Creativity and innovation in any organisation should always be welcome and whilst technology is often at the forefront of innovation it is sometimes the really simple ideas that can create benefits.
Unfortunately, in this particular situation it didn’t quite go according to plan.
The initial idea was good. Officials in charge of the 1,200 acre Minto-Brown Island Park in Oregon in America were concerned that several invasive plants were taking over the park and killing off a number of the native flora including maple and hazelnut trees.
The solution put forward was to create a crack team of 75 goats who would eat the invasive plants such as the Armenian blackberry and the English Ivy which would then mean that the native flora would thrive.
75 goats were duly obtained from a company called Yoder Goat Rentals (as an interesting aside I wonder how many of you were aware that you could rent a team of goats. I certainly wasn’t.)
The goats got down to work but 6 weeks later the project was cancelled.
There were a number of issues.
Firstly, the goats were fairly relaxed about what they ate. In terms of the invasive Armenian blackberry for example they decided to eat the tasty blackberry leaves but left the prickly bramble. This resulted in the plant carrying on growing.
Secondly, they didn’t show any distinction between the (tasty) maple and hazelnut trees which they were supposed to be helping and the invasive plants.
Thirdly, the total cost of the 6-week pilot programme was $20,719 which was nearly 5 times the $4,245 cost for a normal parks maintenance man supported by a prison inmate work crew.
Finally, according to a report to the city council the goats “had a barnyard aroma”.
In summary, a nice try but it didn’t quite work. Still, as any successful business person will surely agree, you don’t progress unless you try. Better luck next time and at least the goats had a nice 6-week holiday in a lovely park…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/goat-workers.jpg19193411Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-06-03 16:22:122018-06-03 16:22:12Grab your goat and let's go...
What’s one way of increasing the chances of getting hold of someone’s password?
Does it involve the use of the very latest supercomputer? Does it involve some clever IT geeks hacking into a computer for you?
Or does it involve chocolate?
A bit of research published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour attempted to find out how people are obligated by the kindness of others. Or in other words, if someone does something nice for a person, how likely is it that the person will be nice back to them?
The researchers in Luxembourg conducted a survey of random people in the street asking them about internet security including questions about passwords.
Some of the people interviewed were given chocolate and some weren’t.
30% of those that were not given chocolate revealed their passwords which to me is a surprisingly high percentage and just goes to show that quite often human stupidity is the weakest link in internet security.
For the people who were given chocolate at the beginning of the interview the figure rose to 44% and if the chocolate was given just before the question on passwords was asked an incredible 48% gave their passwords! Yes, nearly half of the people asked their passwords as part of a survey told a complete stranger their password if they had been given chocolate.
Andre Melzer, the author of the study said that “when someone does something nice for us we automatically feel obliged to return the favour”.
So, in conclusion, if someone walks up to you in the office and offers you a piece of chocolate be careful what you say…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/chocolate.png9211637Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-05-25 02:55:442018-05-25 02:55:44Would you do this for a bit of chocolate?
Well, if you are male and your boss is also male there could be some disappointing career news for you if you think you are better looking than your boss.
A study has suggested that male bosses are less likely to promote good-looking men who work for them.
The study by University College London’s School of Management concluded that good-looking men were considered competent by their male bosses but as a result were also seen as a threat to them and their own personal career aspirations.
This raises an interesting point. Organisations no doubt want to employ the most competent people but if a male boss is reluctant to recruit or promote good-looking men because they take the view they are a threat to them personally then it means that good-looking men could be discriminated against whether or not they are competent.
Dr Sun Young Lee, the lead researcher on the study was quoted as saying “organisations want to hire competent candidates but individuals have their own agenda. When employing someone, they do not want the newcomer to do better than them and show them up”.
“What about good-looking females” I hear you say?
The study concluded that the same prejudice did not apply to women. Being a good looking lady was not associated with competence according to the study.
The study was published in the Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes journal and Dr Lee felt her results suggested that organisations should consider appointing external recruitment consultants to avoid personal preferences impacting on recruitment decisions.
One additional point though is that if you yourself are male and have recently been overlooked for a promotion by your male boss then surely the only reason you didn’t get the promotion was because you are better looking than him…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ExP-Blog.jpg9441678Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-05-10 19:38:022018-05-10 19:38:02Are you better looking than your boss?
We’ve all been there haven’t we? Long boring meetings that don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Maybe you’ve tried to give the impression of being interested in what was being said but in reality the meeting wasn’t relevant for you and your mind was wandering to other more interesting things.
Well, if you’re not a great lover of excessive meetings then you are not alone. In fact, you share the thoughts of an incredibly successful and admired business person. Namely, Elon Musk.
Mr Musk’s current business interests include Tesla and SpaceX.
In the past he founded x.com which later became PayPal. Paypal was subsequently bought by eBay for $1.5 billion.
He currently has a net worth in excess of $20 billion.
But what does he think about meetings?
In an email to his staff that was leaked to the electrek website there were a few productivity recommendations:
In the words of Mr Musk, these include:
– Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.
– Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.
– Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.
– Don’t use acronyms or nonsense words for objects, software or processes at Tesla. In general, anything that requires an explanation inhibits communication. We don’t want people to have to memorize a glossary just to function at Tesla.
– Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the “chain of command”. Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere.
– A major source of issues is poor communication between depts. The way to solve this is allow free flow of information between all levels. If, in order to get something done between depts, an individual contributor has to talk to their manager, who talks to a director, who talks to a VP, who talks to another VP, who talks to a director, who talks to a manager, who talks to someone doing the actual work, then super dumb things will happen. It must be ok for people to talk directly and just make the right thing happen.
– In general, always pick common sense as your guide. If following a “company rule” is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change.
Nicely said Mr Musk.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Tesla_garage.jpg19883534Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2018-04-17 22:54:212018-06-11 10:50:27Nicely said Mr Musk
The Journal of Consumer Research published the results of five experiments into how the level of background noise can impact on performance when someone is working on creative tasks.
The results are interesting and in simple terms found that a moderate level of ambient noise is better for enhancing performance on creative tasks than both low levels and high levels of ambient noise.
Or put another way, people are more likely to be able to work creatively if there is a medium level of ambient noise compared to where there is silence or loud noise in the background.
So, what lessons can we learn from this if we’re studying?
Whilst the optimum situation and level of background noise is very much a personal preference the science behind it could indicate that we should head somewhere with a mid level background noise.
Now, where could we find such a place?
Well, the local pub around the corner has a great mid level background noise as far as I’m concerned but there are some liquid distractions that will harm studying.
What about a coffee shop or cafe? Again, there would be some great mid levels of background noise but you’ve got to get there and what happens if you don’t find a seat. All of this will dig into your valuable study time.
Well, up step the fantastic website coffitivity.com which enables you to play background coffeeshop noise on your computer whilst you’re studying.
You can’t order a Cafe Latte or Cappuccino but in my opinion it’s a great tool for those who like to study with a non intrusive background noise.
It’s also excellent for people who don’t have any friends to go to the coffee shop with.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/study.png7411312Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2017-09-10 12:13:522017-09-10 12:13:52Does this help you concentrate?
Do you wish you had a better memory? Perhaps you do but you can’t remember whether or not you do.
If this is the case then help may be at hand.
University researchers have recently suggested a simple technique which could improve your memory.
Dr Mark Moss from Northumbria University led a research study which found that students studying in a room with the smell of the herb rosemary (in the form of essential oils) achieved 5% to 7% better memory results than students undertaking similar studying in a room without the smell of rosemary.
Dr Moss reported that the sense of smell in humans is highly sensitive and sends messages to the brain which can set off reactions and responses.
In the case of rosemary, the smell could well result in a better memory.
This view isn’t new though as ancient Greek students used to wear garlands of rosemary in their exams and Ophelia, the young noblewoman in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet said “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”
So, in conclusion, the next time you are studying hard for an exam it may be an idea to buy some rosemary essential oils to help your memory.
That is of course, if you can remember to buy some in the first place…
(Details of some of the work done by Northumbria University can be found here).
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/rosemary_memory.jpg32095705Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2017-05-22 22:27:222017-05-22 22:27:22Remind me - what was I going to buy?
Picture the scene – you’re the senior auditing partner of KPMG in America with more than 30 years of experience serving some of KPMG’s most prestigious clients. There are over 9,000 KPMG people in the US who look up to you as the boss.
You receive some leaked information about which of your audits the US audit watchdog is going to examine as part of their annual inspection of how well KPMG perform audits.
(a) Disclose this unethical breach immediately, or
(b) Try to keep things quiet and make sure that the audit files of the audits selected are perfect?
Unfortunately for Scott Marcello, the (now ex) head of KPMG’s audit practice in America, he didn’t choose option (a).
The background to the issue is that every year the US audit regulator, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) selects a sample of audits to inspect and ensure they have been performed properly.
A former employee of the PCAOB had joined KPMG. A friend of his who was still working at the PCAOB tipped him off about which audits would be selected for inspection this year.
The confidential information was then passed up the KPMG hierarchy until it reached Mr Marcello.
We can only guess what Mr Marcello and 4 other KPMG partners were planning on doing with the leaked information but one thing was for sure and that was they didn’t disclose the leak.
Whilst the 5 partners clearly weren’t very ethical, KPMG as an organisation acted quickly once they found out about it.
The 5 partners were fired and Lynne Doughtie, the chairwoman and chief executive of KPMG was quoted as saying “KPMG has zero tolerance for such unethical behaviour. Quality and integrity are the cornerstone of all we do and that includes operating with the utmost respect and regard for the regulatory process. We are taking additional steps to ensure that such a situation should not happen again”.
The PCOAB publish the results of their inspections and the previous results of the KPMG inspections perhaps give a reason for why Mr Marcello was keen for any help, whether it was ethical or unethical.
In 2014 and 2015, KPMG had more deficiencies in their audits than any of the other Big 4 in America.
38% of their inspected audits in 2015 were found to be deficient whilst in 2014, 54% were found to be deficient.
That’s an interesting question and unless you’re a modelling agency then the answer for most jobs should be that looks aren’t important and it’s the ability to do the job that counts.
Research from Aarhus University in Denmark though has raised some interesting observations which could have an impact on fast food restaurants.
The study found that women were more likely to order healthy options such as salad instead of unhealthy options such as chips when they were in the company of a good-looking man. The research found that a woman was more likely to go for low calorie items when they were with a handsome man.
This healthy eating wasn’t present though when a women was eating with a good-looking woman.
Men on the other hand, tended to spend more on expensive food and drink when they were with an attractive woman.
Whilst we can probably guess that a woman doesn’t want to be seen as somebody who could eat a whole restaurant on a date and a man wants to be seen as wealthy and able to afford expensive food, Tobias Otterbring, the author of the study puts it nicely when he says “this research reveals how, why, and when appearance induced mate attraction leads to sex-specific consumption preferences for various food and beverages.”
He went on to say that “the most valued characteristics men seek in a female mate are beauty and health, whereas status and wealth are the top priorities for women.”
He also said that the study findings suggested that fast food chains should consider whether to employ good-looking men in case it encouraged women to look elsewhere for healthy options.
Somehow though, I can’t see many fast food restaurants saying that “good-looking men should not apply” in their job adverts.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/fast-food-strategy.jpg476846Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2017-03-18 13:09:462017-03-18 13:09:46Should you employ good-looking men?
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that people get sick. In the winter months especially, there can be a lot of cold and flu bugs going around.
But what percentage of working hours do you think are lost to sickness?
The ONS (Office of National statistics) in the UK has just released details of the number of sick days in 2016. The number of hours lost to sickness as a percentage of working hours was 1.9% or to put it another way, about 137 million working days were lost due to illness in the UK last year.
This may sound a lot but of the number of sick days taken has fallen over the last few years. Last year the average number of sick days per worker was 4.3 whereas when records began in 1993 it was 7.2 days per worker.
It looks like the fall in sick days could be down to a number of factors.
The economic downturn in the late 2000’s arguably caused people to “struggle on” through an illness rather than risk losing their job. Companies are also more flexible nowadays when it comes to letting people work from home. If someone isn’t feeling 100%, a lot of employers will let them work from home and even if they are not up to full speed at least they will be doing some work.
The details also show that there’s a difference between the public sector and the private sector. The percentage absenteeism in the public sector is 2.9% compared to 1.7% in the private sector.
The most common reasons for missing work last year included minor illnesses such as colds (25%), musculoskeletal problems such as back ache (22%), mental health problems including stress and depression (11.5%), stomach upsets (6.6%) and headaches and migraines (3.4%).
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/illness-at-work.jpg476846Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2017-03-04 12:35:562017-03-04 12:35:56How do you feel?
It’s a busy time for new parents when a baby comes along. Lots of employers give maternity and paternity leave for the new mums and dads but what about when your “baby” has 4 legs and a waggy tail?
Artisan Brewers BrewDog are a Scottish beer company who are very successful and sell their craft beers around the world.
They are also pretty unusual. They have grown from having two staff and two investors in 2007 to a current global team of in excess of 500. It has broken crowdfunding records with more than 32,000 shareholders.
More recently though, they became the first major company to offer their employees a week off if they get a new puppy. This will enable the humans to bond with their new pets without worrying that their work will suffer.
Founders James Watt and Martin Dickie, who themselves founded the company with their dog Bracken, said in a company statement that ‘Yes, having dogs in our offices makes everyone else more chilled and relaxed – but we know only too well that having a new arrival – whether a mewling pup or unsettled rescue dog – can be stressful for human and hound both.
‘So we are becoming the first in our industry to give our staff help to settle a new furry family member into their home,’
If any employees are thinking of getting a new puppy, then they won’t be the first in the company with a dog.
As well as providing time off for new dog owners, BrewDog also allow their employees to take their pet dogs into the office and there are currently over 50 employees at their head office alone who take their dogs to the office every day.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/puppy-leave-brewdog.jpg29915318Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2017-02-28 15:01:582017-02-28 15:01:58Your new (waggy tailed) baby