March 2010


Sometimes you get the feeling that you saw a newly minted but bad idea coming. No such déjà vu as précédemment vu (to hoist myself on a Franglais petard for your delight and delectation). In June 2009, we published an article here – 360 Haiku – about the pros and cons of private tweet-style systems for providing inter-personal feedback. Lo and behold, a recent Independent article drew my attention to a new website: http://failin.gs/, where you can sign up to allow your ‘friends’ to offer you direct (but anonymised) feedback. Our original article started with the words “I’ve always had a ‘thing’ about the difference between ‘the possible’ and ‘the desirable’.” I live in the vain hope that, should I sign up at failin.gs, one kind friend might describe me as a prescient …

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24 March was, of course, Budget Day. To hijack one of the phrases of our times, a good day to bury pretty much any kind of news that wasn’t about NI contributions, duty rates on cider or stamp duty. Scanning the main news headlines for the day on the web, little else got a look in. There was a murder in a Post Office, and the UK’s Diplomatic spat with Israel grew slightly sharper teeth, but one anniversary passed unmarked by the majority of us. Given the nature of the anniversary, the reasons for celebrating it, and its resonance, it would be uplifting to think a sense of irony might register. But allow us to explain – March 24 was Ada Lovelace Day.

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Last June, we wrote an article – inspired by a post, 10 Tenets for the New HR at KnowHR.com – about the imperatives and priorities for HR in our current workplace climates. Our concern was that HR needed to purchase training intelligently – grilling suppliers about transfer and application, evaluation, return on investment, progress measurement – so that had compelling evidence to back their arguments and claims not just for budget, but to have an maintain a seat at we might refer to as ‘The Captain’s Table’. This time around, we want to look at this from a different angle: asking HR to consider what happens when that seat is lost, when the debate continues without them and they have no voice of their own to speak with.

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It seems logical to suggest that an organisation whose appeal to its customer base is largely built around the personal style of its staff, and their ability to project a compelling and relevant sense of personality, should do whatever it can to keep them engaged and emphasise their individuality. In the case of an old friend, closely involved in community radio, it seems particularly relevant: what is a DJ or a radio presenter if not a very real case of human capital? So you would think that there would be an obvious, clear link between organisational brand (the character of the station as its listeners perceive it), employer brand (the behaviour of the station towards its DJs to keep them committed and passionate about their individual programmes), and employee engagement. Oddly, however, it seems one community radio station offers a potential case study in how to turn off if not the audience (though that may remain to be seen) then its own presenters.

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(Today’s first post is a guest contribution from ASK Associate, Adrian Goodall: for more about Adrian, visit his Executive Coaching profile at the ASK website).

I’ve always had a soft spot for ants, ever since I used to gaze for hours at their industrious, community efforts to rebuild the nests I had unearthed as a curious young lad. Such a seemingly insignificant creature capable of extraordinary feats.

So I was delighted to see the ant recognised for its amazing strength and extraordinary feet (sic) in the recent Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council science photo competition: click here for the Telegraph’s report.

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Once upon a time, there was a wealthy booming city – in 1950, the fourth largest in the United States. Its prosperity and growth was founded on an industry that was both conquering and transforming the world – the automobile – and was the site of the world’s first freeway. And although the phrase was coined by President Roosevelt to refer to American industrial capacity to support arms and munitions during World War II, this city became known as ‘the Arsenal of Democracy’ as well as the more prosaic – but entirely accurate – “Motor City”. So why did the BBC last week screen a documentary film about the current state of that city, under the title “Requiem for Detroit?”.

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Two examples of the short and sweet approach to the blogger’s art: one pointing out how offensive euphemism can be, and one asking a question that really should be easy to answer but seemed to perplex a few people. (For more Crackers, our regular signposts to great blog posts elsewhere round the web, see the full list).

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