14 December 2005

Losing touch with reality

I lost touch with reality this morning. I've been reading "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and this morning as I was waking up, it dawned on me how irresponsible J K Rowling was allowing everybody to know so many potentially dangerous spells!

12 December 2005

A sad reminder - 17 years today ...

I was reminded today that we have lived in the UK for 17 years and I hasten to add that we have been very happy here. We arrived here in November 1988 and we spent some time with my wife's grandfather in Sussex. I remember making a trip by train into London in early December with my wife. We went through Clapham Junction only minutes after the rail disaster there – this event has now become a sombre reminder of our arrival in the UK. Sadly it seems we have had a few too many rail disasters since then.

11 December 2005

Encourgagement for Bryn and Andrea

Earlier tonight my family and I watched Bryn Terfel and Andrea Bocelli sing “The Pearl Fishers' Duet” on the Royal Variety Show. My eight year old son was obviously quite impressed because he turned round and asked "Do you think they are both in the choir?"

Of course he’s quite right, only the best singers are in the choir and these two gentlemen have received a compliment of high esteem from my young son. Keep it up chaps ;-)

05 December 2005

Business Foolishness - not us Brits!

Clive Davis's posting The British way of doing business? caught my eye. His is a comment on a posting by Adriana Cronin-Lukas who I believe is a management consultant.

Unfortunately, I think that management consultants sometimes have a reputation for telling you what you already know about your company, but at great cost. This has given 'consultants' a bad image on both sides of the Atlantic, you only have to look at some of the Dilbert cartoons top see this (note the level of my references). The difference between the Brits and the Americans is possibly a level of cynicism and a desire to not be seen to have been 'caught out' or look a fool. This is why the Brits tend to be very suspicious of anybody with the title 'consultant'. Rather than been caught out by a consultant and losing lots of money, we'd rather not use them at all, or at least test them first – this gives us the appearance of being very cautious and reserved. Americans seem to be more willing to give anything a go; they wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity.

So when we see our friends over the Atlantic trying absolutely anything (including consultants) and then failing we have a good laugh because they look foolish but alas, they probably don't understand what we're laughing at. The Americans are more willing to give it a go and see this as preferable to indecision or a fear of failure. The Americans come across more positive, open and decisive; and us Brits seem more negative, suspicious and indecisive. But once us Brits have made a decision we have to ensure that we don’t look the fool so we need to succeed. We become terriers and quite determined, perhaps more so than the Americans, and all because we don’t want to look the fool!

I think that if we are honest, both sides of the Atlantic both respect, admire and are equally frustrated and irritated by the way each of us do business. No matter what we say, the UK and USA are friends and perhaps the ideal is somewhere in between.

This sort of relationship exists between us Brits and countries in the Far East. Here we see the British often frustrated when dealing with businesses in countries such as Japan, Korea and China. Endless meetings that reach no conclusions that ultimately revolve around the need to 'not lose face' (i.e. not look a fool). But when they make a decision they certainly make sure they get the job done.

Of course, another downside of not wanting to look the fool is that we don’t like to admit we are wrong. Again, the degree of not wanting to look the fool is almost a linear scale from west to east. Conversely, an upside is the need to test to make sure it’s right. I feel the Americans aren’t always as good as us and possibly the Far East is better? But then they won’t want to admit they are wrong as quickly as we British do and the Americans can’t understand why we just don’t drop the project and start again … and so we can go backwards and forwards.

This is probably one of the best arguments for a global economy – the diversity of approaches is healthy. It is the same argument for opening our doors to other cultures within our own borders, the diversity helps our own economies, helps us to work in different ways. Indeed, it would be a shame to lose these differences and hopefully the cultural identities will be retained.

It is often the complaint that cultures are being Americanised, I’m not so sure that this is the case. It might be that American cultural influence is more discernable as it is more open and less subtle. Perhaps, deep below the surface of the American culture is the Far Eastern cultural influence and maybe nearer the surface is the British culture etcetera, etcetera. Isn’t it an interesting world we live in?

But coming back to being a consultant, and I’ve really gone off track this time, there is an answer – don’t call yourself a ‘consultant’. Incidentally, it’s a bad idea to call yourself ‘expert’ too!

02 December 2005

And now about another blog ...

I fear I might blow my cover here, but I've set up a website based using the blog format for our local Scout Group. And yes, I am a leader there - amazing that they allow people like me to do that sort of work?!? The website - My Local Scout Group.

Best Tory Leader? The other one!

Well, it won't be long before we find out which of the Davids will lead the Conservative Party. Having previously said that the most electable leaders in the Tory party always seem to be the ones that have resigned, I've now got this feeling that the best person for the job of Tory Leader is the one that's not chosen by the rank and file.

You see, I'm not sure that I have enough confidence in the rank and file to choose the right leader. I really believe that if they want a decent chance of winning the next election then they should vote in David Davis but I don't think they will. It's about time that Labour told the Tories that you just can't depend on democratic means to choose leaders! What is the world coming to ;-)