Archive

Posts Tagged ‘media’

mid week musings around the water cooler @tomorrrowsfm


Check out my contribution to the Water Cooler debate in Tomorrow’s FM talking about London2012 and the G4S security provision controvesy.

which numbers can you trust?


How much trust can you put into numbers? Statistics got bad press a couple of hundred years ago and I learned the power of presenting the right numbers in the right light very early in my management career, so how much reliance can we place on any number that we see? Read more…

the joys(?) of cold calling


Last Thursday I blogged about a marketing company who would not stop cold calling me.

I am no stranger to cold calling; it was something that I, along with almost everyone else in sales in those days, did a lot of back in the 1970s. I did some more as recently as 2007 when trying to revive the fortunes of the business unit that I was attached to for nine months or so. Cold calling is a fact of life and it does, sometimes, work. Read more…

midweek musings on how to treat people that you’re trying to win business from


Last week I had a message that someone had called my office asking for me. They declined to give a reason for their call.

The next day they called again, and then again. I knew by now who the company was and, having looked them up on the web, knew that what they were offering was of no interest to my business, so when I got yet another message I rang them to ask them not to waste their time and money. Read more…

mid week musings on blogging and plans for this site


I am in the process of taking a look at how this blog should work and to reduce the amount of time that I spend each week on keeping this and its companion web site running smoothly. Read more…

keep calm and carry on? it would be nice if we did


Seeing the lines of cars queuing for petrol got me thinking about how prepared we are for when things go wrong. You can’t foresee everything of course, but experience tends to help you come up with ideas as to how best to cope with things that you’ve not expected. The trick is often not to over react to a problem; why are all of these people queuing for petrol and creating an artificial shortage (and a lot of traffic chaos)? They have panicked on a wave of media hype when there was no real need to and some of the stupidity that has been reported is beyond belief. Read more…

thursday news from monday musings


A rare mid-week post, but I have a couple of pieces of news to broadcast.

First off I had some kind feedback on last year’s Christmas Story and so I am working on a couple of humorous posts again for the next two, maybe three, Monday Musing columns and the first of these is already scheduled ready to run.

The other piece of news is that, having become aware that I need to prune the archives here to maintain space I have put together a collection of the older posts that seem to generate repeat traffic and added a lot of new and original material to be published as an e-book. The completed volume is with Amazon at the moment and will be exclusively available via Kindle to begin with. If you don’t own a Kindle, then  Kindle for PC can be downloaded from the Amazon site at no cost. Click here to buy the book from Amazon.

I Don't Have My Decision Making Trousers On

As 2011 runs out I’d like to thank all those who have followed my blog(s) and supported my efforts over the year. Seasonal greeting to all and best wishes for a good 2012.

just another quiet day on the facilities front line, then Anders Breivik came along


News from Norway last week shocked the world, and we feel for the families of those who lost loved ones. The media have made much of possible motive and the whys and wherefores, but I am more concerned about the impact on those who had responsibilities for the security of people at the two venues that were targeted, because those of us in facilities management walk in their shoes.

I’ve written here about the time, just after the Columbine spree killings in the USA, that one of my sites had a suspected gunman outside. That came to nothing, but we learned some lessons that we built into the way would handle any future incident. I’ve also covered a suspicious package incident, one of three that I have experienced, but I have also had someone gain access to one of my sites and start brandishing a knife, demanding to see their estranged partner, and four or five other incidents involving domestic issues that got to the edge of violence come to mind.

When you are managing a site where there are large numbers of people, probably also with public access, you walk a tightrope. Now I don’t want to suggest that this goes on all of the time, but you don’t know when an incident will occur. When one does, then speed and level of response needs to be on the money if you are to have any chance of dealing with it. How you cope with something like the second incident in Norway is mind boggling and I can empathise with my opposite numbers up there. What they must be going through is something that I never want to have to face. My thoughts are also with the forces of law and order. Expectations on them are enormous and the media cane them whatever they do these days.

In our world, the FM team need to be well trained and to understand what they should and should not do when something flares up, but also in spotting the warning signs. We do have a variety of states of alert, and raise the level of vigilance if we are warned of a specific threat, but so often incidents arise without warning, especially the domestic ones. All of the incidents that I have mentioned came on ordinary days, albeit a couple of the suspicious package ones were are the height of the IRA campaigns. One minute you’re quietly getting on with something and the next you’ve switched to crisis mode: that innocent looking visitor grabs your colleague, pulls out a 12 inch kitchen knife and holds it to your colleague’s throat.

Thankfully the majority of us don’t ever face these situations, and those that do probably only get one in a lifetime, so how do you prepare? The start for the reactive side is in the basic emergency process; you get used to handling these things in a calm and structured way so that when something happens it is dealt with. Regular practice helps, both in desktop exercises and live ones, to settle the team into being able to react effectively when an alarm is raised. The proactive side needs a culture of vigilance, and that applies to the whole team; you have to have an escalation process and you need an intelligence network.

If you do these things then you have a chance of reducing the risk.  I doubt that we will ever prevent a determined solo attack like that seen in Norway last week, but we might be able to limit the impact. When did you last review your process?

never mind the hats and dresses, what about the organisation


It may come as a surprise to some that I spent most of Friday morning watching the Royal Wedding coverage on BBC. I didn’t watch it all, but had the TV on from about 0730 and finally turned my back on it after the fly past (which, prior to the day, was the only thing that I was interested in).

So what got my attention? Not the hats nor the dresses, nor, although I do love it, the pageantry. No, it was the organisation.

I grew up organised, even if I didn’t realise it for until well into adulthood, but my father was a gardener by profession and his bible was the Raeder’s Digest Gardener’s Year. He would pore over this time a couple of times a week, making his plans for the next 3-4 weeks and comparing where he was against his plan. He was never formally taught project management, but learned it along the way.

In similar vein my mother was a professional cook, and whereas Dad would be planning his projects in weeks and months, Mum would be planning in hours as she would juggle all the elements to land each course of the meal just when it needed to be served, regardless of whether it was a light meal for one or a banquet for a hundred. For both it was all about being organised and organising others.

Maybe then it was natural that I would end up working in areas where organisation and planning were crucial. From teenage work on the farm to my early days in retail and wholesale logistics through running M&E tenders to computer programming and IT project, corporate strategic planning, logistics management running big sheds and on to FM the one key thing that kept me climbing the ladder was that I got things done, and that came, directly, from organisation and planning. Perhaps it was truly bred into me.

Coming back to the Royal Wedding I was sat with the Berkshire Belle enjoying a mug of tea and watching the crowds enjoying themselves when the timetable for the event came up (the Wonder of Wokingham herself is an ace planner; she used to manage distributions for the largest retail network in Europe).  One of the experts on TV was asked about the time that the Royal couple would emerge onto the balcony, and said that it would be between 1315 and 1325 as they wouldn’t want to miss the fly past at 1330.

Now this was before 9 and we got to speculating on the organisation that went into an event like this and what it would take to pull it off over the course of the day, and that was what really got me riveted. Later in the programme Sir Malcolm Ross gave some insight into how they did things and I have enormous professional respect for the likes of him and those who put these events together.

As an FM I have been involved in all sorts of special events, including conferences and Royal and VIP visits and know what those take, so the sheer scale of something like Friday’s wedding fills me with awe, but also with pride. In the UK we know how to do these things and to pull them off with such élan.

We have the advantage of Royalty, tradition and venues, but that would be so easy to waste. The eyes of the world were on the UK last week and they were treated to a fantastic spectacle of pageantry that ran like clockwork. To those who made it happen, I salute you.

come in number 6, your time is up – when the boatman calls….


I wrote here the other week about how we might be remembered, a thought brought on by having seen a couple of the buildings I used to manage demolished. Time passes; things move on.

This week other incidents have sparked me off along the same lines though. One was being reminded of two 40 something ladies meeting on a road I frequent two or three times a week, and the other was the pictures of the water sweeping in across North Eastern Japan.

Like many of us I watched in awe as the water swept in. I’ve been through three earthquakes in my time, including one in California that I slept through, as well as a couple of hurricanes, so I have some feel for what nature can do and the sheer power that can be unleashed, but to watch helplessly as that tidal wave swept ashore was a humbling experience.

We sometimes forget that the gift of life is a privilege and not a right. It will take a while before we know what the death toll is in Japan, and other parts of the region affected by the earthquake, but it seems like we could be talking about a six figure number. None of those folks knew that this was the day that they would die. They went off in the morning to do whatever it was that they had to do. Some will have had to be in what became the danger zone, other will have been sent there by the law of chance; the maintenance engineer sent there rather that to higher, safer, parts because of a call for help for example. Fate is a fickle mistress.

When your time is up and the boatman calls your number it is all over and your time here is done. The meeting of the two ladies is a case in point. I was 6 miles up over the central Atlantic when they met, but it was a time that I might otherwise have also been on that road at about that point in space and time. Their meeting was no social encounter; each was alone in their respective cars when they both needed the same piece of tarmac. Travelling in opposite directions they met at a closing speed over around 100 mph and neither survived*. Up until four or five seconds before the impact neither would have had any notion that this was their time. Had I not been elsewhere I might have found the finger of fate pointing at me that afternoon, but the Berkshire Belle had booked us to fly on that day rather than the next as planned and I was safely parked in a window seat on a 767 at the time of the crash rather than driving myself home on that road.

In the words of the legendary Sid Collins we are all speeding towards death at the rate of sixty minutes in every hour. We don’t know when the call will come, so what we do with our time here is important. If we can do something positive for the world and the people around us then our time here will not be wasted.

As I say, our time on Earth is a privilege and not a right. We all have a choice of what we do with that time. What are you doing with your time here? Remember, life isn’t fair either, and we may not get as much of it as we would like, so never mind what you’d like to be remembered for; try and make a difference and do it today: You may not get another chance.

* I had been told this by one of the locals, but in 2013 I found that it was not true. In the accident one of the ladies died and the other was severely injured, but later recovered. In one of those awful examples of fate it was the innocent party who died instantly in the collision, but the survivor was the one who caused the accident. Having been observed shortly before the crash driving at high speed and erratically, according to reports, she had over twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system. She fled abroad to escape justice, but was returned to the UK where she received a jail sentence. Her recent appeal against the severity of the sentence was turned down.

The local paper summarised the incident here.