Are vaccines safe? What about that possible connection between the MMR vaccine and autism – no smoke without fire, right? You need to know this: that particular fire was lit by the very man who claimed he was trying to put it out. There never was a plausible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The doctor who investigated it, Andrew Wakefield, did not think so either. But he earned himself a fortune by acting as if he did. Read More

Books | January 2021

Albert Einstein allegedly had a sign hanging in his office at Princeton that said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” As next year’s business plans are being finalised, pay close attention to the measures of success. A recent chilling example, from UK healthcare, shows why it is so critical to choose the right metrics.

This month the review into maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust concluded that many lives had been lost there needlessly, Read More

Thought leadership | December 2020

Elections are popularity contests. There’s only one winner.  Successful marketing is also about being chosen, so is it a good strategy to be a bit Marmite? Or is it better to avoid extremes and be acceptable to all?

Many a brand manager claims that success will come from building a small but immensely loyal following. Marmite embraced the fact that some people can’t stand the stuff with its “Love it or hate it” advertising. Read More

Thought leadership | November 2020

The pandemic, and the ever-changing guidance for social interaction, has led to rapid changes in people’s behaviour. While falling revenues make it tempting to cut budgets, reduce activity and save money, some businesses have seen opportunity in the chaos. Changing behaviour is always a business opportunity, if you know about it and can move fast in response. Here are three options to consider.

+  Process and service innovation

Enforced change doesn’t have to be for the worse. Read More

Thought leadership | October 2020

Having too much choice can be paralysing. This was demonstrated in a famous experiment about jam, which may have inspired the “rule of three” much loved by behavioural economists – the idea that when you give people three price options, whether it’s three quality tiers, three product bundles, or just three different versions, most of us default to the middle one. A McKinsey consultant said it was the reason they now practise the 3 x 3 Rule, Read More

Books | September 2020

How much of the change that’s been forced on us by the pandemic will stick? What can businesses learn from it? The best way to answer that is to understand what makes people change their habits. Knowing that, businesses can enact change for mutual benefit without waiting for a crisis.

The BBC reported the case of a fish and chip shop which had offered a click and collect service for years to get people to pre-order, Read More

Thought leadership | August 2020

This book explains how ordinary, decent people end up doing really bad stuff at work, while others find it easy to turn a blind eye to the wrongdoing. The best, or worst, stories are about how a cumulation of little steps can lead to disaster. In the case of the Texas City oil refinery disaster, it was an accumulation of non-steps: people not daring to question, or to answer back, or to tell the truth that they knew wasn’t welcome. Read More

Books | July 2020

The business case for diversity has largely been made, as has the moral case. But has it really been believed and internalised? Here, Syed demonstrates the true impact and value of diversity, explaining how it actually works. Once you’ve read this book, you will want to seek out the right kinds of diversity for the right kinds of problems and challenges, and you’ll be able to respond convincingly to the standard objection that recruiting for diversity inevitably leads to a dilution of standards. Read More

Books | June 2020

Hands up those marketers who planned for a situation where some sectors simply cannot do business at all, where demand is constrained by government edict, and no amount of advertising will get people into your store, restaurant, hotel or plane. Me neither.

So, what should brands do in the Covid crisis? First, the things not to do:

1. Don’t assume you have to say anything

Maybe you should just save the money. Read More


You can’t solve the crisis, but you do have a unique part to play. Even in the army during wartime, 90% of people are not on the front line fighting. That doesn’t make them irrelevant.

Right now many businesses are struggling, some fighting for survival. The executive team are fully occupied with operational issues, hunting for revenue, having tough conversations about reducing costs. How can a non-executive director add value? You probably can’t do much to generate revenue. Read More

Thought leadership | April 2020