Amazon.co.uk Review
Ian MacLaurin is chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, chairman of Vodaphone and former chairman of Tesco. He has spent a career in business taking tigers by the tail, but none was as spectacular as the way in which he turned Tesco into the market leader it is today. His business memoir explains how he achieved this. LacLaurin lead Tesco’s Operation Checkout in 1979, which allowed the company to make a clean break with its past and re-positioned itself in the market by discontinuing Green Shield stamps. To achieve this he clashed with the company’s founder “Slasher Jack” Cohen who believed the stamps were the touchstone of the company’s success. MacLaurin won the battle and his plan paid off. By the mid-1970s, stamps had passed their sell-by date and a new generation of customers had emerged. Tiger by the Tail is not a management book and MacLaurin does not plan to become a management guru espousing “transaction processing” and “geometric modelling” of Total Quality Management. The book is a fascinating recollection of daring business experiences and interesting businesspeople. In Tesco there is now a tight, top-down management structure, and MacLaurin plans to bring some of his expertise to the cricketing counties which, in many ways, are like co-ops. In his words, they are one of the great, traditional institutions in retailing and a dominant player in the sector, but one in which the devolution of power to the individual profit centres has meant that it has been unable to adapt to the competitive market in which it now has to trade.

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3 Comments

  1. R. W. Norris says:

    i thought this book was a great read and having join tesco’s in the 70,s {STILL THERE}i found it to be a special read.

    Lord Ian MacLaurin has been able to show how simalar things are in this world in the book using his work life in differant area.

    Also met him plenty of times and the book i think is so him.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. This is a well written book, for the ordinary people of today. It is not a book about management in business, but a book about lifelong learning. It deals with both business and life/family issues and not only the successes. Whilst there is a serious tone and message to this book, the anecdotes, humour and humility of this man shine through between the lines. My most unexpected moment came at the very end, when, on a packed train during commuter hour in London, having read the last paragraph and genuinely feeling the sadness of Lord MacLaurin, I looked over at my partner with a tear in my eye and hoped that I could learn from his most costly mistake. Time does not stand still and we are here for such a very short time.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. Anonymous says:

    Tiger By The Tail refers to the first half of the book only, the period when Lord MacLaurin led the customer-focussed revolution at Tesco in 1979. It’s not entirely clear why the title was chosen, because thereafter he eclectically selects episodes from the rest of his business life, all of which should have made riveting reading, but don’t, principally because he never really gets into the story. His role in the Guinness affair is not fully explained, although he clearly was deeply involved in sorting out the effects of an enormous fraud. Similarly, his role at the Sports Council is glossed over. It’s a slim book, which would greatly benefit from a further fifty pages to give a fuller account of episodes of great public interest in which this eminent author has been involved. As it is, the book reads like a loose collection of ten newspaper articles.
    Rating: 2 / 5

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