I had the idea to write this book about two years ago in the spring of 1997. I posted it to John Wiley a few days ago at the start of the spring of 1999. The fact that I have finished it owes a lot to other people. For a start, there is obviously the army of people whose ideas have shaped my own. This covers both the authors I have never met, as well as colleagues and clients who have been kind enough to share their thinking with me. Aside from this intellectual input and as important for this book's completion have been those people who have been invaluable to my getting it finished. Banishing interruptions has not been easy. Like London buses, for which you wait hours and then three come along at once, so it can be with consultancy. We have been consistently busy these past two years. The fact that the book is done owes everything to my colleagues, Lindsay Dagg, Julia Smith and Jo Rees, who have all worked around my part-time status the last few months, and shouldered a great deal of responsibility.
After John Wiley and I had agreed a synopsis in October 1997, I did not have a lot to show a year later and was probably heading for a five-year completion with a deadline that was already one month overdue. What galvanized me into action was a brief conversation with Linda Holbeche from Roffey Park after a talk she gave on her high-flyer research. This was followed the very next day by lunch with Claire Plimmer of John Wiley. Both made me feel it would be a shame not to focus and finish.
The subsequent six months were at times a walk along a tightrope between despair and quiet satisfaction. The fact that I stayed on the tightrope owes much to the consistent support of another colleague, Wendy Lyons. Her brand of gentle criticism ('I think I'm a little lost') mixed with praise kept me thinking the whole project was worth while even if there were chunks to be rethought and rewritten. I hasten to add that there are still plenty of examples of where I have ignored Wendy's doubts and any ideas that seem crazed or incomprehensible are no doubt the result of my being stubborn.
Then, there are people who do not even know they have helped. Most important are a band of priceless friends and particularly Linda, Jon, Ruth and George Norman. I should also like to mention Richard Churchman at my tennis club. For months he asked 'How's the book, Charles?' until I feel it struck him as ill-mannered. Mischievously, I am particularly glad to be able to demonstrate to him that he did not need to stop enquiring.