Algorithms are distorting the news and, maybe, damaging democracy.  So says everyone (that’s to say, everyone in my filter bubble). Personalisation can take us to an online world perfectly in tune with our preferences, interests and opinions, in which everything feels relevant and nothing is dissonant. Bad for democracy it may be, but it’s the holy grail of marketing. What’s more, it can be done by machines, thanks to online analytics and algorithms. But marketers are not redundant just yet, Read More

Thought leadership | November 2016

Disruptive innovation seems easy for start-ups and feels threatening and difficult for established businesses. But they can do it too. Here are five guiding principles to help you.

First, think of being disruptive as an outcome, not a strategy. It’s rarely an end in itself. No, not even for Uber. I’m sure their funding pitch talked about being disruptive but the essence of the idea was using mobile technology to match capacity with demand in real time. Read More

Thought leadership | November 2016

Why can’t we learn from failure? Because even in a no-blame culture it is human to deceive ourselves, and we don’t even know we’re doing it. It’s hard to change a belief we’re invested in, as Syed illustrates with true stories of miscarriages of justice, in which bad verdicts were maintained despite clear evidence they were wrong.

This book is recommended reading for anyone trying to learn, improve or innovate at work. In a well-researched book full of engrossing examples, Read More

Books | October 2016

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

Attributed by Paul Samuelson, Nobel Laureate in Economics, to John Maynard Keynes Read More

Quotes | October 2016

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain, writer Read More

Quotes | October 2016

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent, said Eleanor Roosevelt. Jez Rose is not so succinct. His book is about the idea that other people can’t make you feel things or react in prescribed ways. You can control how you feel and how you will respond. Between stimulus and response there’s a gap in which to choose. That’s where you can “flip the switch”.

The obvious way to “flip the switch” is in your immediate response to stimulus, Read More

Books | September 2016

As you came through airport security this summer, did you pop one of those smiley faces as you scooped up your bags and swung past towards your departure gate? The company behind them, HappyOrNot, says that using faces rather than numerical scores increases positive ratings. That seems appealing. But it misses the point. Positive ratings are over-rated.

There’s a host of reasons for low scores, from ad hoc operational failures through to structural factors that are slow or costly to change, Read More

Thought leadership | September 2016

This book promises “practical techniques for a sharper mind”. If you believe, as the author does, that a sharper mind means being able to remember stuff, then it delivers. It walks you through easy, step-by-step exercises to build your ability to remember. The author is a US memory champion, so we can believe him when he says you have to study and practise, as he does.

Why bother? The examples in the introduction aren’t convincing, Read More

Books | August 2016

“Learn how to read others and communicate with confidence” says the subtitle. It’s a useful reminder to be conscious of your own body language and that of others, but if there is a universal body language you can learn to read and to speak, this little book only does pidgin level. Approach it as a refresher of the basics you already know. It doesn’t reveal any great secrets, but there are a few useful tips to help you maximise positive impact. Read More

Books | August 2016

Marketing Week recently claimed that marketing and sales are pretty much the same these days (lead article on 12 May 2016). They are wrong. It is a dangerous idea. The more a company believes marketing and sales are the same thing, the harder they will need to push to persuade customers to buy. And if they think marketing is about persuasion, or even about communication, they are in big trouble. Read More