Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Guide to Layoff Survival

“How do you survive an unexpected job cut and get back on your feet to find employment?” guide to layoff survival. From the practical to the philosophical, expert tips on how to survive the fall, and get back in the game

The Axe is Falling ... Amanda did not see it coming. Her most recent performance review was strong, plus she had a great rapport with her manager, so when the year-end layoff rumors began circulating around the office, she thought she had immunity. She should have known better. She, along with the thousands who were axed, never received an invite to the Christmas party and got the worst gift of all, a severance package.

Sadly, Amanda isn't alone. In the US as of November 2007, at least 1,408,852 people have lost their jobs due to mass layoffs, a 6% increase from 2006, according to the Department of Labour’s Bureau of Labour Statistics. And that figure only reflects those who claimed unemployment insurance from employers who cut 50 or more employees at a time.

The unemployment rate went from 4.7 to 5% in the space of a month (from November to December 2007), the largest increase since April 1995.’s own employment index, which tracks online recruitment across career sites and job boards in real-time, also posted its first-ever decline in online job ads in November 2007.

While companies downsize for a plethora of business reasons -- to reduce redundancy after a merger or acquisition, to revamp corporate strategy, or to improve the bottom-line -- much of the current job shortage has direct links to the subprime mortgage collapse still reverberating across the country in 2008. Just a few days ago, Citigroup reported record losses ($9.83 billion in the fourth quarter) due to bad mortgage-related investments and loans and will reportedly be slashing 4,700 jobs. With housing prices nosediving and credit becoming ever more difficult to obtain, jobs in manufacturing and construction have been hardest hit, totaling 47% of mass layoffs last year. White-collar jobs are hardly any more secure. Companies that service the housing industry (insurance, mortgage, real estate brokers and banks) were quick to downsize; jobs from media and technology to the usually strong biotechnology/pharmaceuticals also followed suit as a reaction to weak performance in a slowing economy.

You may not be at risk of being laid off but there is definitely anxiety over job security in the workplace. If you follow the news at all, it certainly feels as if everyone and everywhere is downsizing. So how can you avoid being the sacrificial lamb for your company?

According to University of Colorado Denver management professor, Dr. Wayne F. Cascio’s research on the culture of downsizing ... there isn’t much individuals can do. Downsizing has simply become the de-facto quick fix to address business woes in the US, so being laid off is an unavoidable aspect of corporate life. "A young adult should expect to be laid off three to four times before he turns 50," he advises.

While there may be optimism in the job market, being laid off can wreak havoc on your psyche, which could play a bigger role in your ability to rebound than you think. No matter how you got the news -- you were denied access to your office via a deactivated security pass or gently let down by your manager -- you’ve lost your livelihood and in many cases, your sense of self. Like a relationship gone bad, losing your job can be incredibly painful and life-changing. But it doesn’t have be tragic.

Pulling Yourself Together

Allow yourself to mourn: When you lose your job due to layoffs, you’ll feel as if you’ve been dumped by your employer. You’ll feel betrayed, hurt, dejected and angry, which are common emotions associated with grief. "Mourn the loss of your job and get some emotional distance so you can regain the strength to find a better one"

Be resilient: "You’re bound to encounter rejection in your job search, so you need to be resilient," offers Dr. Andrew Shatté, co-author of The Resilience Factor. He believes you can train yourself to be mentally stronger by knowing your own thinking patterns and counteracting against your natural inclinations. You can uncover your innate resilience factor online (click on"How resilient are you?").

Talk it out: Women tend to refocus and start their job search faster than men, because they’re more comfortable talking about their needs and anxieties to family and friends, and doing so helps them move beyond the shock and anger to start thinking about 'What’s next?'" It’s not that men have nothing to say -- they just need to find the appropriate support group to open up to. When Test-Drive Your Dream Job author Kurth lost his dotcom job in 2001, he and a few other job seekers would meet every week to share job search experiences over coffee and bagels (a.k.a. "Unemployed Bagels"). He recalls how all the members in the group eventually managed to bounce back and find jobs they love.

Set a budget: You’ll need to put together a budget to reflect your newly unemployed status.

Getting Back in The Game

Set goals: Brainstorm on what to do next with your family and friends, get your ideas down on paper -- stay organized and focused. Make a list of all the things you loved, hated, and would like to change about your life and ex-job. From here, you can begin brainstorming about your short and long-term goals. What other careers have always intrigued you? Are you an entrepreneur at heart? Would switching fields require additional training? If so, where, and how much would it cost? Above all, share your plans, however preliminary, with your support group so your friends can keep you on your toes.

Network, network, network: Be upbeat and positive even if you're not feeling that great about yourself. Make a point of getting out of the house and interacting with people. The more people you meet, the better. Create your own network in addition to attending professional networking events. A good way to ensure you get out there and do meaningful work is to volunteer your time for a charitable cause, according to Challenger. You never know who you will meet and what connections they may bring.

Try to identify people whose work appeal to you in some way and make a point of meeting them. Offer to take them out to coffee or even lunch. You'd be surprised how helpful people can be.

And by all means, get up to speed with all the major social networking sites like LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace and Facebook. Get reacquainted with your acquaintances.

Through all your networking efforts, stay organized in order to make best use of your contacts.

Limit your computer use: You’re wasting your time if you devote all your time responding to online job ads. Spend your day meeting and interviewing with people, not in front of your computer.

Take breaks: Whether it's going out for dinner once a week (within your means, of course), going for a run every other day, or both, taking breaks from your job search is essential to your mind-body wellness, which will help you stay energetic and motivated.

There is no denying being downsized is difficult, and bouncing back, harder still. But it is not impossible. "[Being laid off] can be a tragedy or an opportunity," ... "Turn it into an opportunity of a lifetime. "

Source: Fast Company

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Be the change you want

“Be the change you want to see in the world ...”

Mahatma Ghandi 1869-1948 Indian Philosopher,

This great quote got me thinking about the difference executives can make in their world of work:
Executives must design structures, create reporting relationships, and develop evaluation systems that make people accountable. Executives who set broad, stretching aspirations that are meaningful to their employees have a better chance of achieving the outcome they want than do executives who resort to conventional, dominant, or detailed top-down leadership.

And the Best way to promote high-performance behaviour in organizations is to emphasize openness and trust among employees.

Ten Tips to making a difference

1. All significant change throughout history has occurred as a result of the courage and commitment of individuals. Whether you do it alone, or with the help of others you're still a change maker.

2. Know that you have unique purpose and potential. It's not so much something to create as to be discovered. And it's up to you to discover it. Believe all that you can and will make a difference.

3. Recognize that everything you do, every step you take, every sentence you write, every word you speak-or DON'T speak--counts. Nothing is trivial. Everything matters.

4. To be the change you want to see, you don't have to be loud. You don't have to be eloquent. You don't have to be elected. You don't even have to be particularly smart or well educated. You do, however, have to be committed.

5. Be accountable, take personal responsibility. Never think "it's not my job". It's a cop-out to say, "What can I do, I'm only one person." You don't need everyone's cooperation or anyone's permission to make changes. "If it's to be, it's up to me."

6. Don't get caught up in the how of things. If you're clear on what you want to change and why you want to change it, the how will come. Many significant things have been left undone because someone let the problem solving interfere with the decision-making.

7. Don't wait for things to be right in order to begin. Change is messy. "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

8. The genesis for change is awareness. We cannot change what we don't acknowledge. Most of the time, we aren't aware of what's wrong or what's not working. We don't see what could be. By becoming more aware, we begin the process of change.

9. Take to heart these words from Albert Einstein -- arguably one of the smartest change masters who ever lived: "All meaningful and lasting change starts first in your imagination and then works its way out. Imagination is more important than knowledge."

10. In order for things to change, YOU have to change first. We can't change others; we can only change ourselves. However, when WE change, it changes everything. And in doing so, we truly can be the change we want to see.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Global IT Spending Slowing Down

“Slowing U.S. economy will affect the rest of the world’s spending on IT products and services in 2008.”

IT might finally start feeling a sting from the slowing U.S. economy. In a new report released Feb. 11, Forrester Research found that the sluggish U.S. economy will start affecting the amount of money IT departments will be spending on products and services in the next 12 months.

While the worldwide IT market will total $1.7 trillion in 2008, Forrester found that global purchases of IT products and services will grow 6 percent during the year. Originally, Forrester predicted growth of 9 percent. Spending in the United States will hit 2.8 percent, down from the original forecast of 4.6 percent. To date, IT has not felt the crunch of a weak U.S. economy.

In 2007, Forrester found that global IT spending grew 12 percent worldwide and 6.2 percent in the U.S.

Andrew Bartels, an analyst with Forrester, said the firm revised its number after retailers, such as Wal-Mart, reported less consumer spending in the fourth quarter holiday season and after reviewing recent reports that the U.S. economy lost jobs in January. These and other factors, such as falling real estate prices and higher prices for gasoline, mean less consumer spending, which will eventually affect business spending.
"U.S. consumer spending has been slowing down and consumer spending represents about two-thirds of the U.S. economy and about one-fourth of the world's economy,"

With less consumer spending to spur the economy, along with the tightening of the credit market following the problems in the mortgage market, enterprises and smaller businesses will likely spend less on IT goods, services and consulting in the next 12 months. Bartels said most companies will cut down on big-ticket hardware spending—like PCs, servers and storage—but continue to invest in software.

Software spending is not as discretionary

"Companies do not want to cut back on spending on software for security, which they see a prudent investment. Also, software spending is seen a way to be more efficient and a way to save costs in the long run. With virtualization software, you're cutting down on the amount of servers a business needs to buy."

Overall, hardware spending will increase about 4 percent in 2008 compared to 12 percent in 2007, and software spending will hit about 8 percent compared to 11 percent last year.

Although Forrester revised its figures downward, Bartels noted that IT spending will continue to grow in 2008. However, he said that vendors could not expect the same type of profit returns they experienced in the last year. For example, Cisco Systems reported Feb. 7 that its growth for its third fiscal quarter would be 10 percent, but that was less than what Wall Street had been expecting. In the coming few weeks, Bartels said quarterly reports from Hewlett-Packard and Dell should give industry watches a better view of the economy. While HP has a large overseas business that might help its quarterly report, Dell sells most of its products in North America and its report could give a clearer indication of the strength of the U.S. economy.

Source: Forrester Research, e-Week

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Outsourcing Pendulum shift

Outsourcing can either be a way for a company to gain strategic altitude and rise to greater heights (or) unloading dollars that don't pay off ...”

Most business processes rely heavily on technology. Companies identified the capital, time and space-savings associated with reductions in staff, training, equipment and work environments as advantages of outsourcing IT. Gartner announced in 2005 that IT teams will shrink dramatically during the next five years as employers adopt competitively priced external suppliers for IT services ... And, employees lucky enough to stay in a job will find themselves dealing less with technology and assuming more of a business role by managing suppliers.Gartner's predicted IT staff numbers will fall 15 per cent by 2010 as companies realize the potential efficiencies of bringing in external suppliers. IT departments will find themselves under pressure from suppliers offering prices and levels of professionalism that are difficult to match.
"As IT skills become a more important component of business professionalism, in-house IS staff while be displaced,"

Gartner said in a statement. "Companies must start the process of evaluating their long-term options, decide whether - and how - to compete against external suppliers or re-structure to manage those suppliers" The changing nature of IT departments’ role means that by 2010 six out of 10 people affiliated with IS organizations will take-on business facing roles around information, process and relationships as they manage suppliers. Departments who do not outsource will increasingly have outsourcing forced on them, according to Gartner.

Organizations who do not adopt what Gartner calls "process-based delivery models" will see their service portfolios outsourced at a rate of 25 per cent each year.

The outlook for jobs in the European technology sector is good but the spectre of outsourcing looms ominously, according to the IT Confidence Study, conducted by Eurocom Worldwide and Simpson Financial & Technology PR (Simpson FTPR) in 2007, the report surveyed 217 senior executives across Europe about their views on the sector.

63 per cent of respondents expected the number of people working in the tech sector to increase over the next 12 months, compared to 58 per cent last year. Meanwhile, four per cent expect job losses during the year, as opposed to eight per cent last year. "The outlook for jobs is reflected in the fact that skills shortage is now listed as the biggest threat to the tech sector," commented Ronnie Simpson of Simpson FTPR.

Despite the need for more skills, Simpson warned that certain jobs in the industry are at risk of being outsourced to countries such as China or India. "The study finds that not only are traditional manufacturing jobs at risk, but increasingly service jobs are shifting to low-cost centres as well," he said.

These fears were shared by 81 per cent of the study's respondents who believe their country is losing tech manufacturing jobs to low-cost centres, with 58 per cent believing that service jobs are moving as well.

The jobs most in demand in the industry are software engineers followed by international sales, project management and local sales people. The report found that the divisions within the tech sector that are expected to see most growth over the next 12 months included IT security and customer relationship management.

As well as different types of IT outsourcing, key questions faced by IT directors when outsourcing IT services, include whether to offshore, nearshore, or onshore. Outsourcing IT does, however, present different challenges. Learning how to manage relationships with outsourcers, engaging in industrial relations disputes with outsourced workers and designing service level agreements are a few.

Significant Outsourcing activities

February 2008: Govt outsourcing IT to overcome skills shortage >>
January 2008: Shell to outsource hundreds of UK IT jobs >>
January 2008: UK firms continue to pick India for outsourcing >>
January 2008: AA brings datacentre back in-house to cut costs >>
January 2008: LogicaCMG creates new outsourcing division >>

November 2007: Deutsche Bank outsources to HCL Technologies >>
August 2007: Lloyds TSB to outsource 210 IT roles to India >>
July 2007: British American Tobacco outsources network security >>
May 2007: Tesco signs £18m IT contract extension >>
May 2007: Allianz signs outsourcing deal with Fujitsu >>
May 2007: Hewden updates network and services with renewed BT deal >>
May 2007: Dorset Council signs services deal for contact centre >>
April 2007: Vodafone consolidates to reduce spend on app development >>
April 2007: PWC reveals faults in Swansea Council's 83m outsourcing >>
April 2007: Indian outsourcers make inroads into continental firms >>
March 2007: Prudential looks to axe 600 jobs from UK in-house IT >>
February 2007: Lloyds TSB to cut 245 back-office jobs >>
February 2007: Credit Suisse considers massive switch to offshore >>
January 2007: NCR offshores ATM production >>

Source: The Register, Gartner, Simpson FTPR, Eurocom Worldwide

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Bankers Everywhere - Change On Bonuses, Or You're Out!

“It's no longer about 'you', it's now all about 'us'”

Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain is changing his firm's bonus philosophy, tying bonus payouts more closely to the performance of Merrill as a whole, rather than individual employee results. Thain's intentions are good - fostering a more consultative and cooperative culture at Merrill, hopefully avoiding a repeat of the situation last year, where 100 or so fixed income traders wreaked havoc on the firm's profits and screwed up what promised to be a very good year for the firm. But Merrill's boss might have difficulty persuading his employees (and perhaps as importantly potential new hires) that they should rely on others when it comes to their year-end bonus pay-outs.

According to Monday's "Here In The City" quick reader poll ...
Many bankers are happy to have their bonus allocated on the basis of the performance of their desk, or immediate team, the majority still expect to eat what they kill and be paid out based on their own performance. Very few bankers are content to be rewarded first on the basis of how well their firm does as a whole.

Poll results:

50.7% of respondents said that they expected to be rewarded on the basis of their own performance

48.2% said that they were happy to be rewarded on the basis of their desk, or team, performance

1.1% said that they were content to be rewarded on the basis that they get paid first on how well their firm as a whole does.

Will this information surprise, or concern, Thain? No, determined to create a cohesive team-like atmosphere at Merrill, he won't want those who put themselves first at his firm anyway. And in this approach Thain, may well be leading what could turn out to be a sea-change for the industry - it's no longer about 'you', it's now all about 'us'.

Source: Here Is The City

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Best Place To Work In London Is ...

“Nomura International came top in 2008 poll, Best Place To Work In London 2008”

Yugo Ishida, President & CEO of Nomura International, said ...

'I'm delighted the people who work at Nomura have voted it the best place to work in London. This recognises our growing success in forging links between Europe, Asia and other emerging countries, and is a tribute to the talent and commitment of our people who have enabled that success. Together we have built an innovative and client-focused business that provides an opportunity for everyone to advance as far as their strengths and skills will take them'.

Top 30:

1. Nomura International
2. Morley Fund Management
3. UBS Investment Bank
4. State Street
5. Credit Suisse
6. Rabo International
7. GAM
8. Bank of America
9. Merrill Lynch
10. Daiwa Securities SMBC Europe
11. Dresdner Kleinwort
12. Citi
13. Barclays Capital
14. Goldman Sachs
15. Man Group
16. Macquarie
17. PIMCO Europe
18. Royal Bank of Scotland
19. Jefferies & Co
20. BlackRock
21. Schroders
22. Lehman Brothers
23. Bear Stearns
24. Fortis
25. Morgan Stanley
26. Clifford Chance
27. 3i
28. Northern Trust
29. JPMorgan
30. Threadneedle Asset Management

Source: Here In The City | Survey

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Nemorelaxer Airport Luxury

“Coming Soon To An Aiport Near You ... the latest in airport luxury”

The Nemorelaxer will be cropping up in European passenger lounges, a sound-proofed pod recliner chair, sound-isolating materials and a cocoon for privacy. The Nemorelaxer also has a touchscreen monitor for watching movies and a fold-away worktable with internet connection. The idea is from a new company 'Nemorerelax' is designed to create an ‘oasis of calm’ in busy airport surroundings and the pods will be arranged in groups in a special area, fronted by a reception desk and helpful staff. They’ll loan you a notebook if you don’t have one and even look after your luggage while you snooze, slave or surf the Net. Time slots will be sold by the half hour and the fact that they haven’t told us what it will cost gives you some indication of the type of customer they are targeting

Source: Gizmondo, Luxist

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

High Oil prices is a tax on consumers

“Oil is trading at $100 per barrel, forecasted to hit $150”

Back in 1992 when I worked in the oil industry $25 per barrel was high, some 15 years later and a barrel is trading at $100. As Oil prices continue to set new records and generate windfall revenues for oil-exporting nations. What are the affect that are causing the world to guzzle more oil than it can find!. Sean Brodrick on The Market Oracle reveals some interesting reasons why:

* America is the world's largest consumer of oil, guzzling more than 7.5 billion barrels per year. We import more than half the oil we use, and that amount is rising.

* More than 81% of the world's discovered and useable oil reserves come from just 10 countries. And 30% of the world's oil is in three of those countries — Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

* The world consumes an astonishing 173 billion barrels of oil every 2.4 years. At the same time, we find enough new oil to supply just 3% of that.

So, just to keep prices stable over the next decade, we're going to have to find a couple more fields the size of Ghawar — the biggest oil field in Saudi Arabia ... and the world

According to the International Energy Agency, global oil demand will average 87.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2008, up from 85.7 million bpd in 2007. At 87.8 million bpd, we'll use 1,016 barrels per second — a sonic boom of energy use.

Three Forces That Will Squeeze Oil Prices Even Higher

Terrorist attack, a war in the Persian Gulf, or a natural disaster would cause oil prices to rise.

But there are other fundamental forces that will drive the price of oil higher relentlessly, even without a headline-grabbing catastrophe. Let's look at three of them ...

Force #1: A Thirsty World. Despite economic storm clouds on the horizon in the U.S., the global economy is growing at about 4.5% per year. From Brazil to Singapore, business is booming and incomes are rising.

The world's population is trading bicycles for cars, and global oil demand can't keep up. With 14,000 more cars on the road each day, China's oil demand alone is expected to rise at least 5% this year, according to the IEA.

As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects in its Medium Term Oil Market Report that global oil demand will grow 2.2% a year, on average. By 2012, demand should reach 95.8 million barrels per day (bpd) vs. 85.7 million bpd this year.

At the same time, spare capacity — almost all of which is in Saudi Arabia — is going to vanish like a mirage in the desert.

Even worse, the IEA expects supply increases from non-OPEC oil producers and biofuel producers to start dwindling around 2009.

All that boils down to an ugly picture from the IEA: The world's oil demand growth is going to start outpacing supply growth by 2010!

Force #2: Slipping on the Oil Field Treadmill. The IEA has more gloomy news for us: We're getting between 3% and 4% LESS out of existing oilfields every year. Mature producing areas and many recent deepwater projects are declining at even sharper rates — 15% to 20% annually!

All told, the oil industry needs to add three million bpd of new supply each year just to offset declines in existing fields.

But the oil majors are having trouble finding oil. For example, last year was the first time — EVER — that Exxon didn't replace its reserves through its own drilling, according to Oppenheimer research.

Force #3: Oil Exporting Nations Need More of Their Own Product. The economies of many big oil-exporting countries are growing so fast that their domestic need for energy is sucking up their exports. Experts say the sharp growth, if it continues, means several of the world's most important suppliers may need to start importing oil within a decade.

OPEC member Indonesia has already started importing more oil than it exports ...

Mexico could be doing the same within five years ...

And domestic consumption in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran is soaring!

According to a report from CIBC World Markets, Russia, Mexico, and OPEC members will cut crude exports by as much as 2.5 million barrels a day by the end of the decade. That is MORE than the current spare capacity in the oil markets.

When OPEC recently opted to freeze output levels it argued that the global market for crude oil was "well-supplied."

But maybe the real reason was that OPEC just didn't have much more to sell.

My Forecast: We Could See Oil Hit $150 a Barrel in 2008

The Energy Information Administration recently told the U.S. Senate that crude should average $85 per barrel in 2008 as fundamentals tighten ...

Goldman Sachs said it could hit $105 ...

But I'm setting my sights a little higher: I think we could see prices spike to $150 a barrel next year!

That kind of a jump might not stick around very long. But as I just showed you, all the fundamentals are in place for oil to hit — and maintain — triple-digit prices next year.

In fact, I believe the only thing that could derail higher prices is a stiff recession in the U.S. And central banks around the world are working hard to prevent that. Our own Federal Reserve is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the markets, and the Bank of England and European Central Banks are doing the same.

Source: The Market Oracle

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Change Curve

“Change Curve is a concept often misunderstood and mis-applied frequently, even by major players in change arena.”

The Change Curve is an adaptation of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s - five-stage theory that seeks to explain how people deal with catastrophic personal loss (e.g. loss of a job, freedom, finances, status, identity) or grief (loss of a loved one). The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

It has also been observed that personal change can be somewhat like personal loss and, therefore, the model has been applied to change. Indeed, I have seen it stated, more or less as fact, that when people change they need to be helped along this curve. I’ve also seen it reduced to four (that way it fits nicely in a matrix) and three stages. But wait a minute. Let’s not let the facts get in the way of a nice model that has had little empirical testing in its own right, and particularly in relation to organizational change.

1. Kübler-Ross "stated that people do not necessarily go through all of the stages, and if they do, it can be in any order". Indeed, people can experience a whole range of emotions at different times during grief.

2. Change is not always experienced as loss. It’s exciting. It’s new. It’s a break with the old way of doing things.
It’s liberating. Some people love it, and some just want it to stay far far away, over there and affect somewhere else. Hence the reason why change is considered synonymous with grief?

The five-stage model is useful, but it is not the be and end all. Truth be told, you still need to truly understand how people really experience change.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

mydeco counter-cyclical start-up

“It's time to wipe your feet and come on in ... mydeco the place that makes it easier and much more fun to make your home more you.”

mydeco brings together the widest possible range of products from high street stores to niche retailers, thousands of inspiring looks to fit your budget, expert designers on hand for advice, and simple 3D tools to help you plan your room before you even open a tin of paint.

{it's leaping, vaulting, nothing's impossible ambition}
{it's exceptional, professional and passionately progressive}
{it's collaborative, responsive and totally committed}

Thinking behind the idea ...

Counter-cyclical start-up theory:
“When the big players retrench, the opportunities to innovate increase. Going against the grain is where entrepreneurs win.”

mydeco founder Brent Hoberman (of is Executive Chairman of mydeco, non-executive Chairman of WAYN (a travel and leisure social network with over 9 million members), a non-executive board director of Guardian Media Group and also acts as Governor of University of the Arts College, London. mydeco employs 35 people based in Victoria, London.

"We’ve got a passionate and talented founding team on board, with experience ranging from Community-building and 3D Design to Interior Designers and Architects."

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Us-and-them Syndrome

“Us-and-them syndrome eats away at al-Jazeera English”

Al-Jazeera English was launched in a blaze of publicity a little over a year ago, but what has happened to the dream of creating a multinational broadcaster since is dispiriting. The collapse in morale among employees, whether caused by financial constraints, a clash of cultures or political pressures, is a pity, because competition for Anglo-American news media is a healthy thing.

Discord was sowed from inception. The English channel operated at arm's length from the Arabic channel, offering better terms and conditions than those offered to staff at its headquarters and employees elsewhere - after all, Sir David Frost was on the payroll.

The repeated emphasis that the international channel would be independent from external influence also created ructions, because it implied that the original Arabic news channel was somehow not. Pointedly, its name was changed from al-Jazeera International to al-Jazeera English just prior to its launch.

Nigel Parsons, the English channel's managing director, started well, building a channel not wildly different from the BBC - a bit bland but certainly careful to report in a balanced way.

Yet it was never clear who the viewer was: outside Africa and Asia, resources were stretched. The mix of news could only have pleased diehard internationalists; most people also want a good dollop of news from home, but there was little from the US or Britain, where many English-speaking viewers are likely to be. There was also precious little marketing or viewing data.

Then, al-Jazeera English began to be reined in. From the summer, management clamped down on overheads and benefits, querying whether expatriate journalists needed to be paid so much. Parsons was excluded from board meetings, to the point where he reportedly had to glean information from a secretary.

Now, the climate of suspicion is such that some believe that political pressure will be exerted on their journalism, although accounts as to whether this is happening vary.

Al-Jazeera in Arabic, of course, made its reputation by being in tune with the views on the Arab street, but today's talk is of a softer line on the Saudi regime.

Two Arabic journalists recently published interviews with militants on their personal websites because they could not get them aired. One was with Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of al-Qaeda in Pakistan, who is suspected of involvement in the killing of Benazir Bhutto. The Mehsud interview, done in December before the assassination, did not appear, but a second interview conducted with Mehsud in January did air in the past week. It is easy to stir strong feelings here, and the reality of how news organisations work is always more complex than outsiders think. But trust is breaking down. In December, an emotional staff meeting heard an avalanche of grievances. At least one industrial tribunal hearing is in the offing, and the situation is summed up in the words of an employee internet posting:
“You don't need us Westerners any more do you?”

Al-Jazeera English was meant to help extinguish such them-and-us sentiments; that they are emerging shows how bad morale is. The emotion behind the scenes is beginning to surface publicly, and once credibility drains away outside, it is very, very hard to win it back.

Source: Times Online

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Success of Listening

“Listening may or may not be an act of love or way to tap into people’s dreams"

Listening may or may not be an “act of love” or way to “tap into people’s dreams,” but it sure as hell is (1) an uncommon act of courtesy and recognition of worth from which (2) you will invariably learn amazing stuff if you can just keep your damn mouth shut and ears open with an expression of interest on your face and (3) it will build-maintain relationships beyond your wildest dreams. The surprisingly uncommon act of listening is the most foolproof seduction “tool”-“method” ever invented because no one, M or F, is ever able to resist the overwhelming attraction that comes from being listened to and taken seriously ...

Source: Tom Peters - Success of Listening Intently

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Organizational Challenges

“McKinsey Global Survey: Organizational challenges of global trends”

  • Executives are grappling with a wide range of organizational challenges created by new economic and social patterns.

  • The respondents say that intensifying competition for talent, shifting centers of economic activity, and increased technological connectivity are the most important trends for their companies. Moving quickly and dealing with regional diversity are two of the most common concerns.

  • Two-thirds of the executives say that their companies aren’t sure of the right organizational response to emerging global trends — but the vast majority believe that responding effectively is critical for competitive advantage.

View: McKinsey Quarterly: Global Trends Survey

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