. Community works, if it is allowed to: look at things from the ground level up and mobilize community
4. Government works too; compare like with like
5. Become a true magnet for talent: put out the welcome mat
6. Be honest about failure; keep learning , keep making mistakes
7. The need for humility; be sensitive to success as you are to failure
8. Be nimble: make sure you are quick to adapt
9. Listen to the market; remember, it is about more than money
10. Have a sense of mission; keep the long game in view and do right by those who share your objectives
Each of the above points comes out beautifully as the book presents the 20 cases; some, like the Dharavi slums are what I would call “community of communities”, some are institutionslike Harvard, some are for-profit companies like IKEA and some examples take us to an utility set up, an industrial community,or even the government program that is succeeding some place.A great read if you are a policy maker or leader of an organization and want to know why things work.
Meanwhile, do let me know your opinion about Zen Garden in Forbes India. My guests for theNew Year issue will be Aman Nath and Francis Wacziarg , a great duo that founded the non-hotel chain Neemrana which sprang from their passion for restoration of heritage sites. So, look out for the story there.
Meanwhile, here is wishing you all Happy Holidays and thank you for reading my blog.