Month: June 2014

Sex, bribery, progress and designer logos…

Sex might be a three minute time commitment, but parenthood is a lifetime commitment. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

Bribery is a form of price inflation, with all the drawbacks of inflation. Worse still, it’s not even reported in the inflation statistics for a country.

Progress – it’s always darkest before the norm.

Scratch a sharp design, find the legacy of passion beneath. Scratch a sharp designer logo, find the loss of magic beneath.


Social Transitions 4

If Scotland votes YES to become independent (and then starts the EU joining process), while Britain votes NO in a forthcoming referendum about remaining in the EU, will future EU migrants who see still the UK as a land of safety and opportunity all flock into Scotland instead of South East England?

Unchecked immigration is like allowing an unlimited number of shipwreck survivors to clamber into the same lifeboat.

Will the future wealth of the 1000 UK Rich List start buying up ever-increasing numbers of properties in London, until whole streets and boroughs are owned outright? Like famous impressionist paintings, if the supply remains finite, the investment value heads in one direction.

In London, the middle value property prices will likely continue to be set based on the underlying land value. Its value is set by the prices of the elite properties, unless mass Council Estate building is undertaken.



What 10 things would help the English team win a Football World Cup?

  1. Understand the real reasons for their consistently poor results since winning in 1966. Don’t just simplify the reasons down to one or two things alone.


  1. With the UK government’s influence and FIFA’s support, ensure the England team has a full month to train together just before the World Cup, so they practice well as a team. No doubt that means playing fewer Premier games as a result. The players could all be forced to take a pay cut during that time, whether selected for the national team or not. Once England did this, (some) other national teams would follow to increase their own chances of winning.


  1. During the pre-Cup training, get sports trainers from outside the football industry to run sessions with the English team on self belief and adopting a winning attitude (trainers from the SAS of ‘who dares wins’ fame could usefully teach this), sprinting at twice the speed (to reach the ball, with trainers from those who coach Olympic sprinters), long distance runs to build stamina to perform at peak in the last 15 minutes including any injury time (Mo Farrah’s trainer seconded for this?) and some grid-iron coaches to help the team develop innovative set-piece routines. Also have SAS trainers in the changing rooms at half time to inspire the team further.


  1. When selecting the players for the team, put far more weighting on speed (accurate passing at pace and ‘Bolt’ sprinting ability to follow the ball) and hunger to win. And far less on technical performance earlier in that player’s career.


  1. Drill the mid field in how to do two things – firstly, receive an ultra-fast incoming ball and pass it on accurately in record time. And secondly, for one or two of the mid field to sprint back to bolster the defence, as required. Train the mid field hard by having a striker slam balls at them to practise.


  1. In the 3 months leading up to the World Cup training, second the foreign strikers playing in the English premiership to each do a session, slamming the ball past the English defenders and the English goal keeper. Then when the defence face them in the Cup, the defence will be even more familiar with handling World-class threats.


  1. Don’t ever appoint a team manager who knows everything there is to know about how football was played in the past. Instead, appoint a football architect – someone who is designing how best-practice football will be played in the next ten years. This may include flexible and dynamic formations, using deception more creatively as a tool, more use of set pieces, more sequenced header plays and new types of passing techniques.


  1. Make anyone invited to play in the England national team sign a contract saying they’ll join a ‘walk of shame’ through the London streets, where the English public can pelt them with rotten vegetables, if the team doesn’t a least make it through to the quarter finals. If the players won’t sign that contract, they’ll be immediately dropped from the England squad. Refuse in the following World Cup or refuse to walk in the actual walk of shame and they’ll be dropped for good. For true World class players, there is little downside risk.


  1. Train each player to be flexible – in their mental attitude and in which position they can confidently play. Then if forced by circumstance to play out of their perfect comfort zone, the player will simply step up and try even harder. Put every England player under pressure (train hard, play easy), so they learn to handle far more pressure than they ever thought they could.


  1. Since the team members are default role models for English youth and since losing yet again will dent the confidence of the subsequent World Cup national team even further, all players selected need to feel the pressure of needing to play the best game of their lives, every time they play a World Cup game.

Business Ironies 3

It sometimes takes an analytical person using right brain activity (creative problem solving) to solve a left brain problem.

Try to avoid the business planning process taking 13 months of effort, for a 12 month forecast period.

One of today’s senior job applicants jumping through the hoops of the interview process could well be tomorrow’s interviewer (and agency relationship manager), on the other side of the table.  If you’re the job agency appointed, you’d be wise to remember this in all your dealings.

Sometimes you have to do external benchmarking to raise internal standards of efficiency and quality.

Recruitment needs to be age blind. Older people don’t just have old fashioned experience, they also have long run perspective -they’ve seen the boom and bust times and most of the pitfalls in action. Organisations often hire fresh young blood with the latest technical skills, not realising their older employees can adapt what they know, to reach the same end point. Ironically the decision makers are often older staff themselves. See also blog post ‘Careers of Project Work Ahead’ on how long Generation Y workers expect to stay with their employer.

The more costly the costing system to build, the more cost savings (to a point) it creates elsewhere in the organisation .

Accountants gravitate to reporting on material items. Operations managers gravitate to seeking (immaterial) points of leverage. Accountants are supposed to be supporting the business.

British Values

Firstly, in a democracy, the values of a nation are arguably represented by its government and government policies. With various checks and balances hopefully in place to moderate the level of emphasis.

 Democratic politics is fundamentally about a system of values, with some practical compromises in the delivery of government policy. If you don’t vote, then what does that say about your values – is it saying:

  • that what you hold dear has no value, or
  • that no political party in your electorate matches at least some of your values, or
  • that you can’t match up the government policy delivery with the values you support?

Strong governments can be positive in staying the course and delivering what they promise -hopefully effective and positive change. Weak governments are typically inconsistent, immoral or ineffective.

 Perhaps unfairly, a government might also appear ineffective, if :

  • voters blame their government for a global problem impacting their nation (credit crunch shocks, economic & social migration, or economic recovery without proportionate job creation say),
  • the voters expect the government to obtain overwhelming public support on its policies, but aren’t seeing that in practice (many voters may be ambivalent, or uncertain about the exact mix of outcomes they want),
  • it operates in a political coalition, such that many policy actions are compromises and delayed while the dominant party tries to build a coalition consensus.

So are ‘British values’ really a ’chicken and egg’ situation?

Voters hold a set of values and the elected government translates (at least some of) them into action. Meanwhile, the government tries to influence public perception (adopt healthy lifestyles, save for a pension, be tolerant of other’s beliefs, be charitable to those less fortunate, live within your means, develop skills, be law-abiding etc) and thereby instil a strong sense of those values. Then the actual value-set then emerges, somewhere in the middle.

If this is so, perhaps the real challenge to ‘British values’ emerges, when some groups refuse to influence change through the parliamentary system and act directly (protest encampments, civil riots or terrorism). When that happens at a significant level, the top-down approach kicks in.

Values as the ‘Music’

Over the long term of a democratic nation’s history, there may be periods where top-down values dominate (in response to direct challenge from outside the parliamentary system) and more benign periods where voter values dominate.

Either approach could be argued as nothing more than ‘music accompanying the march’ of progress. The important point being that the musical style of the day, doesn’t hold up the forward momentum of the nation to achieve positive change for its population.

Perhaps what is most interesting is that as various nations align on the economic and technical progress they want to experience, the values must also converge. British values become European and Commonwealth values. And Western values align with United Nations values as a proxy for global values.

Social Transitions 3

What will happen to Middle East peace when the World’s oil dependency runs out? Doesn’t that region of the World need to focus all their energy on building a highly skilled workforce, supported by state of the art infrastructure?

If the Sun gives us free solar energy and the ocean gives us free wave energy, why are we still paying energy companies for energy?

For a multi-national energy company, the grass is always greener over the fence, when you keep choosing to harvest old investments in fossil fuel production. As the innovation vehicle speeds up, organisational complacency and myopia become the first victims of road kill. Share price the second.

Protecting free goods like the air we breathe is one battle worth fighting. Another is converting free solar energy into free energy for society.

Market cabals are the dying breath of an obsolete club – real competition isn’t market equilibrium. It’s market revolution.

Why in the UK do we encourage begging in the streets (by giving money to beggars)? We give enough in welfare benefits, foreign aid, food bank contributions, disaster relief and charity donations already. If the beggars aren’t UK citizens, who lets them come here and effectively tax us, on top of the EU taxes we already pay?

Do parental suicidal attitudes translate into their teenagers’ suicidal actions?

When it comes to national innovation, thinking outside the box means not drowning in the treacle of tradition inside the box.

Social Transitions 2

Personal comfort zones are footprints in a circle, that become one foot in the grave. Opportunity zones are footprints leading to the horizon, that leave one foot high ripples in a pond.

Trend mapping with a moral compass is the answer. What was the question?

Train hard, track safe. Train easy, train coming. Track dangerous.

Hope is like gravity. It anchors us to a great Planet, surrounded by people we can help. And those who will reach out to us, if we let them.

If you equip yourself with the right skills, retire early and enjoy the good life, without money worries.

 Wealthy people are just philanthropists still in their wrapping paper.

 The worst thing about prison is how inflexible the hierarchies are. The best thing about going straight is how many hierarchies you can choose to follow.