Archive for 2010

Famous people I’ve met: No.3254-William Hague

William Hague obviously gets to meet lots of political powerhouses, in his high-profile role, in the Shadow Cabinet. But has he met more famous politicians than Claire Dunning? I very much doubt it! Claire obviously has seen it all before and adds the former ‘Tory Boy‘ to the ever-lengthening list of ‘Politico’s’ she’s had her photie taken with: ‘Mandy’, ‘Broonie’, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair etc etc. She’s met more ‘Big Wigs’ than Elton John and Bruce Forsyth’s make -up artists, put together.

As you’ll see from the photo, Mr Hague’s quite an imposing figure though, as Claire’s not exactly a midget. She was too short to be a supermodel but was thrown-out of The Royal School of Ballet when she stretched to five and a half feet…

There’s no denying, he’s got presence and if things had turned out differently, it might have been Hague leading the Conservative Party into this May’s General Election. Politics, it’s a funny old game.

As everyone knows, William Hague got a hard time when he was younger and was often the brunt of many an ‘alternative’ comedian’s gags but he’s matured into a more respected political figure and orator. And anyone who enjoys a well-publicised ahem…light swally and chose to have their Stag Night at the magnificent Inverlochy Castle Hotel is awright in our books.

So, where will this latest photo be heading? At Dunning, we’ve got a ‘Smarty Pants Corner’ in the Boardroom where, along with the writer’s Cycling Proficiency Badge and 25 metre swimming patch, Claire gets to flaunt her various positions of responsibility, Chains of office, Certificates of increasingly large levels of merit, Board positions and, yes, photies of her with various billionaires, heid honchos, luminaries and MP’s. Depending on your point of view, this is extremely degrading, to certain under-achieving, slackers in the company, or, an exemplar of networking at its finest.

I have photos of me taken with ‘Reg Holdsworth‘, the ex-supermarket Manager from mid-1990’s Coronation Street. So, you can guess which pathetic camp I have a foot in…

Bold Thinking, Tough Choices, Clear Focus

At the end of this week, we’re decanting to St Andrews for the Annual Scottish Council for Development in Industry (SCDI) Forum. As you’ll see above, this year’s theme is  Re:wiring Scotland and as we’ve created the whole Identity for the event, we reckon it’s going to be great. Really, it’s  ‘must-go-to’ event for all forward-thinking companies and organisations operating in Scotland.

Rewiring Scotland (which takes place over two days at the Fairmont near St Andrew’s) comes at a really interesting time for Scotland. Anecdotally, we’ve heard from a lot of people who seem to believe that the worst of ‘the recession’ is behind us but we’ve also spoken to others (particularly in the Public sector), who reckon the savagery of spending cuts are only just beginning to manifest themselves.

In Glasgow alone this week, there’s been a couple of very high-profile ‘happenings’ , with the departure of Steven Purcell (under somewhat ‘cloudy’ circumstances) and the announcement of the new Glasgow 2014 Identity. Both of these announcements demonstrated the usual positive and negative aspects of the Business and Political arena in Scotland and highlighted the fact that there are always two ways of looking at things. Sadly, in Scotland, we can be rather introspective and the general ‘what a waste of money’ rather negative articles run by all our major papers regarding the new Commonwealth Games 2014 Branding leaves us thinking if Scotland really does want to take itself seriously on the World stage sometimes?

We’re hoping to get a lot out of our attendance at St Andrew’s. Whilst it’s a great networking opportunity and a chance to chat with ‘leaders’ we really hope it lives up to the billing and will look at the POSITIVE aspects of what’s been a bit of a ‘tough gig’ for everyone over the last couple of years. We think it’s time to be bullish and ambitious.

We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now.

Spare some change fur the Scottish delegates, big man?

Here at Dunning Towers, we’re great believers in pricking pomposity, highlighting outrageous abuses of position and making sure, as Scottish taxpayers, we get bloody good value for money. Of course, in the ‘social media’ world we live in, we believe, you’ve got to be honest and transparent, because if you’re not, it’s going to bite you on the bum. You’ll get found-out and exposed. Yup, we’re 100% in agreement with this. It’s our job to do this, we’re communicators.

However, we feel that certain journalists are digging not-all-that-deep, having a quick ferret-about and are pulling-out sensationalist, cheap stories, plucked out of what seem to be a fairly incongruous situations, experienced by every large and successful firm or ‘quango’. We think this could be very stifling, both for creativity and for communications.

You know the sort of things. “Outrageous! Look at this bloke’s hotel bill”, “Incredible! Check-out how much this organisation spends on coffee every year”…”Amazing! We can’t believe some of our top Executives met some other top Executives in another country, bet they had a big lunch and a fun day out”.

We’re getting a bit tired of these lame ‘exposes’ which smack of tokenism, getting a cheap jibe in, with minimum research. After all, it’s because of the spotlight most organisations work under that journalists can get easy access to these spurious and easy-to-sensationalise figures and items of financial housekeeping. Easy-peasy and a bit of a cheap shot,  if you’re an over-worked journo, working as part of a skeleton staff, who’s looking for a story to fill a few hundred words. This situation probably describes the majority of our news-vendors, these days, so it’s maybe not surprising that these non-stories are creeping into the papers with regular monotony.

We think it’s time for a bit of perspective. It’s time to look at whether these people really are ‘fat cats’. In our eyes, we definitely WANT our top executives to visit people in Barcelona to find out about their excellent transport system but we DON’T want them to stay in a Travelodge. We’d hate people in a top level, Ambassadorial role, to visit the Scandinavian Ferry Network people and eat out of paper bags at lunch and drink rotten wine. We like networking and we like research and fact finding and if we’re developing a culture where Quangos, PLC’s, Government and wee guys just starting out are frightened to do this or put it forward as a powerful business-building idea, we are sailing into very dangerous waters.

We’d suggest that most if not all of Scotland’s best firms and organisations based their original idea on an idea they’d seen ‘on their travels’ and if this works for the private sector, it sure as heck will work for the public sector too. Also, Scotland’s got a fabulous track record as Internationalists and if this willingness to learn from others starts to dry up because people are shit-scared of any adverse publicity, we’re Doooooomed as Private Fraser in Dad’s Army might have said.

Also, we’re not speaking about REAL fat cats. There are loads of examples of executives ‘leading by example’ and taking pay cuts or offering to fly ‘cattle class’. Sadly, this is usually an incredibly patronising and idealistic approach from ‘on high’ by someone who doesnae need to bother about the odd £million here or there. They can fly 2nd class to make a point, because they probably get 16 weeks holiday a year. It’s easy to take a pay cut when you’ve got £50 million. No, we’re right behind giving these guys a hard time (even bullying them if that was still allowed) to get to the bottom of the REAL story about them, not the ‘man of the people’ spin.

No, it’s the mid-level punters who quite often are only doing a job that we would like to offer a bit of support to. We reckon, if you’re going to go on any ‘fact-finding’ mission, of course there has to be a bloody good reason for doing it but once you’ve agreed on this, to do it on ‘a shoestring’ budget, is madness.

For instance, there’s a story about the Scottish Football Team, attending one of their first ever World Cups. It was a tale of embarrassment and humiliation as these under-funded, Scottish ragamuffins crossed-swords with the leading exponents of The Beautiful Game. Our team were humiliated. Everyone else had better digs, better strips, better suntans, and better haircuts and were therefore perceived as being ‘better’. We’re not advocating out-of-control budgets but we are advocating that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly.

As an ‘Island’ race, it’s pretty clear that if we DON’T go and visit anywhere, find out how it’s done really well and meet the clever people responsible for ‘best of breed’ in anything, we’re going to turn into a very insular bunch. The chav of Europe, who thinks they don’t need to learn from anyone else.

Sure, a video conferencing call or a stream of e-mails could avoid the need for a massive posse to head-off to foreign fields but we don’t reckon it’s EVER going to take the place of a great, face-to face meeting. Networking isn’t a bad word; it’s a fundamental for any forward-thinking, modern, go-getting Country. We’d like to think Scotland is one such Country?

We end on what could be seen to be a bit of a shocker. We’ve got a certain amount of sympathy with the recent ramblings of a Tory Knight, (can’t remember his name) who complained he didn’t travel well in 2nd class trains. The times they are a changing but to a certain extent, you’ve got to admire someone who, in these politically neutered times, said something that he actually believed in. A little bit of truth, floating above a sea of ‘PC’ platitudes, which tell you nothing about individuals or organisations.

If you seek the truth and want to be perceived as truthful, forward-thinking and ambitious with transparent communications, call us, we can help. We’ll get julian@creatingsparks.com to come and see you.

He’ll bring his own flask.