Book reviews Management — 27 September 2011

The activity illusion came onto my radar earlier in the summer in the Chartered Management Institute magazine. There are a lot of “airport manager” type books in the summer months. The kind of light reading that isn’t too taxing but gives you a nice warm feeling.

The activity illusion looked different. It was a book about… amongst other things why you shouldn’t read business books on holiday….

So I bought “The activity illusion” to read on holiday…

(I should add that I almost always take MORE reading on holiday than I can possibly do. It’s amazing how on holiday, as in life generally how little “nothing” you get round to doing)..

The activity illusion is in two sections.

Firstly, a tour round email and related technologies. Why they hold you in a vice like grip and captivate you, why you are powerless to resist just “having a quick look just in case”

And secondly, good management practices and techniques with the first section in mind.

Let’s take the first section… first.

Ian suggests (and I agree) that 20 years ago, it was pretty easy to see who was in charge in an organisation. The boss had their own parking space, a private office, secretary to guard the door, all the trappings of success.

Fast forward and with everyone in soft shoes, an open neck shirt and with a mobile phone glued to their ear, it’s pretty hard for those in charge to get the same “respect” or “status.”

So ACTIVITY is the new status indicator. Hence the “activity illusion.”

The one thing that SHOWS people you have status is that you are busy.

The one with the most meetings, sending the most emails, rushing about the most is the winner. Simple as that.

Ian tells us EXACTLY WHY we are addicted to chat and gossip. Hint – It goes back to our days as cavemen and separates us from animals.

So I read the first section and I thought “Yep” that all makes perfect sense.

The second section is Ian’s thoughts on management and leadership.

As I was reading this, I thought that he must be a good guy to work for and with.

Almost all of the material made perfect sense and some of it could even be from my own book…

All of the material (in both sections) is a superb mix of perfectly researched academic material and little stories from Ian’s working career as Chief Executive and Director level manager in big hitting technology firms.

So I got back from holiday and emailed Ian to see if he wouldn’t mind being on a webinar.

He rang me back and said something along the lines of “I don’t answer emails but yes I would love to be a guest”

(I instantly thought of Mr Spock from the original Star Trek – when something unexpected happens, he would raise an eyebrow and express surprise. I imagined Ian to be the same “Hmmm – An email – how unexpected..”)

Anyways, If you are spending all your time rushing around and getting nothing done, if you have tried endless productivity apps, systems and tools, if you have read all the books on time management then you need to STOP. And then do two things…

Firstly you need to get the activity illusion, and secondly you need to drop your email below to see the webinar recording. (Ian’s views on social media are pretty punk rock also).

(This session is geared towards lone workers – but anyone will find nuggets of intelligence in the discussion).

the activity illusion ian price

karate 1 The activity illusion   Ian PriceGet a Super NINJA LinkedIn profile. FREE Online Training course. Just jump over to

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(4) Readers Comments

  1. Pingback: The activity illusion – Ian Price : Management Blogs

  2. I cut out 90% of my networking as a result of this. Pursuing highly relevant contacts is now my marketing objective

  3. Very insightful and having been a lone/home worker for the past 6 years many of Ian’s points resonate with me alarmingly well!

    If you’re starting out then this is essential reading :)

  4. Interestingly enough, give thought

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