Thursday, 19 May 2011

Manchester Business School's "Dean's Dinner"

Yesterday evening I had the great pleasure of attending a "Dean's Dinner" event in London.

The event was organised by the Manchester Business School and was hosted by De Vere's at their rather impressive Holborn Bars location, formerly the home of Prudential Insurance.

The event brought together about a dozen people from a range of organisations with a shared interest in Leadership Development.

Over the course of a very tasty dinner we got to chat and then listen to our "Provocateur" for the evening - Prof Chris Bones who is Professor of Creativity and Leadership at Manchester Business School and former Dean of the Henley Business School.

In a talk that focused more on asking questions to get us thinking than providing prescriptive solutions he highlighted some of the challenges he sees with leadership, especially in large organisations.   He has recently published a book "The Cult of the Leader : a Manifesto for more authentic business" on this area in which he describes the problems and identifies areas for change that will be needed.  I think I can safely say that I have never previously heard L'Oreal, Mary Poppins, Dumbledore and Peter Drucker all get a mention in the same talk.

After some time for general discussion on the issues raised it was time to say goodbye and head for home - and in my case the mystery of why the 22:39 train from Waterloo was so full.   Clearly it was reasonable for me to be traveling at that hour but what was everyone else doing there :-)  One-off or always that full I wonder?

All in all a great evening, met some new people (and reconnected with someone who used to work for IBM but who I'd not seen in many years) and heard some new ideas/ broadened my thinking on leadership development.

My thanks to Manchester Business school for the invite, De Vere for hosting it and Prof Bones for the talk.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The puzzling economics of Friends

My daughters have discovered Friends so I have recently had cause to buy some DVD sets from ebay to feed the new habit.

I'm puzzled by the economics of the transactions.

So far I've bought 3 series on DVDs paying total prices between £2.20 and £2.90

Thing is that posting a DVD set second class mail costs £2.16....

If you also allow for ebay and paypal fees then my back of envelope calculations suggest that the people selling the DVDs are effectively paying me to take them (and that's without allowing for costs of packaging materials, time, travel to a post office etc...).  The figures aren't large - just a few tens of pence but surely if you were selling something you'd be looking for a positive number.

Given that ebay allows you to specify the start price for the auction and set P&P fees and the actual postage costs are predictable I'm left bemused as to why this is happening?

Wouldn't the rational economic approach be to price them at a level that at least ensured your direct costs were covered?  If it doesn't sell then give them to a charity shop and save yourself the cost of paying someone else to have them.....

Most odd....

Friday, 13 May 2011

2011 Christian Resources Exhibition

Today I headed up to Sandown Park and the 2011 CRE event.   It's a couple of years since I was last there and fancied the chance to wander round the stands and see what was on offer.

I had hoped I might find some companies talking about accounting software for church accounts but sadly nobody was.

The "prize" for most surprising item goes to Cross Designs for their men's clerical hoodie .... and the single most potentially useful find was an organisation called 2buy2 who look like they might be able to reduce some of the church's purchasing costs which would be welcomed.

I had my lunch sitting on the terrace outside the royal box courtesy of The Bible Society - to whom thanks also for the much welcomed cup of coffee and cake.  The visibility was very good and could see a very long way (possibly as far as 20 miles as could see some towers in Canary Wharf) though the distinctive arch of Wembley Stadium did have a disconcerting habit of disappearing and then reappearing as the clouds / haze changed.