Spiga

Blog update: New Template, Twitter integration and links

Besides getting a new cleaner template, I've integrated Apture, a cool new links plugin, together with Disqus, an excellent commenting tool that allows you to comment using your own Twitter or Open ID and allows for threaded discussions.

Gartner's Tech Hype Chart.

An interesting view by Gartner.


BBC producing film based on the fall of Lehman Brothers, due this Autumn.

The BBC said on Wednesday that it is producing “The Last Days of Lehman Brothers,” a TV movie “inspired by the real events” of that September weekend, for its BBC Two channel...It isn’t clear when “The Last Days,” written by the BBC scribe Craig Warner, will come out, other than sometime this fall.

Watch online: BBC iplayer

iPhone vs Android Apps.

App costs on Android vs. iPhone

Android and iPhone Apps Cost About The Same, Except For Games And Dictionaries #1

The effect of competition

Washington Post figures the Apple App Store is cheaper in some instances because competition between the huge amount of similar apps has driven prices down. The Android market has much less apps available that Apple offers. At this time, the Android Market has about 6000 apps compared to 65,000 on the App Store. #1

Carbon Emission Comparison: Eurostar vs. Indian Railways

Rail travel is always projected as being the more fuel efficient transport - when compared to air travel anyway.


So anyway, this Sunday evening, a bug caught me and I began to wonder: Is it more fuel efficient to travel by high speed trains that are modern in design and run in western countries, or if it is cheaper in face to travel by slow moving mass carriers, such as trains in India.

At the face of it, it seems slower mass transport is bound to not only be cheaper, but also more fuel efficient and thus more 'green'. But lets not hypothesise over it, lets get some actual numbers out.

According to the Eurostar website: The carbon emissions per passenger distance travelled for the London-Paris round trip are 11 grams per passenger kilometre.

So lets see: there are no exact figures calculated for Indian Railways - at least none I want to depend on, so let me calculate it myself. I got access to the Annual Statistical Statements 2006-07 which is the latest year for which stats are available.

So I focused on two classes of stats:
  1. Total passenger kilometres (col.13 on pg. 12 of pdf)
  2. Fuel consumed for passenger services (col.3 on pg.4 of pdf)
The reports may appear confusing if you're unfamiliar with Indian Railways. They're divided into several zones (it is in fact the fifth largest network in the world) and stats are computed for each zone separately and then weighted averages calculated.

Anyway - so here are the figures I managed to dig out.

Total Passenger Kilometres: 694 billion kilometres ('a') = 694,000 million km.
Total fuel consumed (equivalent in coal): 759,140 tonnes ('b') = 759.14 million kg.

Coal used per passenger kilometre in 2006-07: 1.09 grams
Indian Railways: 1.09 grams
Eurostar: 11 grams

So effectively, Indian Railways is 10 times more carbon-efficient than the Eurostar's most efficient journey.

--- But before you say 'yay' read this:

If you would believe the stats offered by the Indian Railways, it is in fact the safest rail network in the world with the lowest accidents per million km:
Japan Railway Group: 0.65
Germany: 0.91
France: 0.84
Italy: 0.73
Indian Railway: 0.55

Of course this doesn't take into account fatalities or fatalities in suburban rail networks: with 20,000 people dead in Mumbai in rail accidents between Jan 2003-Dec 2007.

Not surprising. Youtube is full of videos like this one.


Forbes: Cass MBA 6th Best 1yr Program in the World

Forbes now ranks Cass Business School's 1 year MBA #6 in the world right behind INSEAD, IMD, IE, Judge & Said - putting us ahead of the likes of SDA Bocconi, Cranfield and HEC.



What happens when Twitter and Facebook collapse simultaneously?

So, Twitter has been down for over half an hour now. They've acknowledged this on their status blog.


Many users (including me) are reporting problems with Facebook too.

Is this the apocalyptic scenario when the world's social media collapses?

Maybe this is a Denial of Service or hack attack? What are the implications if the world's personal information lands up in the hands of some hackers, or even worse, an authoritarian government. After all, is it just a coincidence that this happens one day after Ahmadijenad was sworn in as Iran's President?

Update @15:28 BST. Livejournal is now down as well.

London's best street food: Whitecross Street. [TimeOut]

This week's TimeOut has an article on London's best street food and Whitecross Street behind Cass is featured.

www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/features/8332/5.html

Whitecross St, EC1Y (www.whitecrossstreet.co.uk). Old St tube/rail or Barbican tube. Speciality food market 11am-5pm* Thur-Fri; some stalls operate on other weekdays as well.

* Be aware that although the official opening times are from 11am to 5pm, we’ve found that most of the stalls pack up and leave soon after the lunch rush is over and the hordes have returned to their offices. We’d recommend getting there by 2pm for the best and freshest grub.

Image from moleitau

The Best Business Books Ever (as chosen by Fortune Magazine, NYT, FT and Businessweek).


The Smartest Books We Know [Fortune Magazine]

The Best Business Books Ever? [NY Times]

The Best Business Books of All Time [FT.com]

Must Reads for Investors [Businessweek]

Image from betta design

Collective wisdom and information overload.

Something about ants from the oldest magazine in the U.S.

www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=mindless-collectives-rational-decision-making

...these findings “underscore a nonintuitive point—getting lots of information about a problem may not help decision making if you have only limited computational capacity to process it. You might do better with a strategically limited set of information. The trick, of course, is knowing what information to use and what to exclude.”

Image from Itkovian

Privacy Practices & Policies in Online Social Networks

This research is really insightful and relevant to so many people. Well done Joseph Bonneau & Sören Preibusch at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

From the abstract of the paper:

We have conducted the first thorough analysis of the market for privacy practices and policies in online social networks. From an evaluation of 45 social networking sites using 260 criteria we find that many popular assumptions regarding privacy and social networking need to be revisited when considering the entire ecosystem instead of only a handful of well-known sites.
Impressive!

One of the more interesting things in this research is this amazing world social networking map listing the popular social networking sites in each country.



Social Network map of the world:


Here's a summary of the results for those of you interested. The following is a ranking of the most popular social networks by their 'Privacy Score'. Bebo scores best (quite fittingly) while Badoo (unsurprisingly!) is last of the lot.

Facebook is frustratingly middle of the pack when one would have expected it to have led by example.

On the other hand, Linkedin ranks second, which is impressive and probably one of the bigger reasons why it is the most popular business network on the web.

1 Bebo (0.7)
2 LinkedIn (0.7)
3 Gaia Online (0.69)
4 Habbo (0.66)
5 meinVZ (0.65)
6 Xanga (0.65)
7 Last.fm (0.64)
8 LiveJournal (0.62)
9 PerfSpot (0.61)
10 Ning (0.59)
11 Plaxo (0.58)
12 Windows Live Spaces (0.58)
13 Imeem (0.55)
14 Facebook (0.53)
15 XING (0.52)
16 Classmates.com (0.51)
17 CyWorld (0.51)
18 Orkut (0.51)
19 MocoSpace (0.49)
20 Twitter (0.49)
21 Yonja (0.49)
22 hi5 (0.48)
23 MySpace (0.48)
24 Hyves (0.47)
25 BlackPlanet (0.46)
26 Eons (0.46)
27 Imbee (0.46)
28 Experience Project (0.44)
29 Flixster (0.44)
30 Friendster (0.44)
31 NetLog (0.44)
32 Kaioo (0.43)
33 Viadeo (0.41)
34 Nexopia (0.4)
35 BuzzNet (0.37)
36 Bahu (0.35)
37 Multiply (0.34)
38 MyYearbook (0.33)
39 SkyRock (0.31)
40 Impulse (0.3)
41 Sonico (0.3)
42 Tagged (0.3)
43 MyLife (0.28)
44 CouchSurfing (0.26)
45 Badoo (0.23)

For more details, to download the research paper and the summaries, please visit this page.



An MBA makes some music

So Chris Theo, my classmate on the Cass MBA and an avid blogger himself (including a co-writer on this blog) just made a song and shared it with the world.

Just thought I'd share it with readers of this blog as an example of the creativity this recession is inspiring!

Photos from Wind Farms around the world

So I looked up flickr and found a group dedicated to Wind Farms. You can find it here

I took the geoFeed and put it on a Google map and the results are below. Maybe I should upload some of my own pics of Wind Farms in Karnataka and upload to this group!


View Larger Map

Global Trends in Wind Power Generation

I'm quite interested in green, sustainable ways to generate electricity and think that wind power is one of the best possible ways to do that. Looking at the Wikipedia article I managed to pull some statistics out and make some simple graphs that show the world's top 10 producers of wind power and the trends for each country.


Some interesting trends here already:

  • The United States has already become the world's leading producer of wind power, overtaking Germany in 2008.
  • China's increase almost matches the US and it is set to overtake Spain in 2008.
  • India's progress is perfectly linear - a case of planned strategy?
  • Many other countries one would expect to see doing more are way down the list or missing from it altogether: Brazil (as a fast growing economy), Japan (second biggest economy in the world), South Africa & Russia are completely missing, with no installed capacity (South Africa might get its first wind farm in 2010)
  • Egypt is the top African country on the list, at no. 23, followed by Morocco at no. 31.
Right, all this is fine - I'm not surprised that China and India are in the top 5 wind power generators as they are growing so fast that I suppose they have to tap every possible avenue. However, perhaps some credit is due to them both for encouraging investment in this area. They didn't sign Kyoto and are averse to agreeing to binding emission targets at Copenhagen (related news article) later this year, but clearly if things progress this way then they will be much greener economies as they develop.

I wanted to do one final check, a comparison of installed wind power capacity to the GDP of each of these 10 countries. I took the figures (again) from Wikipedia and stuck to the IMF list. I took the GDP in PPP as Wind Power is not generally meant for export and I thought it might provide a cleaner comparison between countries.


Right, so this is even more interesting - rather than comparing the share of wind power in total electricity generation (which is a bit skewed when comparing developed to developing countries), this comparison yields results that I think show which countries are MOST interested in generating more wind power - and indicate investments relative to their Gross Domestic Products.

Denmark, Portugal, Germany and Spain have clearly established themselves as leading proponents of wind power.

The rest follow in a bunch with India leading the wave, which I think is an incredible achievement given that the Indian economy is only half as big as China's and a fraction of the United States'.

Now if only China, US and India can accelerate quickly enough to overtake other wind power producers it would form a perfect innovation adopters graph :-)

Related Pages:
Cop15 - the conference at Copenhagen later this year
NYTimes article on differences between the Indian and American points of view
Neil Cavuto@Fox News on Hillary Clinton's apology to India over carbon emissions

Projects at Cass

So we had two main projects during our Core General Management Program - a Strategy Project and the Emerging Markets Consultancy Week (in Poland).


I just realised that I had given some feedback about these earlier and its on the Cass website here. I'm posting it on this blog for better visibility.

My team did the strategy project for Fortnum & Mason. Here are my comments on that.

“It was exciting to work for such a quintessential British brand. Besides it being an opportunity to apply our analytical and creative skills in a real business context, this project outlined some of the many challenges traditional businesses continue to face in a fast moving world. This project was also unique because relatively early on in the MBA, it offered us the opportunity to understand the application of theory, not just through a published case study, but through a journey of discovery. Finding an interesting company, identifying its challenges, getting the stakeholders' views and brainstorming, were aspects that magnified our independence as strategy consultants and made it an amazing learning experience.”

We also spent a week in Poland, consulting for an engineering design company. My comments on this project below:

“One of the more interesting aspects of globalization is the cultural understanding it’s brought into the core of managerial activity. Poland is a relatively new member of the European Union and Biproraf, the company we consulted, had recently been acquired by a large Italian company. This brought several variables into play that really enhanced our experience. We saw first hand how several trends - including the emigration of skilled labour, increased M&A activity and the intersection of European culture in a country with some of the least diverse demographics in Europe – were affecting Polish industry.”


My team's work was clearly helpful as is evident from this comment by Pawel Orlowski, Chairman of Management Board, Biproraf (Gdansk 2008)

“Although the team of consultants from Cass Business School had a very limited time, they successfully managed to provide a detailed analysis of our company as well as an overall transition strategy that integrates KTI Poland with BiproRaf, suggesting some useful steps in order to execute this aim. The students worked hard and we are highly satisfied with their project and the results of their analysis. Some of their suggestions were very interesting and we’re planning to implement them. For instance, the report highlight the views and concerns of our employees and we now understand how important effective communication among our team is, so we’ll concentrate more on this in the future. We’d like to congratulate the students on their success and look forward to hosting another group from Cass Business School in 2009.”

Any questions please post as comments. Thanks.

Cass MBA for you - Just a snapshot

10K run to sponsor MBA scholarship


Four of us from the class of 2008 are running the ASICS London 10K run this Sunday the 12th of July to raise money towards our 'class gift' - which is to raise £10,000 over a period of 3 years to sponsor an MBA scholarship at Cass Business School.

We'll be running past some of the most famous buildings in London so hopefully that will provide some more impetus to finish the run in a good time!

Please help our cause by donating at: http://www.justgiving.com/Cass10K/



Thanks very much.

Italian street festival in Clerkenwell. Sunday 12 July 2009 3.30pm.

"The Procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel became an important annual event, and eventually became something of a street festival – with decorated floats and people in colourful costumes. It still draws members of London’s Italian community, as well as many visitors. It’s a great chance to taste Italian food, as there are stalls selling all sorts of traditional treats."

More info here

Photos from previous events
Flickr 4













Image from StefZ

Make a short film to win internship at CERN.


http://www.atlas.ch/contest/

"We want you to start by showing us your communication and creative skills by producing an original short film or multimedia piece, incorporating material about ATLAS, the biggest experiment on the LHC. The best submissions will be posted on the ATLAS website and YouTube page with full credit to the author, and enter a competition for a paid internship at CERN or alternatively win a Adobe Production Suite package."


Image by clarksworth

Facebook's "Strategy" misguided by a Stanford MBA

Right, so before we get into a war of words let me explain what this is about. BusinessWeek interviewed Facebook's international manager (Javier Olivan) and reported it here.


Javier is apparently an MBA from Stanford and is 32 years old. Perfect credentials those, except once you read his comments you realise how ridiculous his perceptions are.

Orkut, a social networking service by Google, has been the dominant force in India for the past many years. Its nice, clean, basic and I'm on it as well - because many of my Indian friends are only on Orkut and not on Facebook.

Anyway, so in my opinion here are some reasons why Indians like Orkut:
1. It loads quick
2. You can have nicknames (and not be forced to use your real name)
3. It has seamless integration with Google Talk, an IM many Indians use.
4. It has smileys
5. Low privacy settings by default (this is important) - so anyone can write on anyone's wall, unless explicitly blocked.

Now these observations, 1-5, are important and they're not even exhaustive because I haven't gone through the trouble of analysing the case in detail for Mr. Olivan, but even at first glance, once can see quite a few differences with Facebook.

Lets take #2 and #5. Indians have a low expressed 'need' for privacy and they enjoy a more 'social' culture. However, when privacy is required, they'd rather hide behind an assumed nickname rather than set their privacy settings to block anyone not on their friends list.

And Orkut does allow comments in Hindi (and other Indian languages) as it has support for Unicode (as does Facebook). But now, Facebook thinks it has the Ace of Spades because it has now translated its entire website into Hindi (and five other Indian languages).

Reality check Facebook - Aditi Sharma says the right thing.

"We all write in 'Hinglish' anyway, so I don't need to have Hindi typing," says Aditi Sharma, 20, who studies in Mumbai but uses Orkut to stay in touch with high school friends. ("Hinglish" is what comes up when you type out Hindi phonetically with English characters, throwing in words from both languages for ease; for instance, "How are you?" becomes "Kaise ho?" )

But Javier insists that no, Indians want to read websites in their own languages.

And he adds:

"I don't know why people think that by having a local office you will have a better local product," Olivan says. That might work "for certain types of businesses," the Stanford MBA concedes, but not for Facebook. "The brick-and-mortar approach is not effective in doing [things] fast and efficiently," he says.

I mean seriously. Where is this guy from? Has he ever even been to India?

Fireworks from the HAC, Fri June 19.

It's a private event on the field but you might be able to get a good view from the upper floor of the Artillery Arms.

HAC Open Evening (in front of Cass) tonight, 19 May.

Honourable Artillery Company Open Evening tonight, 19 May 2009 in front of Cass.
Details

Coverage of last year's event
http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2008/05/21/the-honourable-artillery-company/
http://thelondoneer.blogspot.com/2008/05/honorable-artillery-company-open.html

Apache helicopter taking off from the HAC last year
video

New series of BBC’s The Apprentice leaves a bad taste...

Originally posted @ Blog in the life of a London MBA:

So, I’ve managed to overcome my unease at watching BBC’s The Apprentice. The problem with it was that seeing a bunch o’ city boys n’ girls arguing just reminded me a little too much of group meetings during the MBA (some of them at least). People fighting to be heard and lots of talking over each other combined with some monumentally bad ideas seen through to completion used to make for uncomfortable viewing, now it just makes me laugh. For the most part I am enjoying the series so far.

the-apprentice-108 His beard is made of pubes

The one thing doesn’t sit well with me at all though lies at the very heart of the program and that is the “greed is good” mentality that Sir Alan Sugar is such an advocate of. Meanwhile, his 15 acolytes are responsible for some of the most sickening and reprehensible sound bytes I’ve ever heard. Here a just a couple:

“…when I wake up in the morning I can taste success in my spit!”

“To me making money is better than sex!”

“Being successful is more important than being popular, you don’t have to make friends on the way up when you’re not coming back down”

In the current economic climate, caused at least in part by this level of blind ambition and ethical ambiguity, I find it hard to relate to any of the characters in the program. I love to hate most of them and just plain hate the rest but it is enough to keep me watching, albeit with a slightly bad taste in my mouth. I’m also somewhat convinced that these people don’t actually exist and are just some kind of manifestation invoked by Sir Alan calling upon ancient spirits buried deep in the East-end of London… Guv’nor.

PD*27595776 This series’ contestants

In a video on the BBC News website Sir Alan says that this series is taking the recession into account with certain tasks. One in particular is to restore a seaside town which has been hit by the recession. However, I’m not sure I’m convinced. How much economic rejuvenation can actually occur in the 2-3 days they have to complete a task?

In my opinion this whole series should have have been reworked thematically to draw more attention to corporate social responsibility and steering away from the usual capitalism on steroids mentality. Additionally, I think every task should be focused on beating the recession either by encouraging investment and/or by helping struggling local businesses to thrive. Then again, ask yourself next time you decide to watch it whether or not you would trust any of these lot with your flagging business. I certainly wouldn’t.

Let me know what you think…

Ask your questions

A number of people have read this blog and then emailed me to ask me specific questions about the MBA. Rather than reply individually I thought it might be best to address as many of the general questions I can under this post as comments.


So if you have a question please post here and either me or my colleagues will respond to you as soon as we can.

Info on Protests in the City of London 31 Mar - 2 Apr

Stay safe! It might be an idea to buy your lunch early or bring in a packed lunch to avoid the crowds.

G20 Meltdown in the City 1st & 2nd April 2009 Facebook Group
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53674491031

Monitor different news coverage of the protests in real-time
http://www.newsnow.co.uk

Spoof version of the FT
http://ft2020.com/

G20 Meltdown in the City Website
http://www.g-20meltdown.org/

"Lost your home? Lost your job? Lost your savings or your pension? This party is for you!

At 12 noon, April 1st, we're going to reclaim the City, thrusting into the very belly of the beast: the Bank of England. Click here (or above right) for one of the many posters sent to this website.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will lead themed processions starting at 11 a.m. from the following rail stations:

* Moorgate: Red horse against War;
* Liverpool St: Green horse against Climate chaos
* London Bridge: Silver horse against Financial crimes
* Cannon Street: Black horse against land enclosures and borders in honour of the 360th full circle anniversary of the Diggers"

More information about the different protests next week
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5061837/G20-summit-What-to-expect.html

Image from jcodysimms

Cass MBA team semi-finalists in L'Oreal business competition

From the Cass News Page:

A team of full time MBA students from Cass have become semi-finalists of the L'Oreal EStrat, one of the world's biggest online business simulation competitions. Over 30,000 teams began the competition, with only 300 teams making it through to the semi finals. The Cass team made it through five rounds of the competition which saw each group manage a portfolio of beauty brands and compete for worldwide leadership against other virtual companies.

Read more here

Life on Bunhill Row



Originally uploaded by celie
Cass is on Bunhill Row in London. This photo is a couple of buildings down from Cass with Bunhill Fields, an old cemetery, in the background.

Thanks celie for a great capture and Reza for the tip!

Ran out of image bandwidth!

Whoops. Clearly we're getting far more visitors than we were geared up for. I was using some images posted on photobucket for the template and we ran out of bandwidth.


Anyhow, trying out different templates now and will home in on a newer design soon.

Thanks for reading!

Life@Cass is one of the 100 Best MBA blogs.

Graduate Degree Blog says so.....here.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my lobbyist.

Ryanair and a Lesson in Company Manners

Jason Roe, a freelance web developer from Ireland, discovered a bug on the ryanair website, where published fares are reset to £0.00 if you have the voucher section open at the same time (I just tried this and it works!)


Anyway, one irate Ryanair staffer started posting comments on Jason's blog post with remarks including,
- "you’re an idiot and a liar!!"
- "If you would work in your pathetic life on a such big project in a such busy environment with so little resources, you would know that the most important is to have usual user behavior scenarios working rather than spending time on improbable and harmless things"
- "Defensive aggression of Ryanair stuff is less than offensive aggression of customers and each (staff) member gains this gradually."

Many other comments are clearly offensive and unappreciative of the fact that someone found a fault in Ryanair's booking system and reported it in good faith.

So - The Times caught this story and actually spoke to Ryanair about it - who in their amazing style, wrote this back (emphasis mine).
"Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.

"Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel”.
Can I just say WOW. Not only did Ryanair confirm that one of their staff members interacted on that blog post, but they endorse it!

In the book The Rainmaker by John Grisham - a young man's family is fighting a giant insurance company to get a medical claim for a life threatening illness. The fictional insurance company sends him a letter in that book (made famous by the repeated emphasis the lawyer places on it in his lawsuit).
On seven prior occasions we have denied your claim in writing.
We now deny it for the eighth time. You must be stupid, stupid, stupid."
Sincerely,
Everett Lufkin, vice-president of Claims.

This fictional letter also seems to symbolise how much Ryanair needs to change its culture if it is to be a better managed organisation and one with a longer term future.

Ryanair, I hope you take note.

P.S: Just seen - Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary runs his car as a taxi so he can use bus lanes!

New look for the blog

Now that we're getting more visitors and the interest in this blog is growing, I thought I'll update the design (finally!) so that content can be better organised on these pages.

I have adapted the Nite life blogger template and used an interesting image by Annie Mole as the background.

Old Street is the tube station I travelled to everyday - others use Moorgate or Liverpool Street - and so this image represents the journey I took to Cass everyday.

Hope you like the new look.


Update: This blog now sports an even newer look!

City University Web Team Blog

Just noticed that City University's web team has a blog - pretty good too! 

I'm impressed.

Workshop: 'Turning Around Failed Banks' on 10 Feb.

Dr Wes Harry will be presenting a workshop on the topic 'Turning Round Failed Banks: the people dimensions' at Cass on Feb 10, Tuesday, between 1500 and 1700.

"The seminar will focus on how I, as the member of the top management team responsible for HRM, helped to create a strong reputable bank from four failed banks in the Middle East. The people dimensions are focused on management and staff but do include factors important to shareholders, governments, customers and others with whom a bank interacts. Although the seminar is aimed at researchers it might be of interest to others including those in management positions or studying business subjects. This will not be a case study as I can give information in the public domain but I will talk about issues and topics of relevance to the current financial situation and organisational survival and success. The room has not yet been allocated but probably in the Cass new building in Chiswell St- this will be confirmed later this week.If you would like to attend please contact me on wesharry [at] gmail [dot] com Best regards, Wes."

Image courtesy: gvraymond
Click on image to zoom in onto comments.

The current economic crisis and Saul Steinberg

Just noticed that Christoph Niemann had posted an I Lego NY post on his blog on the New York Times and someone in one of the comments compared it to Saul Steinberg's art.

So had a look at the Saul Steinberg Foundation page and got this off it: "Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) was one of America’s most beloved artists, renowned for the covers and drawings that appeared in The New Yorker for nearly six decades and for the drawings, paintings, prints, collages, and sculptures exhibited internationally in galleries and museums.

Take a look at some of his art in the gallery here

On the foundation's website, I found this one piece particularly fascinating - pretty representative of the current economic crisis in my opinion. Greed, achievement and more greed. And then Kaput.





(click on the image to go to its original source)

Big Chef Heston

Wow, Just saw the first episode of Big Chef takes on Little Chef and I must say it is the most embarassing portrait I have seen drawn of any CEO. 


Ian Pegler, the CEO of Little Chef (which is a chain of roadside restaurants in the UK) besides having inanely blank face expressions almost seems like a kid used to throwing tantrums being thrown inside an adult playground where people actually negotiate.
According to the Telegraph, Little Chef collapsed into administration with a £3m annual loss in 2007 and the company is now managed by two investment funds: R Capital and Flight & Partners. Ian, it seems, was the CEO of Dixon's and Marks & Spencer earlier. 
Anyway, so Ian invited Heston Blumenthal, the dude who runs the 'Second Best restaurant in the world' to re-engineer their menu with £350K. Naturally, it seems he spoke to the investors and they okayed it. Now this is fine, but he actually chose to make it a TV show, because in his opinion it makes for good PR.
The idea to invite in Blumenthal and Channel 4's cameras had been discussed with Little Chef's private equity owner RCapital before Pegler's appointment, but he quickly backed the plan. "I'm a great believer in PR-ing the business. It is cheaper than advertising."
No Ian, it doesn't make for good PR when you call in a celebrity chef and know you're being watched by millions of viewers on TV and then slam the phone down because the consultant you hired is asking you for gross profit figures because he needs to know how much you have to play around with!
In fact, the whole show, well at least the first episode, looked like a disaster for Little Chef. Its as if a cheap chinese watch manufacturer had invited Rolex to design its next range of watches hoping it would turn its fortunes around. Its ridiculous. Like we studied in the MBA, the processes followed for low quantity-high variety products, like the food at the Fat Duck (£250 per head) and for high quantity but low variety products (Little Chef!) are pretty different. The first mistake Ian, as CEO of Little Chef, made was to invite one of the world's best chefs to design a menu that costs under £10 and is made by untrained cooks in a kitchen that has no pots (yes! no pots or pans!).
Add to that the cultural aspects that need to be so carefully managed - with Little Chef employees having worked there for 25-30 years and getting an external consultant who is not being given any assitance and who the employees (so far) see as being arrogant and unrealistic. Well, he probably is! Because Little Chef (again, so far), has not done much to educate him on company ways or their goals - or even their current financial status for that matter!
Ian Pegler seems to have a simplistic view that getting a celebrity chef, having the menu redesigned, would give impetus to a company that would otherwise fail. Well, I doubt that his simplistic view of corporate strategy will get the company anywhere. In fact, I'm surprised that the invested companies actually agreed to that. Private Equity, I thought, liked to keep things quiet and in this case, it has the CEO of the company slamming the phone down on national TV!
Anyway, can't wait to see the second episode. Its going to be a challenging individual journey for Heston, but for Little Chef its going to be nothing short of a corporate disaster (regardless of how the TV show turns out, it will obviously end in euphoria because thats what god TV is all about). 
Okay, just checked, tomorrow night at 9 PM on Channel 4. And you can probably catch today's show on 4OnDemand.
Oh and by the way, if you're heading off to Little Chef's website to see what they're about, don't bother, its obviously dealing with far more 'eaters' than it usually does!


Update: I love Flight and Partners privacy statement over here on their website. They're obviously firm believers!

'Million Dollar Traders: Make Me a Trader' (Ep 1/3) on BBC iPlayer until 3 Feb.

Until the 3rd of February, BBC iPlayer is showing Million Dollar Traders: Make Me a Trader (Ep 1/3).

"Eight ordinary people are given a million dollars, a fortnight of intensive training and two months to run their own hedge fund. Can they make a killing?...Yet no-one foresees the financial crisis that lies ahead... The traders were selected in spring 2008, before the US credit crisis gathered pace... Among them are an environmentalist, a soldier, a boxing promoter, an entrepreneur, a retired IT consultant, a vet, a student and a shopkeeper."

Read the Guardian's preview here.

Image courtesy: gusifer

Business 360: Madoff Scandal

Giorgio Questa , Senior Visiting Fellow and Course Director, MSc Banking and International Finance, MSc Investment Management at Cass Business School gives his reflections on the Madoff case on CNN International.



Cass Business School on BusinessWeek

I've created a new 'topic' for Cass Business School at BusinessWeek Exchange (BX).

BX is a good aggregator platform and provides excellent visibility to the business community. If you're not already a member you can easily sign up using your Linkedin credentials and help contribute to the Cass page and also read what other people find about other topics.

A number of business schools are already on the site so if you're from a school that's not already on it, you can create a 'topic' for your school/program after logging in.

For those that do not know, Cass started its own Youtube channel a few months ago and it has a few videos on it already.
One of the more important things that does remain to be addressed properly is the Cass Business School page on Wikipedia. It remains quite basic in the information it presents so if you're interested in becoming an editor on Wikipedia, this is a good place to start.

Regular contributors wanted for 'Life at Cass' blog.

Image Courtesy: kk+ on flickr'Life at Cass' would like to invite a few regular contributors to write on this unofficial Cass Business School blog.

http://lifeatcass.blogspot.com

This blog was started in November 2007 by MBA students who have just graduated and we would like the blog to keep on going.


Anyone from the global Cass community could be a potential contributor including alumni, faculty, staff, researchers, Cass partners and students (MSc, MBA, EMBA, Dubai EMBA, MEMBA, Exec Ed, Phd, MPhil, MRes, PgDip, PgCert, BSc etc).


The posts will be organised by Labels/Tags. Since there will be multiple contributors, one submission per month would be sufficient although more frequent contributions would also be encouraged.


Get in touch if you're interested.






We look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks,
Orwellthatendswell.

Image Courtesy: kk+ on flickr