Creative dissatisfaction

You may have seen the piece on “How to Build a Culture of Innovation” in BW last week. It had a focus on Tata in India and in this TCS Chief Technology Officer Ananth Krishnan is quoted as saying that they train people to have a culture of creative dissatisfaction. Time is set aside for employees to work on their own things and this is nurtured alongside more formal systems for innovation. That in itself is nothing new. Many of the most innovative companies have realised that if you fill up an employees time with tasks then they do not have time – or the mental energy –  to actually think about what might be done differently.  But I really like the term creative dissatisfaction. It suggests that something negative can be turned into something positive.

Here in the School many things are happening. You can’t really put your finger to it. Well you can if you catch up with the outgoing MBA class who are all about to submit their final project, but it’s much more than that.  So many things are happening in preparation for the new class to arrive and also in preparation for the outgoing class to complete their studies. I know that quite a few of the new MBA class are in town already and it is really nice when they drop in to say hi. It’s rather exciting to have this new group of people coming along who will influence your life – people that I can learn from.

Japan in black again

With a growth of 0.9% in the second quarter Japan is the third of the G7 countries to send signal that the recession has let go of Japan. The growth comes after four consecutive quarters of contraction but the Nikkei index dropped as the rate of growth was not as large as had been hoped for. On the other side of the World Hong Kong and Singapore are also back in black and growth is resuming in China. In the UK we still have to wait a bit before we can celebrate that. Unemployment increased in the three months to June, now we are at a jobless rate of 7.8%. Mervyn King of Bank of England has warned that any recovery that we might see in 2010 is likely to be fragile and should be nurtured carefully rather than celebrated with a big splash out. Mr King also suggested that BoE might have to consider additional measures but nothing was disclosed.

On a different note – I guess we all watched Usain Bolt smash the 100m World record to smithereens yesterday. Wasn’t this just something to celebrate? His improvement of his own record was the biggest margin in history. And he was fast. The weird thing is that he doesn’t seem to run fast.

Some light ahead

I saw in the news today that Germany and France seems to have exited the recession with a growth of each of the two economies of 0.3%. This is based on consumer confidence with increased spending and stronger exports – German exports rose 7% in June. Some of the growth has been made possible by Government support mechanisms in the shape of arrangements to stimulate growth. Seen from a Danish point of view (which for natural reasons I do from time to time) the growth in Germany is good news because Germany is Denmark’s most important market. The positive news becomes visible when studying the trade of Danish shares on the Danish stock exchange – lots and lots of green numbers. Looking to the Euro-zone the view is still bleak and even more so when looking towards the UK. No doubt there is light ahead but how long will it take before the UK emerge into the sunshine? Only time will tell. Closer to home Scotland is suffering the ‘football blues’ after the 4-0 defeat in Norway last night. Yes again, Scotland is more than likely to miss out on a World Cup Final. Just a place in the play-offs will take victories over both Macedonia and the Netherlands. Both games are on Scottish turf.

As I have mentioned before we have the Edinburgh Festival on our doorstep and as my window faces Bristo Square I have a prime view of the events. Lots of visitors and sometimes some decidedly weird-looking ones. The latter is of course the performers. I hope. Otherwise, why would you want to walk around dressed up as a big chicken or in pink tights and a tutu, sporting a massive beard? And I can see the big poster advertising the Chippendales. No I’m not going.

Looking ahead – and back

Just back from two weeks of annual leave and I found 670 new emails in my inbox. That’s 47.8 emails a day including Saturdays and Sundays. No wonder I sometimes slack off emails – you’ve probably seen it in my blog. So I’m still digging through. I spent some time in Denmark with the family (and secured a nice tan there) and also some time at home in Edinburgh. With the various festivals on full speed there’s always something to do in Edinburgh in August. In fact there’s always something to do in Edinburgh.

While I’ve been off I have of course still kept up with the news: Barclays’ positing a 8% increase in profits, but with an increase of £2bn of toxic debts, and RBS a deceptive plus for the first six months of 2009. Unlike Barclays, RBS is still expecting more sever write-offs as a consequence of toxic debt. Barclay’s result has of course sparked the discussion about bonuses again but they have cleverly put off that decision until end-year. is that in the hope that things will look much brighter then and we won’t notice some big bonuses? I don’t know. The problem about bonuses is that in the past they were not based on proper measures. A bonus is can be OK if it is based on proper principles. The thing is of course that the UK taxpayer owns RBS to a very large extent so big bonuses are probably not on the agenda here, while Barclays decide for themselves. Or rather the shareholders do. Barclay customers can of course vote with their feet. A plus is that the housing market seems to be picking up but the problem is that mortgages are difficult to secure and many business fail to secure necessary capital. Therefore the job market is still a major problem and we will see small businesses failing because banks are taking the opportunity to right past wrongs and stock up. Have you noticed that although the BoE rate is at an all-time low of 0.5% fixed rate mortgages are still at min 3.5%. Speaking of margins!

Quite apart from this I do have my eyes on other things as well and I note that ‘my’ new MBA class will be here in less than five weeks, so many interesting people will come to Edinburgh very soon and hopefully create the usual close-knit network. At the same time the incumbent class is working on their final projects while at the same time keeping a keen eye on the job market. It is looking rather difficult and I think one has to accept that for the time being the job market is very much of a temporary nature with contracts and internships dominating. BW had some good advice on how to turn an internship into a job; basic advice really but it’s always good to keep these things in mind.