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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Do you need an on-line tool rather than a spreadsheet?




You may be familiar with the simple process that we use at Spreadsheets by Email to make it easy for clients to get the spreadsheet they want as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Sometimes, however, a spreadsheet is not the ideal answer to the problem and an on-line database application is more appropriate - particularly if:
  • Multiple users need access at the same time;
  • Not all users will have Excel or another spreadsheet package on their PC;
  • Some users need mobile access;
  • The requirement is more of a database solution.
We have today added this service to the Spreadsheets by Email website.

Just visit the on-line tools page for more information.


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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Credit Crunch solved!




Well maybe not, but I had to share this entertaining story that was forwarded to me on a round-robin email. Apologies if you have seen it:

"It's a slow day in a little South Devon town. The sun is beating down,and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.  
         
On this particular day a rich tourist from up north is driving through town. He stops at the motel and lays a £100 in cash on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.
 
As soon as the man walks upstairs, the owner grabs the notes and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.
 
The butcher takes the £100 and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.
   
The pig farmer takes the £100 and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.
 
The guy at the Farmer's Co-op takes the £100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her "services" on credit.
 
She rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the hotel owner.
 
The hotel proprietor then places the £100 back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything.
 
At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the £100, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.
 
No one produced anything. No one earned anything.
 
However, the whole town is now out of debt and now looks to the future with a lot more optimism.
 
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the British Government is conducting business today."

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Friday, 5 March 2010

What's the point of business plans?

This evening I attended a really interesting and informative event run by The Entrepreneurs' Forum at Durham Business School entitled "The Challenges of Growth".

It was a panel event where four successful entrepreneurs were quizzed about how they grew their businesses.

One particularly interesting point was that none of the four said they set out with a detailed business plan and they had all only used business plans for raising finance or later in their business when they needed to co-ordinate the activities of  a much bigger workforce.

They all seemed to feel that the flexibility and agility they had been able to display through the lack of a detailed plan had worked in their favour.

I must admit I am inclined to agree with them, but what do you think?






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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Bankers' Bonuses rewards for simple mechanical tasks

I stumbled across this really interesting and entertaining video of Dan Pink discussing the social science behind  motivation and rewards. In the speech, he quotes some 2005 research where economists, D. Ariely et al, set a bunch of MIT students various tasks with varying levels of bonuses for success.

Their results were intriguing:

As long as the task involved only mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance.


But once the task called for "even rudimentary cognitive skill," a larger reward "led to poorer performance."

These results have been borne out in many other studies too.

The logical conclusion of this research, if the bankers are right in that they need to be paid their huge bonuses, is that investment banking does not require even rudimentary cognitive skill. An interesting thought.

I'd recommend watching the whole video. It explains why, for most types of work, bonuses reduce performance rather than improve it and gives us all food for thought when it comes to rewarding our own employees.




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