Scottish funnyman Rory Bremner convenes a historic council on the TEDGlobal stage — as he lampoons Gordon Brown, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and a cast of other world leaders with his hilarious impressions and biting commentary
Month: February 2010
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Most people reading this will know of the freezing weather that gripped the UK over the Christmas and New Year periods together with the associated problems. Although there was some panic buying of food in the shops, by and large we survived unscathed. Did this mean that when the road conditions were appalling, my local supermarket was making superhuman efforts to deliver my Cornflakes?
Towards the end of the freeze I went to a local supermarket and was wandering up and down the aisles when I overheard a conversation between two of the department managers. The first was obviously toeing the company line and said something like “the shelves have been full, the supply chain has been doing a great job”. Nice, I thought, he recognises the contribution of drivers and warehouse staff in difficult circumstances. The second manager said “there were less people going to the supermarket because of the bad weather”. The second manager was either being cynical or he was in fact challenging assumptions made by the first.
It did not matter to me, since I was getting what I wanted, but it highlights a valid point. Accepting observations about full shelves without looking at all the facts meant that I was making a number of assumptions. If I was the supermarket manager I could be patting myself on the back believing that the arrangements I had put in place worked well. Next time there was a big freeze I could do exactly the same. But what if the local council gets better at clearing roads, or everybody buys four wheel drive cars? More people will arrive at the supermarkets and the food may disappear.
Do you think that this is what happened to many of our businesses between 18 months and two years ago? There is no need to become highly cynical, but learning to question the status quo and challenge assumptions is an essential component of an innovation system.
Story is one of the best and easiest ways to communicate meaning, rather than just spraying out words like we tend to do from time to time. I came across this little gem the other day which seems apt and needs no further explanation. I do not know the author so if you have come across this before and can attribute the author please let me know.
What is recession?
This story is about a man who once upon a time was selling Hotdogs by the roadside. He was illiterate, so he never read newspapers. He was hard of hearing, so he never listened to the radio. His eyes were weak, so he never watched television. But enthusiastically, he sold lots of hotdogs. He was smart enough to offer some attractive schemes to increase his sales. His sales and profit went up. He ordered more and more raw material and buns and sold more. He recruited more supporting staff to serve more customers. He started offering home deliveries. Eventually he got himself a bigger and better stove. As his business was growing, the son, who had recently graduated from college, joined his father.
Then something strange happened. The son asked, “Dad, aren’t you aware of the great recession that is coming our way?” The father replied, “No, but tell me about it.” The son said, “The international situation is terrible. The domestic situation is even worse. We should be prepared for the coming bad times.”
The man thought that since his son had been to college, read the papers, listened to the radio and watched TV. He ought to know and his advice should not be taken lightly. So from the next day onwards, the father cut down the his raw material order and buns, took down the colourful signboard, removed all the special schemes he was offering to the customers and was no longer as enthusiastic. He reduced his staff numbers. Very soon, fewer and fewer people bothered to stop at his Hotdog stand. And his sales started coming down rapidly and so did the profit. The father said to his son, “Son, you were right. We are in the middle of a recession and crisis. I am glad you warned me ahead of time.”
This is an old Apple promo video that has reappeared with the release of the iPad. It features many characters that at the time were regarded as crazy in some way. Yet their craziness, curiosity, creativity and desire to disrupt the status quo had a lasting effect on all of us. So can we learn from this? Is crazy good and just how much of it do we need, after all it is a powerful phenomenon. So just how far should we be prepared to go to try and change things? How far would YOU be prepared to go?