Published on: 08 Oct 2014
Picture the scene. It’s the first night of your honeymoon. You’ve just married a beautiful Italian Signorina called Marianna.You’re Italian and Italian men have a reputation for being some of the most romantic men in the world.
Now, even though some may say this reputation has largely been self created, there are still certain things you should do on your honeymoon and certain things you should definitely not do on your honeymoon.
Due to Italian privacy laws the individuals concerned can only be identified by their Christian names but what did Stefano do on his honeymoon that led to his new wife divorcing him one month into their marriage?
From a project management point of view there are various tools and techniques that can be used to ensure a project runs smoothly. One of these is to ensure that the team is made up of the right type of person as well as the appropriate number of people.
A well known theory behind what makes a good team is Belbin’s team role models.
In simple terms, Belbin’s theory says that people are born with certain characteristics. Belbin gave names to the different types of people. For example, a “plant” is a person that likes to come up with ideas and is usually quite creative. A “Monitor Evaluator” is somebody with a logical eye who can make impartial judgements.
Back to the one month marriage though and Stefano decided that rather than the traditional 2 person project team that goes on the majority of honeymoons he would make his a 3 person team.
To his wife’s understandable annoyance, Stefano’s 3 person honeymoon team included himself, his new wife and his mother.
The project team first started showing signs of a split when the mother-in-law turned up at the airport for the flight to the honeymoon destination of Paris.
A honeymoon in Paris sounds great until you realise that your mother-in-law is staying in an adjoining room at the hotel you’re staying at and accompanying you to every meal and romantic boat trip along the Seine.
One month after the wedding and Marianna left the marriage home they shared in Rome and returned to her home town of Naples leaving the 39 year old Stefano without a wife.
Maybe Marianna is more of a Belbin’s “Completer Finisher” than Stefan and his mum may have thought.
Published on: 30 Sep 2014
In other words, a number of legal systems around the world place the responsibility for health and safety on both the employer AND the employee.
Employers have various obligations such as providing safe equipment to use. For example, they should undertake regular electrical checking of any IT equipment that is used.
Employees’ duties include being responsible for their own health and safety and not acting in a manner that may endanger a colleague.
A product from Levi Strauss, the famous jeans and clothing company has a nice link to health & safety.
One of the styles of boots sold by Levis are based on the shoes that were worn by Californian railway workers in the 1800s. Their design is such that they are easy to get off. This enabled any railway worker that got his foot stuck in the tracks as a train was speeding towards him to get his boot off quickly so as to avoid being hit by the fast approaching train.
An early example of health & safety at work!
I wonder though how many people that buy these boots at the Levi’s stores work on the railways? Either way, it’s always nice to be able to easily kick off your boots after a hard day of chatting to friends!
Published on: 15 Jun 2014
Delegating work has lots of benefits.
For example, if you delegate work you can focus your attention on more important areas and for the person receiving the delegated work it can be an opportunity to learn new skills and to prove themselves. Ultimately it can result in increased productivity for the organisation as a whole.
I would argue that some things though should always be delegated to others and this includes performing a medical operation on yourself.
Unfortunately for Dr Rogozov, delegating an operation was not possible and he was faced with the somewhat awkward prospect of having to operate on himself and remove his appendix.
The amazing story of a Soviet surgeon who was on an Antarctic research trip in the 1960s has been released by the British Medical Journal.
The task of the research team was to build a new Antarctic Polar base and after 9 weeks the new base was open. As expected, their ship was frozen in so they had to spend the winter at the base.
Dr Rogozov was the doctor that was with the team to deal with any medical problems that they had.
Unfortunately he was the one that was taken ill and developed Appendicitis. He had no choice but to operate on himself and an extract from his diary is as follows:
8 May 1961
“I worked without gloves. It was hard to see. The mirror helps, but it also hinders—after all, it’s showing things backwards. I work mainly by touch. The bleeding is quite heavy, but I take my time—I try to work surely. Opening the peritoneum, I injured the blind gut and had to sew it up. Suddenly it flashed through my mind: there are more injuries here and I didn’t notice them . . . I grow weaker and weaker, my head starts to spin.
Every 4-5 minutes I rest for 20-25 seconds. Finally, here it is, the cursed appendage! With horror I notice the dark stain at its base. That means just a day longer and it would have burst and . . .
“At the worst moment of removing the appendix I flagged: my heart seized up and noticeably slowed; my hands felt like rubber. Well, I thought, it’s going to end badly. And all that was left was removing the appendix . . .
“And then I realised that, basically, I was already saved.”
Wow! That’s what I call a tough day’s work.
If you ever feel a bit stressed that you have to do your own photocopying because there’s nobody to delegate it to then think yourself lucky that you’re not having to sharpen your scalpel and prepare yourself for an operation.
The full story can be found here at the British Medical Journal although be aware that some of the photos are not for the squeamish.
Published on: 28 Oct 2013
During the summer holidays at university I was lucky enough to have a temporary job as a life guard at the local swimming pool. Thankfully there were no emergencies and the most exciting thing that happened was when a locker became jammed.
I graduated from university and now I’m an accountant. My job now involves looking at figures on spreadsheets rather than figures in the pool.
In Austria, the management of Vienna’s public swimming pools carried out a survey and found that bathers were consuming on average 5,000 litres of chlorinated pool water a day.
5,000 litres of water a day is a significant amount of water. Looking at this from a finance point of view this in turn means that this is a significant amount of cost in replacing the water. In addition, the authorities have to spend £20 per day to replace the chlorine that disappears with the water.
How come so much water is being lost? Surely the swimmers are not drinking the water and it would take an awful lot of splashing to lose that amount of water.
The answer is that apparently a lot of water gets removed from the pool via the material of the swim wear. When a person wearing Boardshorts for example leaves the pool 2.5 litres of chlorinated water is trapped in the material and is removed from the pool.
So, picture the scene. You’re an accountant at a sports complex and are attending a meeting to discuss cost saving initiatives for the year ahead.
Given the above findings then would a cost saving solution be to suggest that swimwear should be banned?
Now whilst this would save the cost of chlorinated water being replaced I think the number of swimmers would decline dramatically.
Importantly though I think they would save on the cost of your salary as you probably wouldn’t be in the job for much longer after that suggestion.
Published on: 16 Sep 2013
A school in the UK where a number of top footballers went to when they were children has banned leather footballs for health and safety reasons.
Malvern Primary school in Liverpool where England and Liverpool player Steven Gerrard studied has just announced that in order to reduce the risk of injury to children whilst playing football at break-times leather footballs will be replaced by foam sponge balls.
Whilst health and safety is vitally important for both private companies and public institutions such as schools there will be a lot of people who will feel that maybe this is a step too far.
When I was a child I played football at school with a leather ball and I must admit that I never really felt overly threatened by the ball or exposed to personal danger as a result of (sometimes) being in the close vicinity of it.
Also, if I’m honest I was so bad that I would stumble over the ball whether it was leather or foam.
The argument by the school is that as there are children from the age of 4 to 11 present then there could be a risk of injury if one of the younger ones was hit by a leather ball.
There is also the other view that playing football with a foam ball will discourage children from playing and hence undertaking some form of exercise which as a result could increase the health and safety issues from obesity in children.
Looking on the bright side though, when the 2030 World Cup Finals take place with a foam ball at least England will have a chance of getting past the first round. That is of course as long as it isn’t raining during the finals in case by then they are not allowed to play in the rain.
Published on: 11 Jun 2013
Love them or hate them but low cost airlines such as Ryan Air and EasyJet are here to stay.
Since low cost airlines entered the airline industry 20 odd years ago they have shaken up the industry.
Easyjet for example now carry more passengers than any other UK airline and the Irish airline Ryanair long ago surpassed the Irish national carrier Aer Lingus in terms of revenue and passenger numbers.
These airline’s business models are classic no-frills low cost models where passengers don’t pay a lot but in return don’t get a lot.
In effect they only get the flight and they have to pay for everything else. Ryanair passengers for example that don’t print out their boarding card at home are charged the princely sum of £40 to have it printed at the airport.
There are reports though that Ryanair are considering taking the no-frills approach to a new level.
To keep the cost of training crew and maintaining spares at a minimum, Ryanair only have one type of plane – a Boeing 737-800. This model of plane has 3 toilets on board but Ryanair want to remove 2 of these toilets so that they can fit an extra 6 seats on the plane. This will then free up space for 6 more fee paying passengers.
Their existing capacity on their standard plane is 189 so removing 2 toilets will raise their passenger capacity by 3%.
Ryanair have reportedly said that the additional revenue generated by this extra passenger capacity could result in the average price of a flight ticket being reduced by £2. There would of course no doubt be extra profit for them as well from these extra passengers.
This extra revenue for them would be pretty good but if you look at it from another viewpoint there could be some uncomfortable logistical issues on board.
With 195 passengers and 6 crew all sharing the one toilet there could be a fairly long queue of people going down the aisle of the plane waiting for the toilet to be freed up.
The risk of a certain type of mid-air accident will no doubt increase although the real worry of course is if you see both pilots at the back of the queue hoping up and down with their legs crossed…
Published on: 13 Mar 2013
We all know that the pharmaceuticals industry is big business.
The industry is facing considerable challenges however, with a large proportion of the “blockbuster” drugs due to come off patent in the next few years.
Drug companies are all too aware that they might well need a big breakthrough soon in order to sustain their historical levels of shareholder return.
A lesser known threat to the industry, and more direct threat to us individually, is the rapid growth in fake prescription drugs. Patents protect a patent holder against a legitimate business from copying their product. It’s not much use against criminality.
Fake Gucci handbags may be an annoyance to Gucci, but nobody dies when they are purchased. Fake drugs can be sufficiently dissimilar to the real product to allow diseases to build up resistance to the genuine drug. An overdose may be fatal in the short-term; an under-dose may be fatal in the longer-term.
So there’s a significant incentive for all concerned to maintain integrity in the production and logistics chain that gets the genuine drugs to those in need. Countries where prescription drug usage is culturally common and poorer countries are probably most at risk.
A Ghanaian company, mPedigree, has come up with an ingenious and simple solution. Working in conjunction with bona fide drugs manufacturers, it assigns a code to each packet of pills. This is then added to the box, in the form of a scratch card.
When customers buy the product, they scratch off the scratchcard style covering on the box and then send a free text message / sms with that code. If the product’s codes are genuine, a text message is immediately sent back to verify their authenticity. If not, the customer knows that they have just been sold a potentially dangerous dud.
Of course, there will be risks to this process, such as criminal elements infiltrating the process of allocating codes, but this is a smaller risk to contain than the wider risk of fake drugs, but this is a process that an auditor could even give an assurance opinion on.
Given the worldwide very high penetration of mobile phones and the cheapness of text messages, this is a fascinating solution to a big problem. Maybe in future it could be refined to also warn if drugs are genuine but beyond their sell by date (time expired drugs can also become dangerously lacking in efficacy).
What a wonderful, simple idea.
Published on: 04 Mar 2013
Health and safety procedures can be vital for safeguarding workers.
If you happen to be driving by the town of Els Alamus near Barcelona in Spain though don’t automatically assume that the workers in the road wearing the yellow vests are repairing the highway.
Women wearing very little clothing and standing by the roadside on the outskirts of major towns and cities are a common sight in Spain. There are an estimated 300,000 women working in the country as prostitutes.
Sex workers in the town of Els Alamus though have recently faced a significant number of fines.
Surprisingly, these fines were not for the prostitution itself as this is currently legal in Spain.
Instead, they were fined for breaching a 2004 law which states that workers on major highways must wear high visibility clothing. A classic health and safety policy which helps protect road workers and drivers from harm.
Not to be outdone by the legislation the sex workers have simply decided to wear fluorescent vests when looking for their customers.
Looking on the bright side for these ladies, the wearing of bright yellow vests not only enables them to satisfy health and safety rules but it also makes it easier for the reported one in four Spanish men who have paid for sex to spot them.
Published on: 06 Feb 2012
So there I was sat down yesterday having a nice cup of coffee and reading the Sunday Times when I saw a full page advert on page 8 which was rather intriguing.
It was interesting as it wasn’t clear what it was advertising. There was no reference to a product or company.
It started with the heading “What are you waiting for?”
Further down the advert it says:
“You’re the … type of person we might be interested in: Dynamic, but patient. A team player that can work with complete autonomy. Someone who can form strong relationships, yet thrive it the isolation of a foreign country. Who is already in successful employment … with the sensitivity to seamlessly integrate into the day to day society of a different country.
By reading between the lines, you’ve probably guessed what we’re after… you’ll find out more about MI6 at www.sis.gov.uk/careers.”
Wow – it’s an advert for a job as a spy with the British government and look at this, it also says:
“Perhaps you’re thriving in the high-octane world of finance.”
So, they are looking for new spies and one of the attributes they highlight is experience in the high-octane world of finance.
Well move over James Bond as there’s a host of accountants about to apply.
All your hard work studying for the ACCA or CIMA exams is about to pay off with a deluge of fast cars, fast women and vodka martinis (shaken but not stirred of course).
I may well apply myself as although I’m unfit, a bit overweight and have never driven an Aston Martin I’ve got the complete box set of the James Bond movies so know what needs to be done.
Although not an official MI6 test, here’s a quick test to see if you have the mental dexterity to become a spy:
1. Sit at your desk in front of your computer, lift up your right foot off the floor and make large CLOCKWISE circles with your foot.
2. Now, whilst drawing the circles with your foot, draw the number “6” in the air with your right hand. If you’re a cool James Bond wannabe you’ll be able to draw the number “6” but if you’re not made out to be a spy your foot will change direction.
Good luck with your application…
Published on: 19 Oct 2011
Those marketing guys can be a creative bunch and the 2012 Olympics will be a great opportunity for them to show off their skills.
The Olympic organisers though are worried that some people may show off more than just their skills.
Ambush or guerrilla marketing is where companies which are not official sponsors of events such as the Olympics try to get their advertising message across without paying any sponsorship money to the organisers.
We’ve blogged elsewhere about Hugo Boss and Bavaria beer’s attempts at ambush marketing so what are the Olympic organisers worried may happen next year?
The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the UK law in connection with the Olympic Games) is being changed to try to prevent people from using their bodies as mobile advertising boards.
At the last Olympic Games in Athens a man invaded one of the diving events with a brand name written across his bare chest.
Olympic organisers are worried that ambush marketing may go one step further and people may “streak” naked at an event with advertising slogans written across their bodies.
Whilst a naked spectator running across an Olympic event will no doubt get the press cameras clicking it’s not something that the Olympic authorities and the official sponsors would appreciate.
The change to the legislation could result in a person that undertakes guerrilla advertising at the Olympics by using advertising on his or her body being fined £20,000.
My personal view though is that this is nothing for the organisers to worry about. Given how cold the British summers are I doubt there will be many people willing to take their clothes off at the London Olympics and run as a mobile advertising board…