That American business import, “the C suite”, gets some bad press. In the FT recently, Lucy Kellaway wrote a whole column about how she abhors it, prompted by the appointment of Charlotte Hogg as chief operating officer at the Bank of England. I confess I was a chief innovation officer for a while, though, in my defence, I never really called myself that. I don’t mind CMOs and CEOs, nor even COOs. But I do take grave exception to the latest addition to the C suite, Read More

Comment, Thought leadership | September 2013

Have you, as a customer, ever had it patiently explained to you by a sales or service person that “it doesn’t work like that”? Don’t you just hate that! To paraphrase Steve Jobs, it’s not the customer’s job to know how it works. On the contrary, it’s the marketer’s job to know how the customer thinks and acts and wants it to be. All the same, it is possible to create customer behaviour that is efficient and smart for your business. Read More

Thought leadership | June 2013

It’s hardly the end of capitalism, but the horsemeat scandal is showing large food retailers and manufacturers how it feels to be a banker. Meanwhile consumers – or people, as we might style ourselves– don’t know who we can trust. Marketing is seen as manipulative, and delivering profits is represented in the media as exploitation of customers. Sam Laidlaw of Centrica announced decent but hardly sensational results last week – and had to explain to John Humphreys on the Today programme why they hadn’t forgone profits for the sake of “the squeezed middle”.   Read More

Comment | March 2013

Jeanette Winterson wrote in her autobiography that her mother despaired of her, saying, “Why be happy when you could be normal?” Mrs Winterson saw conformity as a virtue. In her worldview, Jeanette’s job was to fit in rather than be fulfilled by being herself. Jeanette couldn’t help it though – she wasn’t trying to be different, she was different from the sort of girl her mother expected her to be. Accepting the status quo wasn’t an option for her. Read More

Comment, Thought leadership | January 2013

Syed wanted to know why his neighbourhood in Reading produced so many top table tennis players. The clue is in the book’s subtitle, “the myth of talent and the power of practice”, and you probably feel you know what’s in it – yeah, yeah, the 10,000 hours it takes to be a virtuoso musician or a world class tennis player. But that’s just one chapter. If you’re a parent you have to know why praising effort is so much more important than praising achievement (and read about the Polgar sisters, Read More

Books | December 2012

There’s a whole industry built on having sporting achievers speak to business people, and the received wisdom is that we can learn from them. We can – but not what you might think. It’s not so much about the value of commitment, belief, teamwork – all that inspiring stuff – as it is about seeing a fulfilled person, and wanting to share that feeling. Here’s my blog post from Brand Republic.

 

Sir Matthew Pinsent is a very big man, Read More