My new favourite coffee company

Watch out Starbucks, watch out Costa…Change Please is making award winning coffee and helping the homeless in a great way. And, the public is starting to take note.

We had the Change Please founder, Cemal Ezel, speaking at the launch of DisruptionX yesterday. His story is compelling. His organisation is making a positive difference.

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I love meetings

No, I do. I love meetings that are well planned and productive. But, just occasionally I do get distracted in meetings.

Earlier this week I was distracted by words and phrases being used. What do you think of these?

This phrase appeared in the middle of a slide:

Adaptability delays and reduced elasticity due to local and global regulation.

I found myself wondering how many different meetings I could insert that phrase without anyone picking me up on it.

And a couple of words popped up, one on a slide and another in conversation. Neither of them was recognised by the spell check on my computer. That said, a quick Google search revealed a worrying level of use of them.

The tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another; the quality or fact of being viral.

New metrics will allow marketeers to better assess the virality of their campaigns.

A working definition
A multipreneuer is an entrepreneur who is actively involved in several projects at once.

I’m off to see some friends for dinner. I’ll see if I can slip these words in to our conversation without them noticing or telling me I’m talking bollocks (again).

Cheapest railway fares

Rail tickets for Reading to Leeds returnIt was recently announced that there would be a government review of rail fare structures and ticketing. I’m sure many of us would agree this is needed.

I’m on a return journey from Reading to Leeds. Using a ticket splitting service I saved £43.12. What this means is that a website service searched all elements of my route, getting prices for each and every variation of station departure and routing points to get the best fare. All perfectly in line with the rules.

The train companies themselves will not offer this service. They appear content to not help travellers on this matter.

The issue that made me smile was the number of tickets I ended up with for my journey…a total 10 ticketed journeys and 19 pieces of card. But, a saving of about a third made it feel quite acceptable.

A word of warning though. You will have to allow extra time on your journey to allow for the printing of all the tickets!

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The problem is in the hierarchy – the Iceberg of Ignorance

Sidney Yoshida's Iceberg of IgnoranceThe problem is in the hierarchy.

The power resides at the top, while all the information resides at the bottom.

Sidney Yoshida quantified this in his 1989 landmark study, “The Iceberg of Ignorance,” where he found that only 4% of an organization’s front‐line problems are known by top management, 9% by middle management, 74% by managers and 100% by employees.

I’ve always asked my direct reports to be open and straight. If they tell me everything is perfect in their area/department the possibilities really are only:

  • They’re not telling me the truth.
  • They are ignorant.
  • They have low standards.
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Murphy’s Law of Work

  1. The more pretentious a corporate name, the smaller the organisation. (For instance, The Murphy Centre for the Codification of Organisational Software Applications, compared to IBM and Apple).
  2. You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.
  3. Never ask two questions in a business email. The reply will discuss the one you are least interested in, and say nothing about the other.
  4. When bosses talk about improving productivity, they are never talking about themselves.
  5. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a fool about it.
  6. Everything can be filed under “miscellaneous.”
  7. Never delay the ending of a meeting.
  8. To err is human, to forgive is not company policy.
  9. If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.
  10. At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens they are carrying.
  11. When confronted by a difficult problem you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, “How would the Homer Simpson handle this?”
  12. The longer the title, the less important the job.
  13. An “acceptable” level of employment means that the government economist to whom it is acceptable still has a job.
  14. Success is just a matter of luck: just ask any failure.
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Experiment with coffee prices

By not really changing the price of coffee the University of Winchester campus has used 34,000 less the disposable cups in the first year. How? By removing rewards and introducing penalties.

See the video here from BBC News.

This all feels a little counter-intuitive to me, but it appears to be a success. The University of Winchester changed the way their prices were presented. The old pricing had a 25p discount if a customer brought their own cup/mug. The revised pricing reduced the coffee prices by 25p and charged a 25p penalty if the customer needed a disposable cup.

I wonder how much of the success was caused by a general increased awareness of plastic pollution? It is also quite likely that 25p reduced price on the menu would have stimulated sales.

The key learning here for me is – experiment. There are many ways your pricing can be presented differently, trial some new ideas.

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Manchester’s big open data project

CityVerve in Manchester

What happens when a city decides to make its data available to others to use easily? You get Manchester’s CityVerve.

CityVerve’s ‘platform of platforms’ treats the city as a living breathing organism by giving it a technology layer that acts as a central nervous system, smartly supporting and connecting independent systems and applications. It is the Internet of Things (IoT) working today.

Opportunities for projects are being identified to specifically meet the needs and challenges of Manchester’s citizens. CityVerve is needs driven and benefit-led. It focuses on four key areas: Health & Social Care, Energy & Environment, Travel & Transport, Culture & Public Realm.

There is evidence that projects are already delivery benefits. They say it’s about enabling a real community;
using technology to enrich the local experience for residents, businesses and tourists.

This is where, for me, it gets exciting…it’s about open innovation. Manchester City Council says, quite rightly, that collaboration is essential for innovation. That’s why CityVerve has run open calls and events offering challenges, opportunities and APIs to developers and innovators from all walks of life.

CityVerve is being delivered by a consortium of 21 organisations, including:

  • Manchester City Council
  • Manchester Science Partnerships
  • University of Manchester
  • Cisco
  • BT
  • and other tech players.
  • The project is also backed by Government and Innovate UK.

Look at this list of current projects:  They include:

  • Talkative Bus System
  • City Concierge
  • Road Safety
  • Sensing Trams
  • Smart Traffic Monitoring
  • Smart Parking.

Wishful thinking, but I look forward to my local council, Reading Borough Council, embarking on this type of initiative.

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