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In one of the final Sunday Times restaurant reviews he wrote before he died, ex-film director and bon vivant Michael Winner wrote: 'People often ask, "What's the worst meal you've ever had?" It used to take me a while to choose. Now I can answer in a second.'
We can all recognize them; companies where employees lack the enthusiasm, drive and, sometimes, even the competence to carry out their jobs properly. After all, as consumers we are often in the front line when it comes to experiencing the product or service an organization offers.
Companies of all shapes and sizes are looking for ways to save money. The danger is that the old saying "Penny wise pound foolish" might come back to bite them. Take safety training, for instance. Opting not to send employees on safety training courses might save a load of cash, but any accidents resulting from their ignorance might cost the company dearly.
Good leadership may be hard to define, but it is easy to recognize. Think no further than the late Steve Jobs, chief executive at Apple, or Sir Terry Leahy, former Tesco chief executive.
One passenger who recently arrived at London's Stansted airport complained in a letter to The Times that he had queued longer to pass through immigration control than he had spent in the air on his flight from Geneva.
Employees' moods when they clock in at the start of the day affect not only how they perceive customers and react to their moods, but also how much work employees do and how well they do it.
The late Joseph M. Juran, regarded by some as the father of modern quality-improvement systems, was never greatly impressed by Six Sigma He called it 'a basic version of quality improvement containing nothing new'.
Few falls from corporate grace have been as spectacular. One moment Gerald Ratner was leading the biggest jeweller in the world; the next he was sacked from the family business he had built up in only six years from around 100 shops to 2,500.
Dining out in an ordinary UK provincial town used to be a risky business. True, there were some excellent restaurants serving fine food at reasonable prices, but the 'average' restaurant experience was exactly that - average.
When Russian coal-miner Alexei Stakhanov reported to his bosses in 1935 that he had mined 102 tons of coal - 14 times his quota - in six hours, he was pulled out of his mining job and made a productivity consultant to the entire Soviet mining industry.
The car in front is a Toyota was a brilliant marketing slogan because it used word play to underline a fundamental truth about the company and its products. Quite simply, no other car manufacturer in the world could compete with Toyota on quality and value for money. Its lean-production methods were copied by manufacturers across the planet. For almost 50 years, the company achieved financial results unmatched in its industry.
Are you a fan of the cult TV science-fiction series Star Trek? Are your politics vaguely left of centre? If so, the website democraticstuff.com has just the thing for you - a lapel badge bearing the Vulcan salute and the slogan 'Trekkies for Obama'.
‘Some minds remain open long enough for the truth not only to enter but to pass on through by way of a ready exit without pausing anywhere along the route’, said Australian nurse Elizabeth Kenny, best known for devising methods to treat poliomyelitis by stimulating and re-educating the affected muscles rather than immobilizing patients with splints and casts.
‘Worsted to the world’ was a proud claim in the Yorkshire city of Bradford. During the Industrial Revolution the city’s wool industry developed world-beating ways of working, new machinery and new products. Its consequent expansion as an international trading centre in the mid-nineteenth century brought merchants from Germany and Ireland. They were followed, in the twentieth century, by immigrants from eastern Europe and the Commonwealth.
Modern UK MPs would certainly contest the idea that little has changed at Westminster since nineteenth-century constitutional specialist Walter Bagehot described Parliament as ‘a big meeting of more or less idle people’. But the spread of democracy throughout the economy as a whole means that more and more ‘meetings of more or less idle people’ are taking place in organizations across the world. A common response to a major issue – and many a minor one – is to ‘call a meeting’ about it. But when you consider all the time and money spent organizing, attending and following up on these meetings, it is a wonder more attention has not been paid to developing more effective meeting management.
Controversial US commentator and author Gore Vidal once wrote: ‘American writers want not to be good, but great; and so are neither.’ The quote ignores the fact that much of the best writing of the twentieth century was American, not English, but it does aptly describe what happened when the Crane brothers, from the hit US situation comedy Frasier, decided to pool their considerable talents to write a novel.
Six sigma, kaizen, benchmarking and quality function deployment were for another world and another era when Richard Hoover began building guitars and carved-top mandolins in 1972. His ambition was simple – to become a master at all aspects of guitar making.
In an age when computers, peripherals and software are widely considered to be out of date within a couple of years, and fit only for disposal after around five years, there is more than a hint of oxymoron about the expression 'green IT'...