Chris Croft's Personal Blog

October 25, 2010

The real reason for the cuts

Filed under: News and Politics — chriscroft @ 9:27 pm

I’m thinking, how is it that under Labour we were OK, maybe a bit overspending but nothing too bad, and now suddenly we’re in melt down if we don’t save 80 billion RIGHT NOW!

Is somebody exaggerating, just a little bit?

Then I thought maybe they were going to say that the situation was terrible and huge cuts were needed, and then announce on 20th October that the cuts weren’t as bad as we expected. But that didn’t happen, they WERE as bad as we expected. So I’m still baffled.

I think there is an element of doing it all now while it can still be blamed on the previous goverment, and then before the next election we can have some of the finance given back as tax cuts etc as a bribe to get us to vote the Tories in again. (The Lib Dems will have imploded by then).

But I also think there’s more than that.

– it’s not that Labour overspent massively
– it’s not that baling out the banks cost us THAT much
I think it’s that we, as a nation, are genuinely bankrupt. It’s not a sudden thing, it’s been gradually piling up, ever since the 70s when our manufacturing became uncompetitive against the Japanese, so all our industries (cars, electronics, steel, ships etc) disappeared. A few union conflicts made no difference to the big picture, we just weren’t good enough. We’re not as clever as the Japanese or as cheap as the Chinese. (With a few notable exceptions, but in general terms it’s true)

Does it matter if manufacturing has dwindled? Not if we have North Sea oil, and a deregulated City raking in the cash. But what happens when the oil starts to run out, which is now happening? And the shell game of the banks gets exposed, which it has been? We’re left with what? Incestuous service industries which all feed off each other and don’t generate any money or export anything. Oh dear!

Add to that the ageing population, armies of longer-living pensioners who don’t generate any money or pay any tax, and who in fact need more money to keep their pensions going and their increasingly exotic healthcare going, and you have more demand and less supply of money. Oh dear!

The fact is that we have been living beyond our means since 1970 and now we are having to correct for that, all in one big lump. This could be scary.

I hope I’m wrong!


How important is my wife?

Filed under: Assertiveness, Managing People, Time Management — chriscroft @ 9:11 pm

It’s 9.55 and I’m just settling down in my hotel room to watch The Inbetweeners which is on TV at 10, when my mobile phone rings. It’s my wife, who I haven’t seen for three days since I’ve been travelling and doing training courses around the country. I say to her “Can I phone you back at 10.30, The Inbetweeners is on in a minute?” and she’s upset, saying “Oh I see, The Inbetweeners is more important than me is it??”

Should I talk to her instead of watching TV?
Should I rush the phone call and try it get it finished by ten, without telling her about the TV?

The point is that while she is clearly more important than the latest episode of The Inbetweeners, she is not as urgent. It makes no difference (probably) to her whether we talk at 10 or 10.30, whereas The Inbetweeners cannot wait. They ARE urgent.
So if I can watch them now and talk with her afterwards for an unlimited time, I can have my cake and eat it. Time Management!

The problem is that she is confusing urgent for important and inferring that I think the TV is more important that she is. This is certainly not the case, and if I could only do one of the two I would talk to her (I think!!); if I only had a week to live I’d spend it with her; and all those other tests for importance like Which one do I value more, Which one would I miss if I could never do it again, etc.

I expect that some people reading this will still, even after reading all that, be thinking “I can’t believe he made his wife wait till after The Inbetweeners was finished”. Well, that means you still don’t get it! She is important but not urgent, they are not important but they are urgent. This distinction is simple, but not easy, and emotionally we get the two tangled up. But then that leads to doing things like rushing the important phone call to my wife, and still missing the first half of the inbetweeners, which is a double failure.

At work it’s the same – you have to get the urgent things out of the way, often with no flexibility of when, and yet still fit in the important things, maybe by scheduling them in, and making sure you spend plenty of time on them. Sometimes important things will get postponed because of something trivial but urgent, but these important things still need to be done at some point, with plenty of time allocated to them, because they are the things that really matter. Never start thinking that the urgent things are important.

October 20, 2010

Do you know the real costs of things?

Filed under: Managing People, News and Politics, Project Management, Time Management — chriscroft @ 6:06 pm

With all the emphasis on cutting costs at the moment, it’s interesting to think about much you really know, or don’t know, about your costs…

Do you know the cost of
– a complaint
– getting tenders for a job (writing the tender spec, seeing the people etc)
– managing a project
– producing and sending out a purchase order
– producing and sending out a contract
– producing your annual business plan
– computer downtime per person or per week
– moving office
– an unreliable photocopier
– a two hour meeting for eight people

Only when armed with this information can we make decisions on investment, cuts, automation, priorities, etc

And some of them might be more expensive, or less expensive, than you realised!


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