Category Archives: Understanding

Tips, techniques, tools and information on building better understanding of situations.

In praise of volumetric models

I’ve just been building a volumetric model for a large volume consumer-market website. We wanted to make sure that we sized the initial launch infrstructure correctly, and had an understanding of the cost of growth (of both transactions and data volume).

It’s been a doubly useful exercise – as well as giving us the figures we needed, it has also highlighted an unexpected consequence of (an otherwise very sensible) archiving policy decision. This has allowed us to tweak a policy and create a new approach to one aspect of marketing, saving thousands of pounds per year.

Certainly good anecdotal evidence to support the old programmers adage that “it’s cheaper to fix it on paper…”!

Paralympians and Your People

We took the week off last week, so that we could head down to the London 2012 Paralympics – which was simply stunning, by the way, and hugely inspirational.

There is just so much I could blog about from that week beyond the obvious sporting endeavour – organisation, good-humour, commitment, achievement, sportsmanship, generosity of spirit – the list goes on and on.

One thing that really did hit home for me though was the changes in attitude that I really believe the Paralympics will have started.

Paralympic sport is a lot about celebrating, challenging and competing in what people can do, not what they can’t do.

What a great way of looking at life in general; and at the people we interact with every day…

Supporting Prioritisation Across The Business

Bit of food for thought today.

We have been working with a client recently on a simple, clear way of prioritising both strategic and day-to-day demands on time (in this case for the IT department).

If It’s Too Hard, Abdicate It…?

At Critical Action, we’re great believers in the principle that managers and leaders can’t create two independent sets of priorities for strategic (“we must improve the business”) and tactical (“we must keep our users and customers happy”) activities, and abdicate to operational staff the balancing of the two in the real world. Continue reading

Learning online – 85,000 at a time…

Keeping the Mind Fresh

I’ve always tried to do at least one course or qualification each year which is nothing to do with “the day job”. This is partly for relaxation, but also because doing radically different things forces you to think differently Lastly, it reminds me what it is like to have to start from scratch again, acquiring knowledge and skills. It keeps the brain fresh.

For example, I went to night school and studied British Sign Language for 4 years (after starting out with just a one year introduction course!). I followed that with a course on welding – slightly different. After that, I started Pilates classes (I’ve broken too many bones to go back to rugby again). Continue reading

This month’s reading…

I’m re-reading a couple of my business books this month, both of which I felt it was worth mentioning. Both are thought-provoking, and full of practical things to try, even if you don’t agree with everything in them.

First up is “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis. Not just an interesting manifesto/thought piece, but also interesting to look at 2009’s predictions through 2011’s lens!

Second is “Yes! 50 secrets from the science of persuasion” by Goldstein, Martin and Cialdini, which never fails to give me ideas for new things to try and new ways to look at old problems.

If you’ve not read them, give them a try – I’d love to know what you think of them.

Technologies Supporting Business Continuity

Office365 and Windows Server 2008R2Business Continuity is a broad church, meaning different things to different businesses. It’s also very much a people thing; after all, it exists to keep people in jobs, delivering to customers, whatever happens.

That said, we have recently been involved in designing and deploying a fair few technology implementation projects within our process and systems work.

What is clear is that over the past year, and probably in the forthcoming year, there are a number of technologies which have come of age, or are due to have some significant upgrades that should transform them. Continue reading

Chortling With The Chimp

MailChimp LogoThis brief blog post is a hat-tip to MailChimp, the service we’ve started using for the Monthly-ish Updates recently.

I smile almost every time I use the service – instead of “email sent”, “details updated” or “new subscriber”, you get funny little lines like:

Fine piece of work!
You totally deserve a raise!

The MailChimp Crew Continue reading

Talentropy?

We’ve been playing with words, images, emotions, icons and so on for some branding work we’re doing on a new offering. Something that fell out of this was a word that I just liked the sound of:

Talentropy

Then I thought a bit more about it – the flow of talent. This seemed like quite a useful concept to me.

As business owners, managers and leaders, there are two crucial concerns – creating value for stakeholders (owners, shareholder, staff, investors, communities, etc.) and finding and keeping good people for our teams. Value and Talent. Continue reading

Unbreakable Business

Keith Shering, MD of Critical Action, was one of the speakers at the recent, very well received “Creating An Unbreakable Business” event, held at NetSupport in Market Deeping, and organised by The Business Club, Peterborough.

As well as coordinating the speakers, Keith was one of eight subject matter experts giving business owners and decision makers quick-fire, thought-provoking 15-minute talks on what can break businesses, and what we can do to make strong, resilient businesses that survive and prosper – making businesses more unbreakable. Continue reading