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Whose Language Is It Anyway?

2014 September 19
by Prosperos World

English is a global language, you can hear it spoken all over the world, just as you can hear global languages spoken all over England, and Wales and Scotland, as well as those swathes of the globe that count English as their official language.  Unlike French, which has a committee to decide which words are allowed to be French, and languages where a group of academics and “custodians” get together to decide on an official new word to describe something new, like “the internet” which generally has an English name already, there’s no one body that invents English words.

The language is flexible, adaptable and democratic.  This little film explains it all, yet doesn’t mention Spanglish, oddly, nor does it point out that English isn’t listed as an official language of the law courts in the United Kingdom.  Bonus points if you know what the only official language of the UK courts is.

Is anyone else really disappointed this is a spoof?

2014 September 17
by Prosperos World

Post Season baseball is coming, and to get everyone in the mood TBS commissioned a  commercial for the final highlight of the US baseball season.  Brian Cranston appears, explaining his one man stage show, a work of love for baseball and an acting tour de force.

Sadly it’s just a spoof, there’s no one man show coming to London or Broadway, but we’d certainly go see the show, just buy us some peanuts and Cracker Jack.  Even if you don’t love baseball, Brian Cranston’s talent lights up this little film.

Eat ‘em up Tigers.

So just what is the “internet” anyway?

2014 September 17
by Prosperos World

This clip from NBC’s Today show comes from 1994.  It was 20 years ago, so watch America’s breakfast team struggle with the concept of what the internet is, what that funny little “a” with the circle around it is for, and whether the internet will be of use to anyone.

For avoidance if doubt, Katie Couric was never really that colour, and no, that’s not what all TV looked like last century.

Because I’m looking at a team …

2014 September 2
by Prosperos World

The Rugby World Cup is coming.  This rousing little film contains a rousing team talk delivered by Charles Dance.  Sporting team talks can be something of a cliche, but in this case, the concept of team is explored in a new way.

After the way the UK welcomed the Olympics for London 2012, IRB recognises the team it takes to make an international event really successful.  Enjoy the stirring team talk, and remember it next time your “team” needs to pull together.

Will you be on the team?

The Germans Have A Word For It (if it looks like a toad)

2014 September 1
by Prosperos World

The German language has a wonderful construction approach, you can build new words out of the nuts and bolts of other words that you have lying around, like engineering for language.  This flowchart for animal names pulls it together pretty well…



Using Objections as an Opportunity

2014 August 29
by Prosperos World

Objections are often experienced as an interruption in the flow of a sale.  They may divert the conversation in another direction, which may leave you feeling that you’ve lost control or direction.  However, objections can influence the conversation positively as, in most cases, there is a question behind the objection statement.

If these questions are then answered in a customer orientated way they can build your sales case for you.  There are so


me principles that are worth bearing in mind when dealing with objections:

Do not be afraid of objections

If you view an objection as an opportunity to clarify a point, they are less daunting than they may appear.

Do not counter the argument,  answer the underlying question instead

  • Ask yourself what the customer’s query may be and respond to that
  • Let the customer talk and explain their objection
  • Listen
  • Show understanding
  • Be diplomatic
  • Show customer benefits, where at all possible
  • Give alternatives, where possible

 Do not wave away an underlying complaint or try to sneak past it

If the customer’s objection refers to something that may have happened in the past, question what happened and take the matter seriously.  A complaint that is still unresolved can be harmful to your organisation.

Get better at selling in person or over the phone.

I don’t know why I go to extremes …

2014 August 22

There’s plenty of ALS Ice Bucket challenge videos out there.  people are being challenged to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads and donate to the ALS Association in the US to help fund research into Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which is often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or, in the UK, Motor Neurone Disease.  As with the #nomakeupselfie challenge which raised £8,000,000 for Breast Cancer research in the UK, some people take the cause to heart, some join the challenge without donating, and some remain cynical.

Bill Gates has taken the challenge to heart and his self-mocking challenge video is a hit with the engineers we’re working with at the moment.  If you’re going to do something, do it properly, with a plan.  Test your plan, run a simulation, make sure it will work before committing resources.  Here’s Bill’s guide to throwing ice water on your head.

Stages Of Decision Making

2014 August 20
by Prosperos World

Wisdom (Photo credit: prosperosworld)

Decision making and problem solving calls for a blend of skills, but above all it needs to be carried out in a systematic and logical series of steps:

1.   Determine and Define the Situation or Problem

Identify:  What has happened?  What may happen?

Who ‘owns’ the problem?  Will it be your decision alone?

If the problem relates to a group, all team members need to understand the full nature of the problem before they can decide how to organise themselves to work effectively together towards the solution.
2.   Specify the Objectives

What exactly are you or the team hoping to achieve?  General or broad objectives must be made specific and measurable at this stage.

The objectives – once clearly understood – may need to be redefined or adapted in the light of experience as the solution progresses.
3.   Establish the Criteria for Success

How will you know whether and when you have achieved the objectives?  How will you judge whether the team has worked together effectively?

Find ways to assess performance objectively, so that you and the group clearly see the required end performance.  Then everyone will know when the problem is resolved, and can make the best use of time and energy in achieving this.
4.   Diagnose Problem Causes

The problem must be understood in depth before any solution can be found.

The people involved will have facts, opinions, ideas or prejudices about it.  Gather all the relevant facts from the group and through extensive research both within and if necessary outside the organisation.

Note that removing the cause of a problem does not always solve the problem.  Thus, if your budget is overspent for the year to date, the cause was presumably spending too much.  Deciding to spend less in the future will remove the cause – but you will still have the problem of being overspent to the present date.  There are effectively two problems here – with two inter-linked solutions.
5.   Determine the Options

Identify who will be affected by the decision, and consult them before deciding.  Remember also those people on the fringe of the decision.  Consider the facts before you and the opinions of your team, giving equal consideration to the views which agree and disagree with your own perception.  Gather your options, and clearly identify possible alternative courses of action.  Determine the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative.  Assess the risk factors involved in the possible success of each.

Consider the limiting factors, eg:

  1. is the whole decision within your personal authority?
  2. will it conform with company policy?
  3. what will it cost?  are there budgetary limits?
  4. will more (or fewer) people be needed?
  5. are other company departments involved? … and so on.


6.   Decide on the Action

First decide when you need to decide.  Then decide.  Timing is vital.

You’re on your own kiddo!

Before this stage – and following it – your team should be fully involved.  Participative management means getting the team involved at all stages of the preparation and implementation – except this stage.

Give the decision your full and detailed attention, but never ‘dither’.  Dithering impresses nobody – neither your manager nor your own staff.  Don’t delay in the hope of finding a ‘perfect’ solution.  There rarely is one.

Even the ‘best’ solution is hard to quantify.  How will you know unless you try all the options first, and compare them?  Often you will have to compromise by taking the ‘least worst’ option.

On some occasions the best decision may be to take no action at all.  This is not abdication of your responsibility if you have first carefully considered all the options and their consequences.

7.   Planning the Action

Your team needs to know the decision and its place within your overall strategy.  You must define specific action steps to be taken by individuals and groups.  Your method of communication is vital to the success of your solution.

Where the tasks of individuals interface with others’ it is always advisable to brief them together so that they can comprehend the overall plan.  Remember also to consult/inform any other departments affected.

Be prepared to ‘sell’ your decision.  Communicate it with conviction.  Although consulted earlier, not everyone may agree with your decision.  Tell them how and why you decided as you did – and sell them the benefits.  Send out a written confirmation of key points, particularly if the decision is complex, involves a number of people, or has complicated timing.

8.   Implement the Decision

At this point, the task is to be carried out.  If the objectives and criteria for success have been made clear to all concerned, then you may afford to allow team members an amount of discretion to amend the plans intelligently as circumstances demand.

9.   Monitor and review progress

You will have given dates for each key stage in the implementation.  You must monitor progress to these dates, and be available to give advice throughout and to smooth out any problem areas.  Afterwards, it is useful to provide a review of guidelines for future activity.  This takes advantage of the learning gained for both successes and failures.


Levels Of Decision Making

2014 August 20
by Prosperos World

Decisions, Decisions (Photo credit: prosperosworld)

All decisions made are important – some more important than others.

  • How will this affect the organisation in terms of Profit?
  • How will this affect the organisation in terms of People?

Level 1 – Routine

These decisions concern matters of procedure and control with no policy changes.  Here the manager’s function is to identify and evaluate situations, and to be responsible for initiating action in a predictable manner within clear guidelines. ‘Supervising’ rather than managing, this calls for humane leadership and motivation.  Creativity is not appreciated at this level, as all procedures are clearly defined. The successful manager of routine decisions needs a sensitivity to situations, needs to behave logically, and to be decisive in acting effectively in due time.

Level 2 – Selective

These decisions involve an element of initiative but within prescribed limits. Here the manager analyses information, and has authority to decide the best fit between the situation and a number of well-tried alternative actions or solutions.  He or she then sets objectives, formulates plans and reviews progress. Success will depend on the manager’s skill in selecting an action that will prove to be effective, economic, and acceptable to those concerned.

Level 3 – Adaptive

These decisions concern situations or problems that may have occurred before but not in the current form.  The manager must identify the problem and systematically find a new solution with a blend of tested answers and some new ideas.  Success will depend on the manager’s initiative and ability to analyse and judge risk, plus (usually) the ability to involve and motivate the team.

Level 4 – Innovative

These are the most complex decisions, demand strategic planning, major innovation, totally new concepts and possibly the development of new systems and techniques.  Often the situation is only partly understood and the consequences not appreciated.  The creativity of both manager and the team are fully stretched to find solutions.


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