Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's glass half empty

New Year is a good time to note that optimists see the hour glass is half empty. There is still time for more experiences written in sand.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Boxing clever

What is the best ratio of thoughts outside the box to ticks within?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Safe work is the door to all work

The Toyota mantra is "Safe work, reliable work, skilled work. Safe work is the door to all work. Let us pass through this door first."

As a simple expression of a risk management philosophy which all workers can understand it has worked well until the wheels started metaphorically coming off the Toyota juggernaut.

Some Toyota workers consider that the recalls are down to having recruited people who do not have the Toyota work ethic, but the recall problems are not the result of shoddy workmanship which would be rectified by recalling batches made by a particular shift in a plant. The problems are rather a matter of design. Some of the design problems are down to the enthusiasm with which Toyota cuts costs, an approach which, unless the emphasis on safe work is maintained can compromise the vehicles' safety and this appears to be what has happened with the jammed accelerators. The fix could have been designed in and is now having to be laboriously and expensively retrofitted. "Just in time" needs also to take into account "just in case".

The design problems with the hybrid cars are different. This is new technology and as it develops there will be problems or perception of problems which will need to be addressed. Toyota's reputation has been severely damaged by all these problems across their range coming together at the same time. There is now a view that all Toyota cars are suspect, which knocks the second hand market and the demand for its new cars too. Nothing that Toyota has said to date has calmed the concerns. They need to get back to their mantra.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

No-win, no-fee, no-help

It so happens that a Society which I am involved with is arranging a coach trip for 50 people, many of them elderly, in June.

I have asked the coach company for their insurance details and I thought I would check out whether the no-win, no-fee accident lawyers could give me any advice as to what other practical steps I should take in order to be able to meet any claims should they occur. Twice I phoned one of the longest established companies and in both cases I was told that this was not their role and the line was cut very quickly.

I, of course will be working to ensure that no accidents happen, but I can now see that the no -win no-fee people are , as I always suspected, no-help.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Another nail in the coffin of the Japanes orange grower

Japanese TV reported today that over the last decade the consumption of satsuma style oranges has dropped from 300 per person per year to 150 per person per year with the result that Japanese growers are facing financial hardship.

The cause of the reduction is partly the change in the ways people socialise. Previously they would gather in the winter around a warm central point, often a hole in the floor with a heater over which a table was arranged and talk and eat statsumas and watch television. Now they get out more.

The other culprit is fashion. Japanese girls are wearing longer nails and longer nails are just no good for peeling satsumas. Seems that the boys are too pathetic to do their own peeling. These are the steps down which a once great culture stumbles to oblivion.

Monday, 7 December 2009

A rare sight

Watching the mill stream on Sunday in Wiltshire I noticed that something was making ripples through the water. I then saw the tail of an animal as it made its way across the spit of land that divides the mill stream from the mill race which, with the volume of water escaping ,was a mini Niagara and next thing a large otter surfaced and then dived into the turbulent mill race. Quite a special sight as there are probaly less than 2000 otters in England. Clearly in terms of managing the hazards of its territory the otter is very canny. The downfall in its numbers come from human risks which it can do nothing about. I became a devoted otter protector in a trice.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Handling money and flu transmission

Although I miss the Evening Standard newsellers in London, my all time favourite used to give me now and then a lobster or a brace of crabs caught from his lobster pots off Portland where he now lives, I recognise that if they have to be replaced by piles of free newspapers that this is a better time than most for it to happen.

How come? Well the Evening Standard was selling 250,000 copies 5 nights a week. Money changed hands each time, often the only time in the day that people handled money. If you want to spread influenza quickly it is a good way to do it. So perhaps the unintended consequence of the loss of Evening Standard newsellers is a slowing of the transmission of the H1N1 flu virus.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

"Fashion is Risk"

The quote that provides the title of this blog comes from Sir Philip Green, the owner of Arcadia.
It is a good example of marketing as a risk management tool for upside risk. Fashion is about understanding and creating trends in the market place, about limiting the downside by not ordering too much stock , by offering at the right prices for the target market and by playing safe for at least part of a company's range when they are as big as the Arcadia Group.

But it is also about taking risks, like starting up in New York where Top Shop is a new, unknown name. How does Sir Philip mitigate the risk? By linking with Kate Moss who is a well known fashion icon in New York, by careful research as to what will sell at what prices and in what sizes and colours, by choosing a store in a great location so that it gets maximum visibility and by revving up the publicity machine.

Yes fashion is risk but a smart operator like Sir Philip knows how to manage the downside so he gets the upside benefit.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Suicide risk

France Telecom has experienced 24 suicides in the last 18 months amongst its 100,000 employees. Several of the employees have left notes blaming the company's culture change since it was privatised for their action.

The French put great store by solidarity with their fellow workers, far more so than in the UK. Yet the suicide rate was 17.6 per 100,000 people in France in 2005 (the latest date WHO data available on wikipedia) against the UK rate of 6.8 for a similarly sized population. In real lives this is a difference of over 6000 a year.

I do not have a simple answer for this difference.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Low tolerance of ambiguity

For those amongst us who have low tolerance of ambiguity, who are only really comfortable when they have certainty in their lives, petty rules are a great comfort. They take the place in a secular society of the religious certainties.

The recent story of two policewomen who were adjudged by Ofsted of having broken the law because they were taking turns looking after each others children is a case in point. The people at Ofsted appear to have abandoned discretion and common sense because they want certainty and the comfort that they cannot be blamed if something then happens to one of the children.

Fact is that by such rigidity they have been blamed for being petty. You have to learn to live with risks and to distinguish which are really important. It is not easy but it is very necessary.