Serious Business

I travel to London on the train more regularly than is pleasant At the end of each journey a steward passes through the carriages with a big plastic bag, collecting the rubbish.  They never look too enamored with their job. This morning the steward entered the carriage and announced with a flourish: Any rubbish Laptops iPads Mobile […]

Payback Time

Maz Iqbal told me a great story this week…. Imagine you were an employee of a large business.  You worked in a factory, or a shop, or a warehouse or maybe you were an agent in a call centre. A big call centre where they measured your every move: how long your calls were how long […]

The Birth of the Sacred Cow

Legend has it that the tie that I wore to work this morning started life hundreds of years ago as a neck cloth that was “easily changed to minimise the soiling of a doublet.” Or, to put it in rather less grand terms, a bib. From function to fashion 400 years ago, Croatian mercenaries fighting […]

Customer Complaints: Does Your Bank Act Like a 3 Year Old?

Part 1:  How children behave There was a little girl Who had a little curl Right in the middle of her forehead When she was good she was very very good And when she was bad she was horrid    I didn’t really understand that nursery rhyme until I had daughters.  Now I have a […]

Management Targets Result in the World’s Largest Stag Party

Since 1978 China has had a One Child Policy.  The aim of the policy is to reduce population growth in the country.  The theory is that this will curtail demand for natural resources and so enable economic development.  Adherence to the target is managed by stringent financial penalties for those parents who’d like more than […]

What did Tony Blair do for Customer Service?

Control versus empowerment: Option 1.  Rule with an iron fist, don’t allow employees to show any initiative, make sure they do what the centre says they must do, be inflexible, remove yourself from the action. Option 2.  Empower people, let them do whatever they think is the right thing, let processes and standards diverge, all […]

The Prescription

My one year old daughter has a bad case of eczema. I took her to the Doctor who wrote out a prescription for a steroid cream. He muttered that the PCT (Primary Care Trust) would not be happy with him. This cream only contains 0.5% active ingredient and is £12 a tube The one the […]

Star Chamber

George Osborne is to create a “Star Chamber” as part of his attempts to cut government spending.  It will be a committee of senior civil servants and politicians.  Ministers are invited to present their budgets to them for discussion. If a minister gains the Star Chamber’s approval he can join the committee to “discuss” other […]

Learning French

FAVI is a French company that casts components for customers like Fiat and VW, a very successful company. One of the reasons why they are successful is the attitude of their CEO Jean-Francois Zobrist.  He has a simple categorisation of organisations.  They are either “Comment” or “Pourquoi”. Comment (How) organisations tell their employees how to […]

Check and Beat

How do you get people to comply?  How do you make sure that they follow the right procedures, stack the shelves in the right order or answer the phone in the right way? Check and Beat.  Check they did what you wanted and beat them if they didn’t. Alternatively you could look at why they […]