Martin P Wilson


Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Insight, IT

Facilitation and Mentoring for Success.

KJ14003 Weekend Work BagMalevolently it sits there, throbbing gently and exuding guilt every time you pass. It is in control of your mood and is determined to ruin your weekend. There is no escape…

It is your briefcase, stuffed with work you have brought home to do over the weekend. You knew in your heart when you packed it that you would not get it done. But still you brought it all home even though you have a busy weekend of family commitments. Why, oh Why?

Managing Work-Life Balance

Many years ago I had a boss, Mike Fitzsimons, who taught me a valuable lesson, one I practiced until recently. He pointed out that although we have good intentions when we take a bag of work home at the weekend we rarely get it done. If we do it is often at the cost of domestic harmony. The description of a case of work throbbing gently in the corner is his. His alternative approach was to get into the office early on a Saturday and clear the work he would otherwise have taken home. Generally he had it done by coffee time and was back at home well in time for lunch with the rest of the weekend clear in front of him.

At the time we usually worked away during the week on client sites so we did much of our work in hotel rooms; there was not much else to do. It was in the days before e-mail so there was always administrative stuff to do when we did make it back to the office for a few hours. By going in and clearing the administrative backlog he could relax knowing it was not building up.

I started doing the same and spending just an hour or two in the office early on Saturday rather than taking a bag of work home. It had the advantage that my boss and I were also able to catch up, share information and plan our response to any new opportunities or challenges. By 11am I was done and the rest of the weekend was my own to enjoy with the family without guilt.

It is important to find a way of separating work and home life. If one does not, one may wake up one day and find there is only work. And work is uncertain in these times of austerity.

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Washing Machine ControlsAt the weekend Thoughts will have a more personal, domestic or lifestyle topic. This is the first Something for the Weekend.

Recently I was repairing our tumble dryer and I got thinking about the number of redundant features on modern domestic appliances and other everyday equipment. Everything from mobile (cell) phones to washing machines seems to have programme options and facilities that no one uses; in many cases users are not even aware of them.

Technology and Elegant Simplicity

This was brought into sharper focus by this week’s death of Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple. Apple has built its brand around a philosophy of simplicity and good design. Ever since the original Mac, Apple has steadily removed features of marginal utility. At times this seems to have gone too far for many users but with time it has often seemed prescient as others have followed suit. Unlike so many manufacturers who use technology and add complexity Apple uses technology to simplify the usability of its products.

If one looks at a modern domestic washing machine it has programmes for everything. The temperature can be set from little more than room temperature practically to boiling; there are programmes with and without spin, variable spin speeds and even degrees of agitation. Talking to most people they use one or two, usually low-temperature, programmes for all their washing. Many people just separate light and dark washing into delicate and the rest.

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Quick Thoughts

Has Military Action Ever Dissuaded Tyrants?

Syria - flagIn his speech before the war in Iraq Tony Blair, the UK Prime Minister, argued that not intervening would send a message that tyrants would feel at liberty to act without consequence. By military action in Iraq, he argued, those who would perpetrate atrocities would think twice. There would not seem to be any evidence, before or since, that would back up that contention.

We now have David Cameron, the current Prime Minister, making essentially the same arguments – do politicians ever learn from history?


Government Spending is not Driver of Growth

Parliament Square London IC02001If more public spending is the only way to create growth then surely governments have become too large a part of the economy? Government is about spending and has little to do with creating wealth.

The best government can do is move wealth from individuals and business to those who serve government.


Capped Bonuses, There May be Trouble Ahead

Politicians do not seem to be good at imagining unintended consequences. The cap on bankers’ bonuses, however popular, may be counter-productive in reducing risk.

Dark Stormy Skys and Beauty Often CoexistIf a smaller proportion of a trader’s income is at risk if a trade goes wrong they may pursue high-risk opportunities to get that big win. If it works they guarantee the full bonus and could also use it to negotiate a higher salary (and bonus) for the following year. If it fails the downside is limited by the capped bonus to a smaller part of overall income. At the end of the day traders are competitive and gamblers at heart so will they be more likely to pursue the big win when their own risk is limited?

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