Risk Management:  The importance readiness planning | Chris-Warburton.com

With the recent closure of the Forth Road bridge, commutes from Fife to Edinburgh by car have just dramatically increased by 30 miles each way, causing significant disruption for local residents.It is fortunate, in some ways, this has happened in the run up to and over the Christmas period. Many businesses slow down a little and hopefully many people will be able to work from home more often during the 4 weeks the bridge is out of action. (although looking at the crack, there are concerns this could be much longer)However this incident, and other recent examples such as the Talk Talk hack and the floods in Cumbria, really do highlight the need for all businesses to have solid readiness planning. These events, although unlikely, when they occur have significant impacts on customers, employees, businesses and their brand. (… does it feel they are becoming more common too?).The challenge for planners is that unfortunately focusing on the worst that could happen is not very popular in most companies.Although standard practise for some (NASA being a good example), in most organisations, being a ‘negative nelly’ is not seen as a compliment. In the drive to cut costs and focus on business growth, these small probability, high impact scenarios are often considered low priority or even overlooked. However even a small amount of scenario planning can make a huge difference. Planning allows the business to present a solid, coordinated response to the incident and the public. It provides quick guidance for employees, often in what can be a very chaotic environment. It allows you to control the response to the situation rather that the situation controlling you.Although this may not change timelines or accelerate any fix (it is worth having contingency plans for these too), building a readiness plan is a great first step to help you and your customers operationally deal with the situation. Focus on the situation you are responding too, rather that individual event itself….. (in this case, bridge closure rather than structural failure). This will reduce the number of plans you need and there will be some common themes. Include events with low probabilty but high impact…. It is not necessarily have a second bridge in place in case the first one fails (almost the case here in Scotland), but do have a plan, be able to communicate this and the timelines. Also think through other situations that may impact your customers (e.g. Floods). How can you respond to help them, do you have a role to play in their recovery? Think about short, medium, long term duration impacts….. What would happen if this was 24 hours, 1 week, 1 month or a year. Your response will need to change as the situation evolves. Build a checklist…. Checklists are invaluable in emergency situations. A pre-thought through checklist is invaluable in providing guidance, structure and coordination to the team. Pre-think through crisis performance measures…. How do you know if the situation in improving? Can you measure the customer impact? Review on a regular basis, and occasionally run simulations…. these are great to familiarise the team with the plan and what to do. Trust your team…. you no doubt have a great team that already knows the business well and can react to situations. However some initial planning can really help keep things fresh.In many cases, for many businesses, having full scale redundancy in place is very expensive and just not realistic. However planning for the situation and having a coordinated response is possible. It helps protect your brand and reduces the cost of recovery….. an investment worth considering over the long term.

Source: Risk Management:  The importance readiness planning | Chris-Warburton.com

Speak customer, not contact channel | Chris-Warburton.com

I caught an interesting news story last week.The chairman of John Lewis, Sir Charlie Mayfield, was speaking at the National Retail Federation in New York, explaining how he thought ‘the age of multi-channel is over’. His argument: Thinking in terms of online and offline channels is dangerous. This whole concept of ‘the channel’ is retailer speak not customer speak… customers really just don’t care too much about the exact channel they use. Even ‘omnichannel’ is a term to be avoided.I agree with his thinking. This is also true in the customer contact centre world.Contact Centre StrategiesChannel performance, cost and effectiveness is of course important. It is the lifeblood of running a successful and profitable business. We have all have spent many hours talking contact channels, relative effectiveness vs costs, strategies and even launching new ones… video chat anyone… and yes there has been plenty of talk of omnichannel.Whilst this is all great discussion, it is still internal contact centre speak and there is the danger this dialogue can seep through to impact the customer and change their view of your product.Paper statement fees, premium rate call numbers, self serve websites, all spring to mind. Financially sound decisions – for sure. A difficult customer message to communicate – certainly. However were each of these developments ones the customers appreciated, understood or just tolerated? Which did you want and was this expected?In the current, increasingly socially connected world, comparisons are ever more easily made and missteps quickly magnified. The importance of ‘speaking customer’ at every point is growing.Speaking Fluent CustomerSo in the hubbub of daily activity it is important to make the time to step back and think about the larger picture. Do we really think about the customer’s process or are we really focused on improving our own? Do we speak the customers language or are we mainly focused on training them to understand ours?At the end of the day customers really focus on getting their question or problem resolved. They do not care how much it costs the company or whether it offers incremental cross sell opportunity. It just needs to be easy, quick and as painless as possible… oh and by the way, everything needs to be seamless and link together..!Easy to say, difficult to doTo Sir Charlie’s point, this transformation can be subtle and not is not necessarily easy. Afterall investment in IT, process design and data analytics can all be required.However of arguably greater importance is the change in mindset of the team itself. The good news is this is something that can cost very little and something we can all start to change today.Whilst I would be the first to argue all processes are linked, ‘speaking customer’ does enable default decisions to be based on a customer centric approach. Any deviations are then conscious, quantified, deliberate decision, where the consequences are known and understood.A First StepIt is said ‘every journey happens one step at a time’. But it also doesn’t start until you recognize the need to move and decide to take the first step.So although we may all say we run ‘customer centric’ and ‘customer experience focused’ teams today, it maybe a good day to step back and quietly ask do you really fluently ‘speak customer’?

Source: Speak customer, not contact channel | Chris-Warburton.com

Why does no one read my blog – when is comment too much comment? | Chris-Warburton.com

Last year I decided to publish articles on LinkedIn. I had seen some great articles and wanted to share my insights too.Not being a natural writer (I always preferred maths/science at school) this felt a bit daunting. I already had my own blog, but admittedly it lives in what I would describe as the ‘cul-de-sac’ of the ‘information superhighway’.Publishing on LinkedIn felt like going mainstream, easily found and visible to the world. However, I hoped it would help me explore some interests, share some of my ideas and hopefully find my writing style. Putting myself out there a bit more seemed like a good idea.So I wrote my first piece. Taking inspiration from the women’s world cup on at the time, it highlighted leadership qualities which are also relevant in the modern office. Everything was written, re-written, edited, re-edited. I attached a photo and with a nervous finger pressed PUBLISH.As the little red icons started to appear in the top right hand corner of people’s screens, I quickly turned to see the stats: 10, 20, 50 people, it was being read… what a buzz! I even had some nice comments (thank you).And so I have been hooked, trying to publish something new, thought provoking and relevant each month.However as I gained experience and the articles have started building I have also noticed something interesting. After an initial burst of interest, the number of views of each subsequent article have flatlined or decreased. I was not alone. As I published more I noticed other people were starting to publish too. It was as if we had all discovered it together – at the same time. It felt like there was more comment out there, all looking for visibility…. it was getting a tougher market, harder to get new readers.This got me thinking.Is this really a trend? When is comment too much comment? Is too much content being posted, are readers losing interest? If so, just how do you maintain or increase your readership?Whilst readership is important, (how do people know what you are saying if they don’t read your blog), this should not be the sole goal for publishing. I believe you need to decide your own reasons and objectives. For example, is it to explain new ideas, engage in discussion or just reach a new set of contacts?Without this, it is a quick race to the bottom, with funny pictures, pop quizzes and one liners. They are extremely popular, but add little value and people see through them, not remembering who or what was posted.Once your reason for writing are clear, it is also worth setting out your own set of publishing guidelines. There is plenty out there on writing great articles, however here are a few of my own thoughts on guidelines. Think carefully about the headline. Just like any newspaper: great headline, summarise the points early, explain the points and summarise again. Keep it positive. Explain even negative points in positive terms, not critical. Have an engaging point or non conventional view. Readers are better engaged, even if they don’t agree with your point of view. Be personal and authentic. The audience wants to hear from you, not from an imaginary persona, especially in a blog article. Don’t make it verbose or too long. Short, snappy to the point is more popular… (I struggle with this one!). Link and reference well. View, like and engage with other bloggers. Likes, comments, shares, all spread blog posts to your network.Lastly: caution with kittens… I accept the line is blurring and pictures of cute kittens are fun, but try to stay focused on your objective and message, use with caution, only to re-enforce your point.Why does no one read your blog, is there too much comment? There has been an explosion of ideas and the interaction is undoubtably a positive thing. As a reader it can be harder to filter out the noise and as a writer harder to reach the reader. However I am not sure that number of views really matters in the long term. Engage the audience and they will return.After all, an engaged reader is always many times more valuable than one which is not.

Source: Why does no one read my blog – when is comment too much comment? | Chris-Warburton.com

The end of outbound calls as we know it? | Chris-Warburton.com

This week I was chatting with a couple of folks in Canada, as part of my new role at a new company.Inevitably our conversation turned to contact strategy and in particular reflections on the use of predictive dialers in the UK.Now, in Canada we were always careful with making calls, cautious with mobile phones, respecting times and timezones. However the dialer still remained a big part of the day.It was therefore initially surprising when I returned to the UK and observed just how the how little the dialer was being used. Legislation I discovered, backed by high fines (up to £2mm) had really changed the industry and the outbound call was on the decline.UK Rules: Ahead of the curve?For those not in the UK, these are the rules that generated the change. The ‘abandoned call’ rate shall be no more than three per cent of ‘live calls’ over a 24 hour period In the event of an ‘abandoned call’, a very brief recorded information message must be played within 2 seconds Calls which are not answered must ring for a minimum of 15 seconds before being terminated When an ‘abandoned call’ has been made, any repeat calls to that number in the following 72 hours may only be made with the guaranteed presence of a live operator (the ‘72 hour policy’) For each outbound call a Caller Line Identification (CLI) number needs to be presented Any call made to the CLI number cannot not be used as an opportunity to market to that person, without consent. Records are to be kept for a minimum period of six months that demonstrate compliance with the above Additionally, if your dialer thinks it has connected to an Answer Machine, then any extra calls made that day must guarantee an agentImpact on Collection OperationsOther markets of course have similar rules. However with the high prevalence of answer machines and tough compliance requirements in place, the efficiency of dialers became limited.And, it has had an impact on efficiency and staff morale. Afterall staff who were used to talking with people and solving issues were now left listening to answer machines.Alternatives have been sort and volumes have dwindled.Customer centricThe regulatory focus in this particular case has been on reducing silent calls, and their impact on society.Undoubtedly it has benefited many customers, the industry has innovated and the world has not fallen apart.There are now more self serve options, rapport building and relationship based, focused conversations going on. In many ways, for many companies this has been an opportunity, a way to offer a competitive advantage, to reboot relationships with customers, and it works.Broader customer changesHowever this also broadly reflects a wider trend of increasing customer influence and this is being seen across the various markets. In Canada: Customer focused collections is a current topic, nicely expressed in the article “The collections world is changing are you keeping up“ In the UK: A similar discussion and we have not just seen this trend, but also have this enshrined in regulatory legislation (eg FCA CONC handbook)Customers are in control, demanding choices and influence. It is important for us to react and react positively. Something many leading players are doing already.So what’s nextFor the UK, we are now waiting for the output from the next OFCOM consultation. Probably more change and it is important to be prepared. There could be more capacity and strategy changes required. Are these understood, anticipated should the changes come to pass? Is there a plan of action or a checklist ready for when they are published? Are potential impacts calculated and have they been clearly communicated (upwards) in your organisation… avoiding nasty surprises?For other markets such as Canada, preparing for similar changes is also prudent. Are you being proactive and introducing customer centric processes in the organisation? Are you close to legislation and common practice in other markets? Would you be ready if similar legislation was introduced in your market?Ideas sharingWe all like to talk across markets and hear about the best ideas from the best people. It should be no suprise if we see similar regulatory frameworks in a market near you soon.So are outbound calls finished? Not quite, there is still a lot of value, but fundamental change is afoot and the nature of the process will significantly evolve.Time to hold onto our hats and get out in front of that change.

Source: The end of outbound calls as we know it? | Chris-Warburton.com

Leading indicators: there is more information than you think | Chris-Warburton.com

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attended a talk by the Bank of England providing an overview of the UK, its economy and outlook.Now whilst the discussion itself was very interesting (the latest report here), what I also found illuminating was the process the BoE uses to gather its information for forecasts, and the lessons we can learn in the rest of the business world.The Bank of England processAs you would imagine they have teams of statisticians gathering data from multiple sources, with this data being fed to bank economists to ‎explain performance and forecast trends.However they also have a team of regional agents, who roam the country observing economic conditions directly. These agents speak with businesses, systematically recording what they hear and gathering ’the word on the street’.It turns out that these indicators are actually excellent ‘leading’ indicators of economic changes, often providing information and insight before there is sufficient data to be seen in official statistics.True in the rest of the business worldWe also have teams of data analysts gathering data from multiple sources, presenting this information to management teams to explain performance and trends. It is often the role of the Business Intelligence team these days.However, how many of us also have ‘agents’ in each department, ‘systematically’ recording information that doesn’t come from these traditional data sources?Expanding on traditonal measuresUnfortunately for many of us we continue to largely remain reliant on traditional metrics and forms of measurement. We are left analysing this historical information to make data based decisions, trying to divine future performance. Yes, we may hear customer feedback, but this is often anecdotal rather than robust systematic data input.Just like the Bank of England, conversations with customers, suppliers and employees, recorded correctly, can provide additional valuable insight… and aid in this decision making process on a more timely basis.An easy place to startWhilst many companies do already have customer listening programs, these are typically targeted at improving customer satisfaction levels.However structured correctly these can also provide an insight to economic conditions, changes to the market, competitor product development, outlook on future sales. They should form part of your leading indicator metric suite.Setting up your processThe BoE uses a points based system, however the key is ensuring that the program is defined, structured and supported.Once you have support and the data has started to be gathered it needs to be reviewed not just in terms of what has happened or customer satisfaction, but also the wider view of what could this mean for the future, as indicators for other areas of the business.Organisational Resistance?Gathering anecdotal data and building leading indicators is never easy. It feels there is a suspicion; an air of disbelief in the approach and it is always easy to return and retreat to the world of traditional metrics.The value addWhilst these traditional metrics are undoubtably invaluable, developing these additional data sources can yield valuable actionable data to help stay ahead.After all if the Bank of England can do it, is there value to ‘double down‘ on a similar approach for us all?

Source: Leading indicators: there is more information than you think | Chris-Warburton.com

Most Read 2016: Quetag

Always good to reflect back on the year… nice to nice Dragon’s Beard Candy is still of interest.

  1. Dragon’s Beard Candy recipe
  2. The UK – EU referendum: An analogy
  3. Chemistry: Four elements added to periodic table
  4. Canada’s “Other” Problem: Record High Household Debt
  5. The end of your bank branch… as we know it?
  6. A color-coded map of the world’s most and least emotional countries
  7. The advantages of a bilingual brain
  8. Young people flock away from social media
  9. The Industries That Are Being Disrupted the Most by Digital
  10. A special report on debt: Repent at leisure

The Rise of the Micro-Indicator: Getting the lead on leading indicators | Chris-Warburton.com

Office conversations often turn to finding the best measure for a particular process.

Opinions abound, there is heated discussion, however agreement is usually reached (only to be informed by IT there is no captured data available and no historical values!).

It is common in our search to try to look for a couple of ideal metrics. We are looking for something that will explain our processes in simple terms, providing guidance on how and where we can improve performance.

Our hope is we can add it to the executive dashboard, freeing us from analysing and interpreting vast amounts of data and provide us time in the day to to focus on something else.

And there are some great measures out there; DSO, OEE, Write off rates, Cures per customer per hour per agent and cost per £$ collected are all good examples.

They are incredibly useful in understanding process performance, reporting and comparing against known standards.

However some caution is required and this is needed in part as each of these are lagged indicators.

Something occurs, it get measured, reported and we analyse the performance to understand why this happened.

Lagged Indicators

Lagged indicators are easy to understand, popular and great at explaining what just happened. The past can also be a predictor of the future, especially in stable systems. This is not always the case however.

Where there is significant process change, new patterns will not be necessarily be picked up straight away. It can take time to see effects in results and if the impacts are negative, this can be vital time lost.

Leading Indicators

In order to solve this, we need to move further up stream and get an earlier warning. It is often useful to find new measures, leading indicators.

Usually with a causal link or significant input to the lagged indicator, they are not a guarantee that something will happen, but are a useful indicator that something significant may occur.

And there are some famous examples

Some economists closely measures the sale of Titanium dioxide, a key ingredient in paint, as a key indicator of the housing market and economic growth
The baltic dry index, measuring ocean shipments globally, a leading indicator of economic activity
Employee satisfaction a leading indicator of customer satisfaction

These measurements lead to the more traditional lagged economic measures, however better reflect what is going on now, rather than having to wait for data to accumulate.

Whilst they help in predicting future trends in lagged indicators, they still measure what is happening today. It does buy some time for strategy adjustment, but often the outcome is already set and yet more time is needed. Introducing the micro-indicator.

Micro-Indicators

Micro-indicators fall in a third category. Small indicators that together point to a much bigger change underway, often before the larger event has even occurred.

An example is an earthquake.

The lagged indicator is the shaking from the earthquake. The event has happened, the impacts are being measured.
The leading indicator is the ground starting to move, an earthquake starting. If you live far away from the epicentre there is some time to react. You do need to be quick however.
Micro-indicators are the subtle changes to bulges in the earth, the micro quakes that take place on surrounding faults, all before the earthquake. In isolation they may not mean much, but taken together and interpreted correctly they can point to a much larger event happening. They give everyone much more time to take action.

The same is true in business processes. Micro-indicators are the small indicators that taken together can inform us early of events underway, allowing us time to react and adjust. They can be invaluable.

The challenge

The challenge with this approach is the earlier you try to predict something the more uncertain the linkage to the final event can become. Ie the probability that the movement in this measure will result in the larger event is reduced.

To manage this and get higher degrees of certainty, it is therefore important to measure multiple micro-indicators. Measuring multiple micro-indicators increases your confidence that something that will occur. It increases the probablity and allows you to buy that crucial time.

So is the search for the perfect indicator a waste of time?

Traditional measures remain incredibility useful. They have formed the backbone of performance measurement for many years and form a big part of any BI suite. It is still important to have a good blend of lagged and leading key indicators.

However identifying a few key micro-indicators can really help supplement these measures and buy yourself crucial time to adjust processes. It can really help in generating the performance you need.

More data!

Yes this is more data and maybe is not the simple world we dream of. But, in the quest to better understanding and control our processes maybe more, not less is better….. (just a little more maybe…!)

Digital and Customer Centric: The Future of Collections? | Chris-Warburton.com

The other week I was lucky enough to be able to attend my first roundtable discussion with Arum at the Caledonian Club in London. These are held with key individuals across the industry to discuss key trends; with this time being a discussion on “the Future of Collections”. Great to be part of this and even got to write a piece for the website.Welcome to the Caledonian ClubThe Caledonian club was indeed very grand. Advertised as a piece of Scotland in London, you do indeed walk in to see stag heads, stone staircases and portraits on the wall. It certainly transported me to some of my visits with the National Trust for Scotland. (Although in Scotland I seem to remember consuming more tea and toasted sandwiches than Haggis and Neeps, but can’t complain, it was extremely pleasant).“The Future of Collections”The work conversation was engaging and I was struck by a couple of things. The extent of digital adoption, across all age groups The normalisation of customer centric collectionsDigital adoption: Beyond the tipping pointWe have all got used to interacting online, applying for products, purchasing items, checking balances and statements. From the conversation it really felt we are now reaching the critical mass of users, where you have to be online and full functionality is expected. The feedback is now being heard… “many individuals prefer to interact via an app than by person”.We all have experience of this, with many relatives, who never used computers, now becoming technology adopters. The fear of computers has largely disappeared, everyone is and needs to be online. This includes the collections process too and the pressure is on.Customer centric: Have we forgotten how to collect?It has been interesting the last few years in the UK, to watch the massive change in the collections industry that has taken place. Since 2008, it has turned itself inside out. It is now much more customer centric and focused in most industries.This is clearly seen in some of the recent figures from the Citizens Advice Bureau.Overall the number of problem debt enquiries to CAB is down, and the comment was made that this has been largely achieved without a massive increase in impairment/bad debt charge. The customer service element is a focus today, and is clearly becoming ever more important.This is undoubtedly a good thing, but what about if there is another downturn? Has the financial services industry forgotten how to collect or has the paradigm shifted so much that it no longer matters?My personal view is the industry has shifted, and been shifted, to having more grown up conversations with consumers. It has always been about solving issues and if there is a downturn this experience it will still be useful. The industry hasn’t forgotten how to collect.However there has been a more fundamental structural change.The days when a collections process could be relied upon, by force of action, to manually control and manage impairment/bad debt is most likely over….. extra turns on the dialer are a thing of the past… the control points are now much more subtle.A new challengeThis presents a challenge going forward. Ensuring a robust linkage between the front and back end of the customer lifecycle is going to be critical.Once one of the collections team speaks with a customer, I am confident they still have the tools and sensitivity to handle a situation well. However what is now crucial is the intelligence from these interactions is gathered and flows upstream, in real time. Pricing and decisioning criteria are going to have to be adjusted much more dynamically to remain in control.Collections teams are still a big part of the process, handling what is often a sensitive situation. The need for them and their data to now become ever more embedded in the decision making process. It is going to be critical to profitability, especially in a changing economy.Using an analogy…. “we are now flying a B747/A380, times have changed and the old days of flying by the seat of your pants could get you in a lot of trouble”…All in all, a thought provoking and interesting evening. Certainly with useful insight into some of the current changes, thinking and future in the UK.You can read the rest of my report here.

Source: Digital and Customer Centric: The Future of Collections? | Chris-Warburton.com

Think you are in control?…. think again | Chris-Warburton.com

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 | Chris-Warburton.com

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.

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…)

The UK – EU referendum: An analogy

landscape-644323_1920I don’t normally stray into politics, however there is an excellent article by Alicia Ngomo on FinExtra, who relates some of what she has been hearing regarding the EU referendum.

I have been hearing something similar and agree it is concerning.

It appears decisions being made based on impressions, not facts, with real experts not being listened too and armchair experts given equal airtime. No wonder people are confused.

This is an important decision and important we all listen. Expert opinions matter and we need to fully understand the potential consequence of such a decision. I feel this not the case at the moment.

The story below explains why…

    One morning you are on an airplane. Onboard is an experienced crew. They are all highly trained, have been doing this for years and it is relatively routine.

    Then mid flight some passengers decide they don’t like how the plane is being flown. They are frustrated about being told what to do; when to put away their bags, fasten their seat belts, even when they can go to the toilet….. the route being flown is just too slow.

    They feel there a better way, less rules, less regulations, quicker and at a lower altitude. It should be warmer and everyone agrees they like being warmer.

    The pilots quickly advise there is a reason for the rules and there is bad weather using the alternative route. At a lower altitude their is also the danger of mountains.

    However there is disagreement and a large number of passengers, led by a couple that have had experience flying kites, demand a vote. “We could even open the windows and doors if we fly lower” they explain… cheers erupt.

    So a vote is held. It is a binding decision.

    Strangely some of the passengers don’t seem to be bothered by this. “It’s okay” they say, “the drinks trolley came before, it will come again and I will have another glass of wine, who cares…”

    The rest of the passengers, together with the entire cabin crew, go white with fear. “This is crazy” they explain, “I have flown for years, it is not a good idea”.

    The vote goes through and a majority, 45%, vote for the change. So the autopilot is set, the plane turns, sets a new route and descends into the cloud.

    The storm is quite unlike anything any the passengers have felt before. This is the reason storms are normally best avoided, they now realise… together with the importance of wearing your seatbelt.

    By now, the passengers are now all screaming “change direction”, but it is now too late to return to the old route.

    Despite the heroic efforts of the crew, the plane is now too low….. it is unfortunately not what anyone really wanted that morning.

The moral of the story: Sometimes it is worth listening to trained experts, facts, and fully understand consequences of a decision. Yes there may be niggling annoyances, but it is often less risky to stay the course and make smaller changes more gradually.

9/10 experts say we should remain in the EU.

[Disclosure: For me, the consequences of leaving outweigh any benefits and we should definitely stay in].

Banks, a different approach by country | Chris-Warburton.com

Last week I noticed my local HSBC branch had posted a notice to explain is was closing and relocating all customers to another branch 12 miles away.They are not the last branch in town, however it is, no doubt, disappointing nevertheless for the local businesses and customers.Whilst I understand the economics behind of the decision, and have previously written about the changes underway the banking industry, what really stuck me was a difference between the UK and Canadian market.

Source: Banks, a different approach by country | Chris-Warburton.com

Am I getting a good price for that? my lesson in price sensitivity | Chris-Warburton.com

I recently had an issue with my car.Having driven the car over significant mileage over the last 12 months and leaving aside any comments about my driving style, I needed a new clutch mechanism.So I went off to the nearest dealer to get it assessed and fixed. Quote £2,000…. Ouch that is nearly C$4,000It seemed extreme and rather than just accept the price, I decided to shop around.

Source: Am I getting a good price for that? my lesson in price sensitivity | Chris-Warburton.com

“… it’s Groundhog Day …!”

groundhog-386317_1920Yes today is Groundhog Day. No I am not talking about Punxsutawney Phil or even Wiaton Willie, nope today is the day when we all remember Bill Murray and the film of the same name (and it is a fun film if you haven’t seen it).

Since Groundhog day was mentioned to me this morning, I just cannot get the sounds of Bill Murray’s character shouting “…it’s Groundhog Day…” out of my mind, and just like Groundhog day it happens again and again every year.

So we need to spare a thought for all the hard working groundhogs today, on what is really Bill Murray day for the rest of us…!

…. There is a great piece by Dan Lewis today on the film, it is worth a read if you are a fan too.

But: exactly how many times did Bill Murray’s character re-live the same day over and over?

Well, to manage your expectations here, there’s no universally agreed upon solution. But the theories are pretty interesting. So, let’s go to it.