Brain test judges how old you are based on your reaction time | Science | News | The Independent

A multitude of studies have shown how, as we age, our brain reaction time begins to slow down.In 2014, researchers at Simon Fraser University in Canada analysed 3,305 people aged 16-44 by testing their performance on a real-time strategy video game, and found cognitive decline appears to begin at the age of 24.

Source: Brain test judges how old you are based on your reaction time | Science | News | The Independent

How many stars are there in the Universe? / Herschel / Space Science / Our Activities / ESA mobile

So how many stars are there in the Universe? It is easy to ask this question, but difficult for scientists to give a fair answer!Stars are not scattered randomly through space, they are gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies. The Sun belongs to a galaxy called the Milky Way. Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also!

Source: How many stars are there in the Universe? / Herschel / Space Science / Our Activities / ESA mobile

Think you are in control?…. think again |

The other week I wrote about the changing face of contact channels… the ever increasing need to ‘speak customer‘.There is however a more fundamental change underway… as customers’ ready access to information is having a broader influence, beyond just how we contact a company… we increasingly have a desire to be informed and in control of each decision that affects us… it is a growing view and getting stronger each year.How did that happen?To help describe this phenomenon, there is a concept in psychology called the ‘locus of control’. In this theory people sit on a continuum, somewhere between having a purely internal and external focused centre of control.Simplistically speaking, someone who is internally focused believes they control the outcomes…. someone externally focused, the outcome is a consequence of factors they don’t control. A good example we can all relate to, a student getting good marks on their exam. Internal locus… ‘I did great because of my hard work and ability’ External locus… ‘I did great as I was lucky with the questions on the day and had a couple of easy questions’ Same work, same output, just a different view on how they got there.Traditionally companies and consumers both also fall into this spectrum too. Companies have tended to have internal locus of control…. ‘we have a great product’… ‘we think you should buy it’… ‘this is want you need to do next’… ‘you use it like this’… a more paternalistic approach, they are in control. Consumers on the other hand, have tended to have more external locuses of control… ‘it is a great product’… ‘they have my best interests at heart’…’lets do what they say, they will look after us’… ’there is nothing I can do, it is the process’.And, this system has worked well up to now.Matching expectations, a change and now conflictTypically there has always been a pretty good match of expectations between these groups. Customers trusted that the company had their best interests at heart and the company was rewarded with long term loyality from these customers. It is after all one of the reason we have brands and brands we like.However with an increasing move to online, low cost and self serve functionality, we, as customers, have become ever more used to making decisions on own own. We value independent advice and with the increasing access to data are sometimes more reliant on other customers for recommendations than those of the company itself. For customers, the locus of control is gradually changing… from external to internal…. they want, desire and believe they have more control over outcomes.Unfortunately, not adapting as a company, can lead to customer dissatisfaction and sometimes even conflict. Examples of this can be seen across multiple industries; the medical profession, government services, financial services to mention a few. It can be a quick way to erode brand value and customer trust.For many companies this change can represent a challenge to traditional, established business processes… these have been designed to closely manage inventory, products, policies, procedures and control the customer experience…. they also tend tend to be fairly linear in approach….. making the change can be hard, but to stay competitive a shift is required.The good newsFortunately all is not lost, and just as in ‘speaking customer’, making a simple change in mindset can help us all prepare. Design new processes in terms of customer options… multiple alternatives from which the customer can choose. Provide transparent, clear information these options, choices and costs… customers value ‘independent advice’ Educate customers on these choices if needed. Take time to explain pros/cons to them… it is their decision not yours Once decided enable customers to follow their ‘customised’ process… be transparent on process and progress Feedback and be open to changes… it is okay to make changesSounds simple, and in many ways it is, however this does often require a more fundamental change in the business model and process design. In addition each of these ‘options’ need to be designed, with and eye to profitability for the business, within controls so the processes do not descend into chaos. It cannot happen overnight.Speaking is also thinkingA challenge…. certainly. More work… yes, however it also comes with a rather large slice of good news. Customers are ever more happy to take control, self serve and help you take cost out of the business. This is evolution not revolution, we just need to make the mind shift….. start to ‘speak customer‘ and also ’think customer’ as we move forward.

Source: Think you are in control?…. think again |

Struggling with the new reality

almond-blossom-5378_1920 I admit I have been having trouble holding it together post the EU referendum result.

To sit by and have to watch the effects predicted take place is very hard for many. The Leave camp responded to presented facts, by persuading people they were lies, to not believe experts and that we are Great Britain, be optimistic it will work out.

However now they are happening, it is being reported as fact, the mistruth is clear, yet the damage is done. It is upsetting.

  • It is upsetting to watch the pound fall, markets drop, summer holiday prices and eventually food go up. This is now being talked about as fact. Where was all this reporting 1 week ago?
  • It is upsetting to have to read openly racist, bigotted and xenophobic comments being posted online. It insults educated and respectable figures (not to mention making my blood boil).
  • It is upsetting to find out that a significant majority of those under 45, those that are the future of the country voted Remain, is heartbreaking. The young, the middle aged and the EU citizens who could not vote, are paying the pensions of the older group. Those that voted Leave have denied their children and grand children many of the very opportunities they had, a (somewhat selfish) slap in the face.
  • It is upsetting to hear the leave campaign now admit some of their claims were false. Some clearly believed this stuff and yet now it is said untrue.
  • It is upsetting to hear talk of Scottish independence the very next day. Hardly surprising for those in Scotland, however stunning that the leave group are surprised this would occur and the possibility of a UK breakup.
  • It is upsetting to observe the panic and now subdued nature of the leave campaign. They clearly did not expect to win. The reality, there was no plan it appears, and now they need to solve for the mess they have created.
  • It is upsetting to hear EU officials talk of hardline negotiations and limited concessions. The arrogance of some vs our true place in the world is becoming clear. Our bargaining power is now limited.
  • It is upsetting to hear of EU nationals, who have been here for many years, paying UK taxes and being pro-UK now not feeling welcome in the country, being in tears as they drop their kids off at school and worrying about the uncertain prospects for their future.

And lastly

  • It is very upsetting to hear about Leave voters, being surprised and concerned on the result. Saying ‘we never expected to win’, ‘it was a protest vote’, or ‘I didn’t expect this to happen’. This was not the vote to ‘send a message’, it was the real deal.

I will calm down, and probably need to stop posting, however I do not want to return to the pre-EU world of the 1970’s. Something needs to be done to fix this.

What the EU has actually done for us?

As the whispers of Brexit turn into a very possible reality, I can’t help but think of the classic Monty Python sketch in Life of Brian.“What have the Romans ever done for us?” John Cleese asks, trying to inspire a revolution. “Er, Sanitation, aqueducts, roads, public health, medicine…” is the reply.The same thing is happening with the EU. Eurosceptics are shouting blindly about revolution, and forgetting to celebrate what Europe has done for us.The EU has its problems. It is dense, unaccountable, and thick with red tape. But, with Cameron failing to negotiate a better deal, we’re at real risk of losing the things we take for granted.

Source: What Has The EU Ever Done For Us?

After the vote

europe-1456245_1920Tomorrow in the United Kingdom the population is heading to the polls to vote to decide on continued membership of the European Union.

Whilst I have hesitated to mention politics on Linkedin (I have previously expressed my views here, with more articles here and a video here), this is a momentous vote. Whatever the outcome it will undoubtedly have long reaching, long lasting effects on the economic and business environment for years to come.

The Great Debate

Watching the debate on the BBC last night, the tone of the recent campaign messages was particularly concerning. Flag waving, naked nationalism, rubbishing expert/scientific advice and a Pollyanna outlook were all on display, as were the divisions that have opened up in British society.

Throughout this, the media have been at pains to appear to show an unbiased view. Every argument has had to have a response from the other side. This is even if there were no facts and just a ‘the others are talking rubbish’ or ‘don’t worry it will be fine’.

They have appeared to relish in observing the fight, stoking the arguments and fanning the flames of discontent.

A step back for diversity?

Unfortunately this has had the unfortunate effect of surfacing some very unsavoury, xenophobic views.

And, these views have been provided a voice and disproportionate airtime. With this airtime having a legitimising effect, normalising what would have previously be seen as unacceptable.

Diversity, it seems, may have just taken a big step backwards.

It may run deep and could have long consequences, beyond just the vote tomorrow.

After the vote: some concerns

If the Remain group win, we should expect groups holding these views to be vocally upset; they have just been emboldened. Further violent outbursts may indeed follow.

If the Leave group win, the group will be further encouraged, they will be in power and writing the laws. The views could easily get more extreme and easily written into legislation (especially if there is an economic collapse, with a search to find someone to blame).

British society has been built on diverse, tolerant, understated and pragmatic principles. It is something I am proud to be part of.

However a vote to Leave and the associated lurch to the right is not. I believe it will be bad for business, our daily working environment and the strength we gain from diversity in the workplace.

Typically British

In typical British fashion, many do not want to say anything or rock the boat. It is important however, in my personal view, to make your voice heard and vote for the tolerant, kinder society being presented by remaining in the EU.

I am still Remain.

(I also remain extremely concerned about the economic fallout: the financial markets are swift, unsentimental and hard nosed, we should expect the pound to drop and consumer prices increase on a leave result, but that is another topic…)

If it ain’t broke, don’t Brexit | The Economist

Tilting at geographyIn other words, the push for Brexit is quixotic. However close the cultural affinities between Britain and its partners in the Anglosphere, the contribution of their trade to British output is much smaller than the EU’s, as are the contributions of the world’s big emerging economies. A Brexit would not delink Britain’s economy from the rest of Europe; it would merely worsen the terms on which trade is conducted and reduce Britain’s influence in European affairs. History suggests that the choice to leave the EU would probably not prove a calamitous one in economic terms. That does not mean it would be astute.

Source: If it ain’t broke, don’t Brexit | The Economist

Anthony Hilton: Stay or go – the lack of solid facts means it’s all a leap of faith | Comment | London Evening Standard

I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. “That’s easy,” he replied. “When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.”That was some years ago but things have not changed that much. Size matters. Individual countries buckle but the EU is big enough to resist. British politicians have to fawn to foreign businessmen so they will invest here. The much-maligned bureaucrats in Brussels can afford to be much tougher — as Honeywell, Microsoft and Murdoch have found in the past and as Google is finding now. That, indeed, is one of the few real certainties in an EU debate which is largely fact-free.

Source: Anthony Hilton: Stay or go – the lack of solid facts means it’s all a leap of faith | Comment | London Evening Standard

EU referendum: pound falls to new low as market jitters rise | UK | News | London Evening Standard

The pound fell to an eight-week low against the dollar today as market jitters increased about the result of next week’s EU referendum.With sterling in the crosshairs, the cost of insuring against future volatility against the euro spiked to the highest level since the financial crash of 2008.“We expect incoming polls to move the pound more aggressively than before,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior analyst at IronFX Global. The markets’ reaction followed two weekend polls showing the Leave campaign ahead, one claiming a 10-point margin.

Source: EU referendum: pound falls to new low as market jitters rise | UK | News | London Evening Standard

• Chart: How Do Europeans Feel About The EU And A Potential Brexit? | Statista

In two weeks, people across the United Kingdom will go to the polls to vote on whether to remain part of the European Union. A new analysis conducted by the Pew Research Centre has found that the British aren’t the only ones with doubts about the institution. It found that Euroscepticism is on the rise with 47 percent of Europeans holding an unfavourable view of the EU.

Source: • Chart: How Do Europeans Feel About The EU And A Potential Brexit? | Statista

Infographic: How Do Europeans Feel About The EU And A Potential Brexit?  | Statista
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