Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Grumpy people who work for charities

In the past month, I have given a number of things to charities such as Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army. Now, I know that the people I meet in the course of this are not the idealists who run the organizations, but most likely paid employees working for not very generous pay. Sadly, I have found that many of them are rather bad-tempered and rude. I get a feeling of resentment that they have to do this. When trying to donate the contents of a house, worth many thousands of dollars to the Salvation Army, no-one said "thank you," but only issued peremptory orders, about "if you are not there when we tell you to be, we will drive on and you will have to reschedule!"

Overall, the experience has been unpleasant enough that I would hesitate about doing it again. I think that the charities should stress good manners more to their employees.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Death and Taxes - failure in business and better decision-making

The inevitability of each is legend. However, so is failure in most business situations. Most new products fail. They need not in many cases. It is often clear to observers that the product is going to fail, but "the emperor has no clothes" syndrome takes over and no one says anything. Thus everyone watches in silence as the product rushes to inevitable failure and most effort goes into working out how to avoid blame. The same applies to acquisitions, new technologies. Yet as H.G. Wells said, "all progress is due to unreasonable men." People keep taking risks even if very foolish. Sadly, they do not use the simple tools which can reduce risk.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why are Brands often less well understood today than twenty years ago?

In the search for business opportunity we have allowed the essence of what a brand is to become more complex. So many people claim expertise in understanding brands. Designers, copywriters, even accounting firms, now claim expertise. This is knowledge from a narrow perspective. The old idea from Procter & Gamble in 1929 that a Brand Manager, is the General Manager of a brand has long gone. A brand is often seen as being made up of smoke and mirrors, with graphics being more important than product or price. As a result, most companies do not do the best things to optimize the financial value of the brand.