The Empty Raincoat: Making Sense of the Future Paperback – 17 Aug 1995
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"If you are part of, think about, care about or are in any way influenced by the world of work, and who is not, this powerful and moving book is for you" (Sir Graham Day Financial Times)
"A necessary and important contribution to our understanding of the way we live now" (Hamish McRae Director Magazine)
New thinking for a new world.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Throughout the book, reference is made to two "principles" or "facts". Firstly, the Sigmoid curve which describes the "life" cycle of beginning slowly, then wax and wane and secondly the doughnut principle with work at the centre and free or external to work time making up the rest of the doughnut. How big the rest of the doughnut is depends on the individual.
For myself, the book is refreshing. The author continually asks if work is everything and should it be the preoccupying factor in a persons life. Do we live to work or do we work to live? This is a question that I continually ask myself.
After a rather complex presentation of life's paradoxes, such as the paradox of time (we never seem to have enough, yet more is available to us than our predecessors - we live longer and have gadgets to help us make and do things), he gets to the book's core concepts.
The Sigmoid Curve is the best career management advice I have ever come across - recognise where you are on the first S-curve of your career and plan for the second before the first goes into decline. In today's fluid employment market that is more relevant now than ever.
The Doughnut Principle is a thought-provoking examination of work life balance. With the finite amount of time you have represented by the outer circle, the amount of time you devote to work is the inner circle - how thick do you want your doughnut to be?
And the Chinese Contract is about the contracts we make with ourselves and others - are they equitable or are we being selfish?
From here the book gets very philosophical, with Handy musing on the future of society, corporations and government. I found this section of the book less engaging, but interesting nonetheless.
The book's theme is inspired by a statue in Minneapolis that provided the title - are we just `empty raincoats' - units of labour and intellect - a cog in a corporate machine? Or is there someone of substance to fill the raincoat with meaning and purpose that goes beyond work?
If, like me, you're mid-career, young family, thinking about what the future holds, this is a really good book to read.
Handy begins by discussing how economic progress has been won at a high cost. The claimed increase in freedom and choice have meant less equality and more misery if not for the wealthy few, for the rest of society. One of many paradoxes that Handy explores. I particularly enjoyed his thoughts on how paying for jobs to be done, often destroys the jobs. His argument being that many worthwhile and valuable jobs simply become uneconomical once they are paid for, and thus disappear. It's certainly my belief that the willingness of someone to pay for something is a very poor measure of whether something is worth doing. Think of the care you lavish on your children or time spent on hobbies.
The title comes from his plea that people should not be reduced to being empty raincoats.
"We were not destined to be empty raincoats, nameless numbers on a payroll, role occupants, the raw material of economics or sociology, statistics in some government report",
"If that is to be its price, then economic progress is an empty promise." Handy believes that it is every individual's challenge to fill their empty raincoat. to make meaning in their life.
Handy argues that life is full of paradox and things simply can't be predicted or understood. The challenge of life is to manage paradox, not to accumulate possessions.
He argues that wealth should not be measured in property and land, but in terms of knowledge.
"The means of production" in the future will be owned by the workers because it will be based on their intelligence and know how - a difficult thing to gauge in financial terms alone.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the premise of the book and it started well but I struggled with some chapters which were a little heavy going but overall it was an interesting series of concepts.Published 11 months ago by Bob
Fast delivery and a good read.This is not for a quiet Sunday browse.The book is most interesting and I suggest that anyone with an interest in their country has a read./Published on 14 Aug. 2013 by Bill Kerr
Charles Handy is a rarity to be cherished, a credible business philosopher who is also very "readable" because he practices what he preaches. Read morePublished on 14 Jan. 2013 by The Engager
Handy always seems to find a unique perspective on the world of work but even so it's hard to believe this book has been around for well over a decade, it just feels so fresh and... Read morePublished on 19 April 2008 by Matt Wilson