Specialist launch

Hi Folks,

Sorry I haven’t published much recently on this site. Having been working hard on launching a specialist blog, focussing on flexibility and personal flexibility (PFL) in particular.

I’d warmly encourage you to visit the new site. Hopefully the ideas posted there will help you manage uncertainty, achieve personal growth, manage existing risks in your life and perhaps think in a slightly different way too.

You can find the new site at http://www.fisccollection.org.uk

Thanks for following me so far.




Religion and Science

Religious scholar: The religious teachings I choose to study are the only valid ones.

Religious lay person: I have faith in a higher power and am inspired by the teachings of the holy book.

Agnostic: I’m not sure whether a higher power exists or not.

Moderate atheist: I’m sceptical that there is a higher power, but I haven’t seen proof that one does not exist.

Strong atheist: I’ve seen enough evidence to know there is no higher power.


Religious scientist: All the wonderful things I can’t explain, must be the work of a higher power.

Non religious scientist: All the wonderful things I can’t explain, are simply waiting for more scientific research to formulate an explanation.

Religious follower: My religion guides my life. Science supports my life.

Religious leader: My religion needs to guide more people’s lives. Science helps more people live, so that they can then have the opportunity to experience my religion.

Religious mystic: Religious is everything, Science is simply a distraction.



Religion Economics and Science1

Flexibility revisited

Flexibility is the parent of hope.

Flexibility needs the clothes of honour to be respectable.

Improve the flexibility, improve the credibility (except if honour is at stake).

With sources of flexibility, the more you look, the more you find.

The first step in managing flexibility is measuring it.

Flexibility indicators belong in every KPI system. They shouldn’t be the elephant in the room that everyone ignores.

Flexibility hates glass ceilings, racist signs and ignorance. It loves to hang out with innovation, dreamers, strategists, financiers and engineers.

Keeping it real

Adventure used to involve people taking up personal challenges – taking calculated risks that involved an element of danger. And putting their body under some kind of skills or fitness test. We got fitter. We increased our life skills. We even built our confidence. Now, many of us watch a handful of (overpaid) celebrities do all that. Or worse, play a computer game where the game characters have the adventure, at the expense of us developing life skills.

Parents, teachers and guidance counsellors are in a cold war with entertainment companies. Thanks to marketing hype, the ambition to be somebody and do something is getting relentlessly hijacked by entertainment. Since ultimately we’ll pay a high social price for that, can’t governments wake up and tax entertainment companies far more heavily to compensate?

When will the masses realise social media is both angel and devil. It’s good for exchanging ideas and refining our views. It’s good to rediscover long lost friends, separated by geography. But it’s bad to give a running commentary on how we’re feeling at any given moment.

Who taught the youth that all their meaning should come from computer games and reality TV? If self reliance and life skills build progress, then the one industry with a brilliant future ahead of it is life coaching. Maybe we now need life coaches in schools alongside the educators?

Life Bites

We used to take chances. Now computer systems allocate them to us.

When did the life skills of the group mutate into the lifestyles of the wannabe famous?

Is there a future for romantic love between people? As the apps of meaning, respect and mental health quietly die, what’s replacing them in the version upgrade?

The obesity epidemic isn’t just about lifestyle choices. The real concern is people feeling worse about themselves and eating to compensate.

We used to look to our parents and people we directly encountered as role models. Now it’s the rappers, club footballers, movie stars and super-hero characters we see from a great distance.

Car-crash TV used to be watching noble characters in cop shows and medical dramas save lives and unite, in spite of style and value differences. Now car-crash TV is watching shallow, self-obsessed, celebrity wannabes kill time in a big brother room, on a stage, on an island, in a jungle, or on a chat show.

Family Life

You can choose your friends. But you can’t choose your family. Maybe the best life comes from the combination of the things you choose and the things you experience – just imagine if we controlled everything or nothing. How impoverished our lives would be!

We all have biases, inadequacies and character shortcomings. Other people, including family members, help us understand and overcome them. Some people coach, guide and mentor us. Others penalise us. Some just listen and commiserate with us. Or help us put the little things in perspective. All feedback is good, even if just to make us realise that all feedback isn’t necessarily fair or accurate.

We need friends, who share our interests and values. But we need family too – they’re there for the long haul, so have to be more patient with us than our friends. And help us with our roots, grandparent and sibling relations, being a close partner and perhaps parenthood. Probably the older we get, the less our friends actually need our support. But that isn’t true for the younger generations – our kids, our nieces and nephews.

Authority is familiar around families, but is awkward in peer friendships. So perhaps family experiences help us more in our professional life than friends can. We adjust to generational differences in a family setting, helpful training for the workplace. We adjust to hierarchies in families, again useful for the workplace. We accommodate a wide variety of personality types in our extended families, helpful for customer relations in the workplace.

Perhaps the final word comes on our gravestone. Universally, our name is linked to that of our families, no matter how fabulous our friends were in life. But that’s ok. They are cool enough to cope.

Customer Service and Customer Experience


We live in the age of online retailing and call centre customer support. We side-step consumer advertising in favour of social media shopping comparisons between friends – chatting about the customer experience, as well as the product. Yet too many consumer mass market companies still think customer service. Not customer experience.

For some consumer brands, it gets worse.  To them, customer service simply means serving the customer, period.  Never mind how or when! A commuter train breaks down in the middle of nowhere in the depths of winter. Its brand managers focus mostly on getting the train moving again. Supporting the stranded passengers comes a distant second. Ditto the airlines and airport staff.

(Some) central and local politicians seem intent on taking their inspiration from these kinds of companies. Voter service means sounding concerned, making long speeches, criticising everything the opposition parties say and when forced to act, calling for yet another investigative review, at the taxpayers’ expense. Meanwhile, the voter experience (think air pollution, lack of affordable housing, limited school choices, flammable high-rise tower blocks, expensive transport choices etc) continues unchecked.

Some companies conduct customer surveys (including asking the wrong questions), design their retail website poorly, keep the customer in a long call-waiting queue, or charge steep day-rates for standard support. Rather that modest day rates for customised support.

In summary, too many mass market companies pay lip service to perceived customer service. Instead of moving straight to real customer experience. Mass market products need to be simple to use, clever in function, durable and value for money.

Mindset change please guys!

Country names

English speakers inventing place names because they find the existing name hard to pronounce isn’t very cool.

What are some other options? One is to use the initials e.g. KL for Kuala Lumpur, USA for United States of America, or LA for Los Angeles. Another, as a mark of respect to the country, is to use the citizen’s pronunciation of their own country. Sure there will be regional accents and dialects, but as long as they are understood (roughly similar), it’s still the better choice. And it flows both ways too. Even then, its still a compromise, since English speakers have created english letters for the place name, to use in place of the local language characters or script.

Some countries change their names entirely e.g. Ceylon to Sri Lanka, or Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. English speakers then think nothing of adopting the new place name as it becomes official. So why not be consistent with other place names too?

Florence, Rome and Venice are Firenze, Roma and Venecia to the locals. I once confused the ticket office clerk at a Firenze train station (probably my Kiwi accent) in asking for a ticket to Venice. He thought I said Vienna! Like the saying goes, ‘when in Rome, do as the locals do!’

Time for a Country name change?



I’m a Kiwi and proud of it. At school I was taught that a dutch explorer called Abel Tasman ‘discovered’ New Zealand and subsequently, the country came to have its name recognised with a dutch place name reference (not even AT’s first choice!).

Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud) is the indigenous people’s (Maori) name for the North Island (extended to cover all the islands of New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands) and its alternative, official name.

Meanwhile, one of the national symbols of the country is the flightless native bird, the kiwi. The rest of the World has come to recognise people from New Zealand as Kiwis, whether; on the sports field, in battle, in business innovation, or in the overseas workplace.

My proposal is that the citizens of New Zealand have a national referendum ASAP, with three choices on the ballot for the future name of the country; Aotearoa, New Zealand and Kiwiland.

If it then came to pass that Kiwiland was overwhelmingly the most popular choice, it would eliminate some confusion for foreigners (tourists and traders alike) and encapsulate biculturalism in the name itself – the Maori ‘Kiwi’ and the English-speaking ‘Land’. New Zealand exporters (tour operators, wine labels, record labels, film makers etc) could also market the kiwi association more strongly. And by eliminating the prefix ‘New’ it would subtly indicate the country has come of age in its own right.

Food for thought?






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