Monday, April 30, 2007

Almost there!

United's 65 year old manager Sir Alex celebrating like a teenager as United's 4th goal hits the net!

At one point on Saturday afternoon Manchester United were losing 2-0 at Everton and at the same time Chelsea were 2-1 ahead against Bolton.

That meant the pendulum had swung heavily in favour of Chelsea taking the Premiership title. Everyone at Chelsea was delighted and we United millions were grim.

The message is – not for the first time in the last 20 years - never give up; and never ever underestimate the master tactician Sir Alex Ferguson.

Just 25 minutes later Manchester United were 4-2 winners and Chelsea had drawn 2-2.

This now means United are looking almost certain to take the trophy and how they deserve it!!

Even the United detractors – and there are many of them – agree United have played the best football all season. They are great value and have played breathtaking attacking football all season in the greatest tradition of Manchester United.

Next weekend I hope we will be celebrating winning the Premiership Title and how sweet that would be for all United fans. We have had to put up with hearing from football ‘experts’ in the media about how great the Chelsea squad is and how weak the United squad is supposed to be.

Just like in the world of business - always question people who call themselves ‘experts!’

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Neil Kinnock - an under-estimated leader

I always liked Neil Kinnock. (And before you ask - the U-Tube video is NOT about Barbara Castle)

I feel Neil Kinnock was treated very unfairly by the media and never got the credit he deserved. The fact the Labour Party became electable in 1997 under Tony Blair had as much to do with Neil Kinnock as anyone.

If you can stick with the 10 minute U-Tube video I think you will see conviction politics from a passionate man who truly wears his heart on his sleeve. That is so unlike most of today's politicians who come across as being manufactured in business schools and just out of drama school as far as their presentations are concerned.

Give me a Neil Kinnock or a Tony Benn with some passion over a bland David Cameron or boring Gordon Brown.

Mr Kinnock delivered a fantastic and memorable speech at the Labour Party Conference in 1985 at Bournemouth. It was at a time when the left wing was threatening to take control of the Labour Party under extremists like Derek Hatton.

Mr Kinnock took the opportunity in front of millions of watching TV viewers to let everyone know that extremism and ridiculous ideals will not be tolerated in the Party. He ousted left wingers in the ‘Militant’ wing with his memorable and emotional words about how far the left wingers had strayed from the beliefs of the Labour Party.

Here is the most powerful section of his speech and you have to see him deliver the speech to truly appreciate his passion for what he truly believed. It is at about the halfway point of the video.

“I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council - a Labour council - hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. I am telling you, no matter how entertaining, how fulfilling to short-term egos - you can’t play politics with people’s jobs and with people’s services or with their homes.”

Neil Kinnock
Labour Part Conference Bournemouth 1985
Expulsion of left wing group ‘Militant’

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Goodbye 'Bally' and thanks

Like all true football fans I am sad to hear this morning of the untimely death of Alan Ball at age 61.

'Bally' was the youngest of the 11 English players that won the World Cup at Wembley in 1966. I remember that day as if it were yesterday and it is perhaps difficult for young football fans today to understand that Bally was the Wayne Rooney of his day.

A huge chunk of passion for English football has died today.

God bless you Bally! In heaven there will be a wonderful football team that includes George Best, Bobby Moore and now Alan Ball.

Click here to see tributes to Alan Ball

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Joy of the Web

Here is a picture of two of my great 'virtual friends' that I have yet to meet.

Felix Gerena (left) from the Basque Country (Spain) and one of my two co-authors of the book ‘Three Amigos with One Message’ met my virtual friend of 5 years Tom Asacker (right). Tom is a very high profile US Marketing Guru.

The pair met last week in Boston, USA whilst Felix was in the States on holiday.

Felix kindly sent me this photo and also gave me his permission to publish the picture.

I am in awe of the positive power of the modern technology and one day I hope to meet both Felix and Tom in person.

Felix also met another mutual Blogging friend Steve Sherlock whilst in the Boston area.

The web may have its critics but as far as I am concerned it has only positives if you look only for positives.

Felix has his own Blog called Brand Soul but at present he is having some problems with Typepad and hopes soon to put the photos on his Blog

Felix Tom and Steve - 3 fine gentleman - I am proud to know you all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A good night's work for United at the PFA!

I came to the conclusion many years ago at work that you can’t bullshit your peers. Bosses often think they know how a person performs by having in place some very complex employee appraisal systems. Don’t believe it. Just ask peers if you want to get the real picture.

So it is wonderful to see the report of last nights PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) Awards.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United has been voted Young Player of the Year and Player of the Year - by his fellow Professional Footballers. This is the first time in 30 years one player has won both awards in the same year. Just to cap a wonderful evening Manchester United had 8 of the 11 players in the Premiership Team of the Season. Again these players were voted for by fellow professionals.

I will continue to ignore the BBC Radio critics who complain of the poor quality of the Manchester United squad and I will take due notice of the thousands of top class professional footballers who rate Ronaldo and Manchester United the tops.

This is the Premiership 11 voted by fellow professionals:

PFA Premier League Team of the Year:

Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra (all Man Utd); Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo (all Man Utd) Steven Gerrard (Liverpool); Didier Drogba (Chelsea) Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham)

Good to be back

My apologies for the lack of postings on Simplicity Blog since Thursday last week. I have been in bed most of the time since then with Gastric Flu.

Losing 12 pounds this way is not recommended.

We are in the final stages of buying a house so this could not have come at a worse time but illness of course has no respect for time or convenience.

I’m finally beginning to feel a bit better today (Monday) and I will be spending the next couple of days catching up on numerous e-mails.

I hope to be firing on all cylinders by the end of the week.

Annie has been wonderful as always – thank you darling. We men do not make good patients!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The premiership trophy beckons for United!

Michael Carrick celebrates after Man Utd's opening goal

Five matches to go and six points ahead of Chelsea again! Manchester United won their latest Premiership match 2–0 last night (Tuesday) against Sheffield United. For BBC report click here

United still have to play Chelsea before the end of the season but if we keep on winning the title is coming back 'home' to Old Trafford. Keep going United!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Whatever happened to fairness?

A professional person said to me yesterday:

‘Yes I agree it sounds unfair, but that is business.’

Well I’m sorry to take exception but that is not ok in my book.

This issue was about pressure being exerted by a prospective seller of a property on a prospective buyer to exchange contracts or lose the property to someone offering more money for the property after a deal in principle had been agreed.

Whatever happened to words like integrity, ethics and moral responsibility?

I’ve never accepted and never will accept that fellow human beings can be trampled on and deals broken because someone has offered more money.

A deal is a deal in my opinion.

A handshake means a deal and the sooner business reminds itself that integrity is all that matters the better place this world of business will be.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Two Years Young!

Today my Grandson Sebastian celebrated 2 years on the planet.

Was it really two years ago???!!!

Annie and I had the joy of spending part of his birthday with him.

It reminds me how work, leadership, management and other such stuff will always be secondary.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A good customer care experience

Because I have ranted a few times recently about poor customer care it is wonderful to be able to redress the balance and highlight a positive experience.

I recently had occasion to be in contact with an NHS organisation regarding some money I was owed.

I received a wonderful response from two very helpful members of staff on the telephone who genuinely seemed to understand that I was their customer.

  • They made me feel special
  • They were professional and efficient without being patronising
  • They made me want to tell other people how good they are

I maintain it is simply about individuals at the front line that make it a good or bad experience for the customer. It has nothing whatsoever to do with managers or management systems.

Thanks and I repeat once more my oldest and most frequent rant .... more power to front line staff.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

7-1 - YES 7-1!!!!

I have been a fan of Manchester United since 1963 and I’ve just finished watching the most magnificent performance I have ever seen from Manchester United.

United beat top Italian team Roma 7-1 in the second leg of the quarter final of the European Champions League.

It was brilliant to watch and now the semi final beckons!!

Click here for report.
Click here for pictures.

Monday, April 09, 2007

My most influential boss

The boss who influenced me most was my first one when I was 16 in 1969 and beginning a career in healthcare as a clerk in my local hospital.

He was meticulous in every thing he did; very much a detail man; and very formal. Oddly enough those three qualities are definitely not my greatest strengths. I still have the utmost respect for him and I often think about his style even now, 38 years later.

The reason he influenced me more than other boss is because he taught me the importance of working hard. He told me regularly that we get nothing for nothing in our career – hard work is the best we can give. How right he is.

Who has been your most influential boss - in a positive sense - and why?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Bug's (After) Life

Something completely different this week for the Audio Blog. Annie and I are performing a short drama sketch at Church on Easter Sunday and you can here it in this Audio Blog. The sketch is called 'A Bug's (After) Life' and it lasts 3 minutes and 7 seconds. I hope our American friends don’t get too thrown by the Cockney accents!! We did the same sketch last year and the picture is from Easter 2006 performance. Enjoy.

MP3 File

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Birthday Mum

My Mum who is 78 today

She says some wonderful things. When chatting earlier on the phone to Annie, Mum came out with another classic when she said ‘I’m going on a mystery weekend trip … I don’t know here we are going …’

We love you Mum!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Customer Care again ...Some organisations 'get it' - some don't

Following a great exchange with Mike and Randy about customer care I thought it worth pursuing this with another posting on the same subject.

My basic point is some companies ‘get it’ about good customer care and some don’t. As an 'ancient' manager for many decades;

*I know about the need to balance books
*I know about the need for policies
*I know about the need to have strategies
*I know about governance
*I know about risk management
*I know about legal things

I also know something about good customer care and poor customer care and something about people at the front line (having been one for many years)

Good organisations for customer care exhibit the following:

*Flexibility in their rules
*Power for front line staff to resolve problems for customers on the spot and without having to ask managers
*Front line staff using their discretion
*Front line staff and Managers having empathy with customers

*Viewing customers as 'friends' not an 'inconvenience'

Poor organisations for customer care display the opposites of the list above.

I would be fascinated to hear more views about this.

To me it is very simple but I may be missing something ….


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another rant on customer service

I just don’t get it … I simply do not get it!!

So there we were today in Solihull ….. Enjoying a lovely coffee morning with a group of people Annie had got together for a reunion. It was a nice room in the hotel and the company was excellent – all in the garden seemed rosy.

We all had a cup of tea or coffee each and I went up to the bar to pay the bill at the end of the get together.

The bill was £38 which seemed an awful lot for 18 people, particularly when there were no biscuits provided and only one cup each of liquid refreshment.

I asked if there was any chance of a small discount in view of the number of people who had been brought into the place through the get together.

The ‘jobsworth’ person behind the bar simply said ‘No sorry that is the charge’ – the body language was saying no negotiation!

Result? - The person had 18 disgruntled customers leaving the establishment who are not likely to return or recommend the place.

Let’s just reconstruct the scenario with a different response.

Me: £38 seems a bit steep – any chance of a discount for such a large group?

Bar Manager: Ok sir I will knock off £3 – glad you enjoyed our hospitality and we would love to welcome you back.

– 18 people walk away delighted with the service, they would happily return to the place and they will tell their friends.

In the words of the song …. 'When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?'

And this really is not complicated

Please sack all jobsworths and employ people instead who dare to be different!

Let me be clear - The point I am making is not about whether it was a fair cost or not.

The point I am trying to make is how some people will never understand customer care as long as they have the ability to breathe out.