Chris Croft's Personal Blog

January 19, 2013

Short talks I can do

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , — chriscroft @ 5:00 pm

Add a bit extra to your conference, or evening event!

If you’re looking for an hour, or just 45 minutes, or 2 hours, for groups between 2o and 500 people, then here are some ideas for interesting talks, that I can do for you

  • Negotiating
  • Time Management – personal efficiency
  • Personal Goals
  • Difficult People
  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Selling
  • Negotiating
  • Customer Service
  • What should I be doing as a manager?
  • Success
  • Happiness
  • The Recruitment Process – top tips
  • Appraisals – top tips
  • Team Roles – discover yours
  • Competitive team activity – done in groups and then analysed afterwards
  • Managing your boss
  • Motivation
  • Delegation
  • Keys to a successful small business

contact me on or via

see me here

what people say about me:



January 16, 2013

Upgrading a Diploma to an MBA

Filed under: Accredited Courses and Training, Careers — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 5:45 pm

I often get asked “Can I upgrade my level 7 Diploma to an MBA at some future point? “

MBAs are level 8.
(By the way, there is no level 6!)

Only Universities can award MBAs.
A part time MBA usually consists of three years, the first year being effectively a CMS, and the first two years being a DMS.
Some Universities will let a person with a DMS miss out the first two years of the MBA and join for the final year. Add one year to your DMS and you get an MBA. This is sensible since the DMS is exactly the same syllabus as the first two years of an MBA.

But many universities won’t accept anybody else’s year 1 or 2, saying you have to start again because their syllabus is different. Some also claim that all three of their MBA years are at level 8. But if you look at the subjects covered you will see that it looks very similar to your DMS!

But that is their loss, since we have enough friendly Universities to be able to provide you with a route to gaining an MBA without repeating everything.

Final bits of confusion…
The CMI (Chartered Management Institute) are sometimes confused with CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing), and the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and the ILM can be confused with IPM (Institute of Personnel Management) – these are professional HR organisations, HR being one of the areas you will study on your DMS.

CATS points: this stands for Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme, and the idea is that qualifications give you points which count towards exemptions when you start another qualification. We had hoped that these would allow our students to join any MBA programme half way through, but the reality is that many MBA courses don’t recognise CATS points, FE College courses don’t count towards CATS, the points have to be at the same level (and MBAs may or may not be at level 8, see above) and all applications are subject to interviews anyway – basically the whole thing is a mess and CATS points are virtually irrelevant.

The only thing that matters is “Can we get you onto the final year of an MBA?” and the answer is yes we can.


The following is what we have done so far, but it’s always changing, and if anyone knows of new MBA routes then please let me know, or if any of the ones listed have now closed I’d like to keep this blog up to date. Thanks for any help!

Ideally you can use your DMS to exempt yourself from the first 2 years of a part time MBA, and just do the final year.

This would involve a year of part time study, mostly at distance, and probably a cost of about £5,000 (depends on the university) which you will probably have to pay yourself.

But an MBA is a good thing to have on your CV, and all the evidence is that the investment pays back.

An MBA would benefit both you and the organisation you work for, since it will give you a more strategic view.

Longer term I would like to get accredited to be able to teach an MBA year, but at the moment we have to live with transferring people to a university near them – still not bad.

Of course, universities won’t guarantee you a place on their course, you’ll still have to apply with an application form, and maybe be interviewed. But of course they are quite interested in your 5k, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get a place…

Back in 2006 we finally got Sunderland, a proper UK university, to agree that our DMS counts as the first two years of an MBA, so you jsut have to do the final year of their MBA to get the ultimate management qualification. You can do it in your spare time while doing a normal job, it takes a year, it’s distance learning so it doesn’t matter where you live, and it costed £3,500. Probably gone up since, but still great value.

More info on the Sunderland Uni top up MBA

We also have our first person enrolled at London Met (well done Roni!!)
The course admin is Nicholas Scott and leader, his boss Kate Cooper. or
The fees are about £4500 and with DMS you get straight onto stage two, so can be completed in one year.

Northampton Uni also has a top up MBA which costs about £3500
also this;jsessionid=62303d59d832$AD$F8$D?keyword=mba&type=Course&action=showdetails&offset=10&2waynocompress=1&id=46273

We have also had one of our Diploma students doing an MBA top up at London South Bank University.

There’s a list of participating Universities here on the Edexcel (BTEC) site

And the most recent addition is this:

Big thanks to Peter Rose who just got in touch with me about his MBA
He did the level 7 Diploma with me and then upgraded to an MBA with one year at the University of Wales / UWIC / Cardiff Metropolitan
Distance Learning do you can it from wherever you live
No exams
£2500 – the cheapest MBA you’ll ever yet, I reckon!

I had a quick google and found this
The price is a little higher, I’m not sure if it’s the distance learning option, it looks like “on campus”, and it’s for the whole course rather than just the dissertation part
but importantly it shows (item 6) that the BTEC level 7 DMS does indeed give you entry to the last bit of the course

It says:
“If you have a suitable Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management which has been approved by the school, you can apply for direct entry to the dissertation phase of the MBA either on-campus or via our distance learning programme”.   Sounds good!


That’s everything I know – I hope it helps anyone out there who wants to advance themselves.



My Calendar options explained

Filed under: Books and Culture, Happiness — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 5:19 pm

I’m not doing free calendars this year (to send out 3000 of them used to cost me £6,000!)
but I have made one which you can order from lulu (see below), and it’s really nice I think

I’ve also made a perpetual calendar, which, instead of one tip per week it has one tip per day, so the days can be used year after year. In fact, there is a Happiness version and a Success version. They each have 400 pages and are really nice, chunky books with an amazing 366 practical ideas in each one.

You can see them all here:

2013 weekly tip calendar:

Happiness perpetual:
Success perpetual:

The prices aren’t pretty reasonable (I have reduced my profit margin right down), the postage is a bit annoying on lulu, but if you’re getting several it’s not too bad



January 14, 2013

There are no alternatives to Gantt charts

Filed under: Project Management — Tags: , , , , — chriscroft @ 10:02 am

There are no alternatives to Gantt charts – that’s why they are still around, everywhere, after 100 years. Resistance is futile.

I was sent this by a friend of mine just now…

Interesting article, but he’s wrong of course.

His first alternative to a Gantt chart is to use a spreadsheet to produce it. Well, I think that’s still a Gantt chart?! I would certainly recommend Excel as a good way to make a quick Gantt chart, and you CAN show dependencies and float without it getting too messy.

His second alternative is to use a network diagram, which is what you should use anyway, BEFORE you make it into a Gantt chart. It’s the step before, it’s not an alternative. In fact it’s impossible to do a proper Gantt chart without a network diagram first.

His third alternative is to use a list instead and his fourth alternative is to use a summary diagram (e.g. “percentage complete”), and for both of these he recommends using a Gantt chart first and then simplifying it for other people to see. So he still needs a Gantt chart, it’s not really an alternative at all. (and of course if he’s planning to use cost reports without knowing the progress from his Gantt chart then he’ll fall into the trap of thinking he’s under budget when really he’s behind). And these so-called alternatives do the job of communication less well than the original Gantt chart.

So basically all of those alternatives are not as good as the original. Gantts rule and that’s that.

There, that’s told him!


CC – The Gantt Chart Guy

January 9, 2013

My apps – so far

Filed under: Gadgets — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 10:05 pm

The management cards

– see them all, for free!

iPhone and Android

Search for “management cards” (use inverted commas to find it)

see a video of it working, if you really want to:

Just About To

Bails you out of trouble at the last minute – help with all sorts of things like giving a talk, being interviewed etc

Free on both android and iPhone

Android market / Google play

Search for “just about to” (use inverted commas to find it)

iTunes appstore

Search for: just about to

View it on your PC here:

Jobs To Do

The ultimate jobs to do list on your phone / iPad

Apple only I’m afraid

Free – at the moment!

Video of how to use it:

View it on your PC:

Test Me

Learn by answering fun quiz questions on Project Management (free) , Negotiating (free),

Selling / Influencing, Time Management, Leadership, Presentations (all: £1.50)

View it here on iTunes

View it on Android (Google Play) here


Croft Tips

Random short tips on six subjects, android and apple:

free version: just 300 tips, 4 subjects

paid version (only 69p!) – much more content (2000 tips!) and all six subjects

Coming soon:

  • Daily happiness and success action plans,
  • 8 subjects in 10 daily lessons each

onwards and appwards!


January 7, 2013

What to do if your project is going pear-shaped

Filed under: Lists, Project Management — Tags: , , , , — chriscroft @ 2:38 pm

A slightly experimental and unfinished list, but one which I hope you will still find useful (and may want to add to!)

What to do if your project is going pear-shaped:

Customer options
(one or more of the following)

wait for them to finish
agree new timescales
find someone else (maybe start looking secretly)
ditch the project so we no longer need it
sue them
get more visibility of what they’re doing
take more control
take it over and finish it yourself
negotiate to reduce the price
do some work ourselves to help them finish it
give them more money to help them finish it faster
agree to reduced quality

Supplier options

slip the project (quality remains OK but delivery is late)
crash the project (throw resources at it – time is OK but cost goes up)
reduce quality in order to achieve time and cost promises
decide whether to tell the customer what you are doing – if in doubt, tell them!
stop and end it (and take the flak)
deliver what you have & let the customer finish it
buy in an answer from someone else / subcontract
buy in a team who can help you do it
believe in what you have (add more resources and hope to solve)
renegotiate contracts – price / cost / quality
restart from scratch
do the minimum to fulfill the contract (bit of a last resort!)

what did I miss?


January 5, 2013

Megaphone Selling

Judging by The Apprentice, Alan Sugar’s idea of a “great sales person” seems to be someone pushy and loud, who has no shame when it comes to hassling passers by.

And I want to say “NO!”

The two most important qualities of a sales person are

a) being liked


b) being a good listener

and often the Apprentice “sales people” have neither.

Walking around the streets heckling people with a megaphone isn’t selling. Barging in to a customer’s office and ramming your proposition down their throat isn’t selling. Selling is getting to know your customers, understanding them, and based on a knowledge of their needs, giving them what they want. Or at least showing them how what you are offering can help them. Louder isn’t going to be better, and you can’t win arguments by being louder – listening is the only way to turn someone around.

And of course my two sales qualities are related, because being a good listener will make you more likely to be liked. The objective is to be liked by as many people as possible, because every customer who doesn’t like you is almost certainly a lost sale.


And by the way, on The Apprentice they don’t do their brainstorming correctly either – as soon as the first idea comes in they judge it, often negatively, so the creative people soon give up. Ideally they would collect as many ideas as possible, sparking off each other, recording everything good or bad, and then, after that, select the best one. And the manager should keep out of it rather than pushing their own pet idea.

There we are, that’s the end of my rant, I feel better now!

Onwards and upwards


PS Have a look at 45 minutes of good stuff from David Allen, the time management guru, for free on youtube –

January 2, 2013

Board Games I love

Filed under: Gadgets, Lists — Tags: , — chriscroft @ 3:45 pm

Some are out of print now but you might find them on ebay


Hare & Tortoise – funny race game with no dice

Cul De Sac – two player maze creation game

Diplomacy – the ultimate game of deals and deceit – takes 2 days!!

Adel Verpflichtet – hilarious auction thieving bluff game

Scotland Yard – one person tries to escape and all the others try to find him

Laska – great improved version of draughts / checkers

Havannah – two player hexagonal linking game

G0 – the greatest game of all, and simply beautiful

DaVinci Code game – guess which numbers the other people have – nice deduction game

Six Day Race (aka 6-tage rennen) – Cycling race game that is clever and simple, with slipstreaming and no dice

Pit – hilarious and loud card game

Press Ups (1974) – first to press down their coloured pegs wins – abstract game

Foxy (1977)  – slide a tube over the board trying to get rid of your pieces as the fall into the empty holes

Labyrinth – tile sliding game

Labyrinth card game – different to the above and also brilliant



and sociable puzzles I love are…………………………

Rush  Hour / Safari rush hour

Hot spot

Lunar Lockout

Chocolate Fix

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