Archive for October, 2013

A tale of 3 IT Giants…and a corporate ineptitude

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Yesterday was the day after Apple’s big iPad launch event and they released v7.03 of their iOS operating system, so I clicked to upgrade.  Apple has a global reputation for excellence and ease-of-use, so it was bound to be simple wasn’t it?  NO!  It turned out they had changed their T&C’s for iCloud and you had to accept these… simple?  NO!  I and numerous other unlucky users found you couldn’t accept them as their server wouldn’t connect.  I spent an hour searching the net for answers, none of which worked, and ended up having to delete my account and reset it up… Great service… very slick!

Later I tried for the third time to download and install Windows newest  release of their global operating system 8.1.  Microsoft having been dominating this space since the 90’s, so they have this off pat surely?  NOPE!  I had tried twice before, wasted about 3 hours and nearly messed up my system over the weekend.  I’d read everything out there and updated every possible driver and unplugged every peripheral device as it was deemed to be some kind of driver conflict.  It got to 40% installed and the machine (the almost brand new, completely updated and highly specified machine..) turned off mid-install!  Luckily it reverted to its previous state okay but when I called my PC helpline they said “Loads of people are having issues with it, we recommend waiting a month or so till they get it right and and reissue the code”.

Finally, my afternoon was wasted by Samsung who despite being the one of the worlds biggest maker of smartphones and computers seem totally incapable of writing a simple piece of backup code.  I wanted to backup my phone; on my old Blackberry this was simple and took 10 minutes.  I spent an hour or so just trying to get the computer to see the phone, and once it had, the program kept hanging.  Four hours later, I still hadn’t succeeded in this simple task.

Three global leaders, worth $900 billion, seem incapable of doing their basic ‘job’ properly.  They employ the smartest people so it can’t be a lack of capability, and it certainly isn’t because they lack the resources, therefore we must assume it is because it simply isn’t important enough to them.  How on earth do the survive when they don’t care if their products work properly?  It is pretty hard to avoid their products so we have to lump their lousy programming.  If you are running a smaller business it is a very different deal.  We need to ensure that our customers lives are made easier and better by working with us.  They have to know that we care that we deliver quality and that we don’t take their business for granted.

South Downs Way

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Yesterday, a friend and I finally finished our walk along the South Downs Way, through 4 counties and two national parks.  It is 100 miles long and you climb (and descend) 13,600 ft.  You can see from the profile above it is all up and down… subjectively much more up than down, but in truth the descents are almost as tough.

We weren’t able to do the journey in a single hit due to work commitments, but we it took us longer than we ever thought to find the six days it took us.  It takes you through some fabulous countryside with some breath-taking views.  However, by-and-large, it is very undeveloped with only two pubs on the whole length of the walk. 

It is a very do ‘able challenge, with some people cycling it in a single day!  However, it is reasonably demanding and takes some planning.  There is a fair amount of logistics involved it getting to and back from the end of each stretch.  You clearly need to plot your route and stay on it.  If you put all this together it isn’t so different from any business project – planning, support, execution.  There were times when you feel good about it and other times when it would be easy to just stop.  Sometimes you feel inspired by the challenge and other times it seems more daunting.  In the end, all you can do is take the next step and worry about the rest later, and in the end, that does get you there.

My favourite stretch was the bit from Devil’s Dyke to Rodmell where you walk on the ridge of the hills and have views to the south out to sea and and across the Weald to the north and the next bit to Alfriston and our second pub was good too!  I have always loved the metaphor of the journey when talking about Change and taking one with someone else is a great opportunity to get to know them and bond.  Companies often spend huge amounts on team building days but something like this can be a great way to get to know your colleagues and build a real and lingering sense of teamwork.

Not quite the 9 o’clock News

Monday, October 14th, 2013

I’m interested in all aspects of communication but this story really takes some beating.  Leslie Grange, a signer for deaf viewers on the BBC news, appears to have decided that merely reporting the news was a little dull, so to brighten the days of her deaf viewers she started spicing up the stories.  Here are a few examples:-

“Questions started to be raised around the time of the Japanese earthquake when several viewers emailed us to complain about our reports of radioactive zombies sighted near the nuclear reactor. We dismissed them as some sort of organised hoax.”

“However, when there were similar numbers getting in touch to ask if Rebekah Brooks was really in trouble for raping a monkey, and why the BBC was claiming that, as a special summer treat, the Prime Minister had told the nation’s teenagers they didn’t have to pay for anything any more, we realised something was wrong.”

“I would like to apologise to everyone in the deaf community,” Grange told reporters today, “though when I had Cameron tell Obama “your statesmen-like profile leaves my willy plump” – well, frankly I don’t think that is so very far from the truth.”

We tend to accept that information coming from authoritative sources is correct and accurate, and it is only once it crosses a certain threshold that we question it, but perhaps we ought to ask more often “How do I know this is true?”  Within a company it is not unusual for things to be accepted as correct because everyone is repeating them, rather than actually going to the source data.  Group think is a dangerous basis for making decisions.