Three Funerals and a Wedding follows the story of four businesses undergoing radical change and shows how they succeeded or failed. When you introduce new technology into a business it is obvious, or should be, that you are putting in a place a new system. But the same is true whenever you change the organisational structure, put in place a new incentive scheme, acquire or merge with another business, or sometimes make what appears to be the simplest adjustment to a minor process. The impact of this change can be wide-ranging and completely unexpected, and unless the new system is explicitly designed to produce precisely the results you want, you will, with 100% certainty, get precisely the ones you don’t, with profound or even fatal consequences for the organisation concerned.
These stories are of four business that faced this challenge – Laura Ashley, The Burton Group, Dixons and the Compass Group. What they did and what the outcome was is explored within the book. They are still all around today, albeit in different forms; but in some cases, they very nearly weren’t. The stories are based on the author’s personal experiences at the time and reflections since, but they are presented not merely as uncorroborated anecdotes – they include insights from other people involved, documented evidence from the time and since, and in all cases are laid out with clarity. They all take the same form: the story as it appeared at the same time; a discussion of the consequences and of the wider context; and finally, lessons and conclusions which can be drawn from the experience.
John Thorp has worked in business for more than 25 years, mainly in IT leadership roles at, amongst others, Laura Ashley, The Burton Group, Compass Group, easyJet and Dixons, where at the last two, he was also a member of the management board. He has a Masters from Cranfield University, where he was also a visiting lecturer, and has worked in a non-executive and voluntary capacity as well as a paid adviser to several private, public and charitable organisations.