Book Review: Route 42 by Dr Richard Russill

I’m not mad keen on business self help books; I tend to need the escape of fiction, so when I saw a ‘novel’ about changing the fortunes of an international aerospace company, largely from a procurement perspective, I was intrigued, if not a little sceptical.

The novel is called ‘Route 42’, with the strapline: ‘A novel way to cut costs, change culture and create competitiveness.’. It’s written by Dr Richard Russill - author, of a long line of books, mentor, educator and all-round procurement guru!. He has featured on this site several times.

In this latest book, the story opens with Jon Walsh, a consultant being brought in to support the recently installed General Manager of Gullmech Corporation in transforming several aspects of the company.  It’s on the decline with rising costs, lower sales prices and team issues. The chapters take the reader through various business conundrums across the Gullmech’s (and parent company) international locations. Russill has weaved a set of characters through the book, not only the protagonist Jon Walsh, but members of the team with different roles and personalities which, together with the various international backdrops bring out the cultural issues which agitate the precarious business situation.

Through the course of the story, challenges are faced, explained and worked through by the team, with Walsh often giving his own previous experiences to help highlight an issue and a remedy.

You could assume it’s an odd mix for a novel: is it a story? Is it a business self help book?  It’s both.  I found the characters and locations pretty convincing; you get to know the team with their quirks and notable personalities, and you get a flavour of each location visited, whether it’s Seattle, London, Sardinia or NW England, with a few nods to local culture, climate, and surroundings which keep the reader in the story zone.

One can identify with the problems facing Gullmech and its parent company and the reader naturally wants to know how the characters go about fixing what they can. I caught myself identifying with several scenarios and I was bemused to find myself comparing how Route 42, Jon Walsh and team dealt with the situation versus how colleagues and I had handled that situation from my own experience.

All in all, it’s a good read with plenty to identify with and learn about. Who’s Route 42 aimed at? Well, I think it would be a useful edition to any procurement team’s bookshelf, and beyond, especially those teams who welcome newcomers without specific procurement or business experience. If someone is out to learn what it’s like to work in an international company with its business and cultural challenges, wants some ideas on how to manage certain situations, but doesn’t necessarily go for the straightforward business self-improvement category, this is certainly worth delving into.

How to Buy Route 42 by Richard Russill:

The book (hard copy) can be bought direct from the publisher for a 20% discount by e-mailing Andrew.Young@cambridge-media.com and quoting code Route42Supply.

Alternatively you can go direct to Amazon (where it's also available free on Kindle Unlimited) or Waterstones (Google RussillRoute42).

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