In brief

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
KiDS amp; CO: winning business tactics for every family. By Ros Jay. White Ladder Press pound;6.99.

One of the silliest of modern myths is that there's nothing a management consultant can't solve. This book claims to be able to tell us how to do the most difficult job those of us who are parents will ever do, which is bring up our children by the application of management techniques. Treat your children (or pupils) like customers, the argument goes, and you can't go wrong.

It suggests, for example, using the sales technique of keeping control of conversations by asking questions rather than answering them. I have frequently come close to throttling salespeople who do that. It's a way of getting a customer to buy what you want to sell, not what the customer needs.

The book puts its cards on the table from the start. "Closing the sale, winwin negotiating, motivational skillsI All we need to do is learn how to apply them to our children." It seems to assume we all work in retail sales.

It has interesting parallels to draw, and useful things to say, and it says them well and clearly. But the premise is rubbish. I speak as one who knows. I'm not a salesman, and my experiences of management proved only that I have no talent for it. But I am the father of two teenage children, and I have worked from home for most of their lives. Listen to me, not the management gurus.

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