Carillion: just an isolated symptom or the first case of corporate Ebola?

Carillion – the politicians’ view

“Carillion had a ‘rotten corporate culture’” screamed the headline above the article in the business section of BBC’s news website on Wednesday, May 16th, see

The article remarks, “In a damning 100-page report, the Work and Pensions and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committees said:

The Big Four accountancy firms were a “cosy club incapable of providing the degree of independent challenge needed”

Carillion’s collapse had exposed “systemic flaws” in corporate Britain and showed regulators were “toothless”

And warned “Carillion could happen again, and soon”

Furthermore, the two committees called Carillion’s rise and fall “a story of recklessness, hubris and greed“.

Undoubtedly, these are strong words.  Despite emanating from two bodies representing a larger group of people, MPs, in whom the public have lost trust and respect, they should not be disregarded as an example of the pot calling the kettle black, of people throwing stones in glass houses.  They beg a broader question being posed.

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I’m as mad as hell

A credible role model?

Brian Cranston won this year’s Best Actor Olivier Award for his role of Howard Beale in Network.  In recognition, I thought his infamous mantra, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” should fire us up not to accept poor customer service.  Otherwise, you have to bite your tongue and meekly walk away.

Rant and rave

Not long after his appointment as CEO of Barclays Bank, the “Montreal Marauder” to give Matthew Barrett his sobriquet, remarked in an interview with the Independent newspaper in August 2001, “The consumer, whatever they are buying, is long suffering. A service revolution is a little overdue. I find the legendary politeness of the English to be not in their self-interest. I think they should be ranting and raving at the service they get, wherever they are getting it, banks included. The consumer cuts business too much slack in this country.”

Why did Matt mention only the English? Why didn’t he include the other home nations?  From Scotland, if speaking today, he could have chosen the Simpsons characterisation of a Scot in the form of Orkney-born “Groundskeeper Willie”.

Alternatively, that of Robert Carlyle’s foul-mouthed, violent Begbie in Trainspotting.  I’ll leave you to search Google for comparable examples from Wales and Northern Ireland.

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The SME leaders’ dilemma: buying personal development

I know I need development but will I make a good buying decision?

Were you working for someone somewhere and frustrated at how you saw the business being run?  Did you think you could do better and so struck out on your own? You recognise you could be a better leader but are concerned about making a poor buying decision for your development.

Your business is doing OK.  It employs a dozen or more people incurring a monthly salary bill of the order of some tens of thousands of pounds.  Yet, you have a lingering sense of frustration that your people are not doing what you need them to do.

Is the boot now on the other foot with some of your people feeling like you did that you could do better.  The likelihood is that like you were they are probably your better performers and could more easily find a job elsewhere.  Lose them and your business will suffer a marked dent in its performance.  It is not that they are irreplaceable (no one is; you can lose someone to an accident or a lottery win), but they are effective and efficient workers.  What can you do differently as their leader to improve the odds that they will stay?

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In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act

I always thought this quote was by George Orwell, engraved somewhere on the walls of Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth.  But apparently not; many of the on-line quotation sites cite it as unattributed.  Whatever is the truth about the quotation concerning truth, I like it!

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Danger, someone’s said, “I love my work!”

David Physick Guest Author

How to be Good at Work

I have had the privilege of knowing Professor Roger Steare for a number of years; he describes himself as The Corporate Philosopher.  His professorship is at CASS Business School.  I admire his work about corporate ethics and values.  It is more important today than when it was started.

He is producing a “live-book” called “How to be Good at Work”.  Roger wrote the original set of chapters.  Subsequently, through a “commons approach”, other people have contributed additional articles and commentary.  As a result of some general remarks I shared with Roger, he asked me to produce a more specific article , which I did.  While he liked the content, my style was too different to his and other contributors for him to accept it.  I didn’t have the time or, admittedly, the inclination to change it.  However, in view of Roger’s positive feedback about the content of my commentary, I thought I would use this Blog to push it out into the public domain.  The topic of love seems fitting for the week before Christmas.

Hopefully, having read my piece, it will prompt you to look at “How to be Good at Work”, contact Roger and expand the conversation he has started.

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