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Jonathan Gifford (Oxford, UK)

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Araldite Repair Aqua Putty Tube, 50 g
Araldite Repair Aqua Putty Tube, 50 g

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing fix for submerged cracks, 7 Aug. 2017
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Our toilet cistern suddenly developed a leak - a hairline crack right down through the cistern. Near the top of the crack I was able to smooth it on tidily with a putty knife nice and tidily; further down where the crack was in the curved corner I had to apply like plasticine with my fingers: both techniques worked perfectly. The surfaces were still a bit damp when I applied it - no problem - and of course the fix is permanently submerged - also no problem. Amazing stuff!


De'Longhi Kettle Scultura KBZ3001.G, 3000 W - Grey
De'Longhi Kettle Scultura KBZ3001.G, 3000 W - Grey
Price: £89.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Classy kettle; love it!, 9 May 2017
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It's just lovely - you look at your kettle every day; why not bring a little design into your life? I smile every time I use it.


Rethinking Reputational Risk: How to Manage the Risks that can Ruin Your Business, Your Reputation and You
Rethinking Reputational Risk: How to Manage the Risks that can Ruin Your Business, Your Reputation and You
by Anthony Fitzsimmons
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading, 9 May 2017
Hardly a week goes by – and certainly never a month – without our being forcibly reminded of the importance of corporate and personal reputations and of the often-uncontrollable chain of circumstances that can damage those reputations, sometimes irreparably. Since this book was published in early 2017, for example, United Airlines have stumbled into a reputational crisis by mishandling the (admittedly surprising) fact that one of their passengers was dragged bleeding and apparently unconscious from one of their planes by airport security staff for refusing to leave the plane after he had been randomly selected by computer as the sucker who was obliged to make room for airline staff on an ‘overbooked’ flight; and the chief executive of Barclays Bank has had his bonus cut and is facing investigation by regulators after apparently starting a witch hunt to uncover the identity of an internal whistle blower – thereby giving the impression that he is not entirely supportive of the whole concept of whistle blowing. The rights and wrongs of both cases are not the issue: the book reminds us that any corporation’s or individual’s public image is remarkably fragile and that, as the authors say, ‘reputational damage … can destroy solid, reputable organisations and end leaders’ careers.’

Who would have thought, after all, that the car manufacturer, Volkswagen (a solid and reputable corporation in that uniquely Germanic way), would run into a reputational crisis about illegal ‘defeat’ software hidden in its exhaust systems, designed to beat democratically imposed legislation to limit levels of toxins in exhaust fumes? Volkswagen’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn, was forced to resign, saying that he was “not aware of any wrongdoing on his part”; that the whole company was “shocked”; and that the trust of VW customers “was and would continue to be the company’s ‘most important asset’”.

All three of these statements go the heart of the book’s argument: very few leaders intentionally allow bad organisational behaviours; all organisations persuade themselves that everything they do is legal, safe and sociably acceptable; reputational trust is what gives any organisation its social license to operate. The loss of this trust is horribly expensive: the authors note that major corporations tend to lose between 30 and 40 percent of their share valuation in the wake of a major reputational crisis (VW lost 40% of its valuation after ‘dieselgate’).
The bad news is that the growth of social media has made the potential for stumbling into a major reputational disaster much greater: an issue that might have taken weeks or months to emerge in the pre-internet age, and then have fallen relatively quickly off the public’s radar, can now ‘go viral’ in a day (witness the United Airlines passenger being dragged apparently unconscious off the plane etc. etc. – don’t tell me you haven’t seen it). Once an event has gone viral, it tends to stay viral. Expect the news media to re-run the footage of our unconscious and bleeding United Airlines’ passenger every time the company features in the news for some time to come.

If you want to know more about the Volkswagen exhaust scandal and others you will find it here, in hair-raising but un-put-downable detail, alongside equally riveting accounts of BP’s 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion and the same company’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spillage; Tesco’s recent dodgy accountancy practices; insurance giant American International Group’s (AIG’s) unforeseen collapse in the lead-up to the 2007/08 financial crisis; and Barclay’s ‘Libor rigging’ scandal of the same period – along with other, equally eye-watering and knee-crossing accounts of major reputational disasters.

The book is worth reading for these accounts alone – these stomach-churning narratives remind us just how deluded we can be about the safeguards that we believe we have in place to prevent disaster. Fitzsimmons and Atkins remind us of the classic ‘three lines of defence’ that most companies believe to be securely in place: line managers are aware of, deal with, and report risk; central teams report these risks on up to the CEO’s office; independent auditors and the board of directors take a view on how these risks should be dealt with. Except it doesn’t work that way. The villain of the piece is communication, or the lack thereof.

As the authors painstakingly but entertainingly explore, it is a nonsense to imagine that risks are clearly identified and neatly and tidily relayed up some mythical chain of command. Some risks are seen as ‘normal’ and are not reported; people report other risks, but their managers don’t really hear what they are being told, or they underestimate or fail to understand the level of risk involved. Some managers effectively deter the reporting of bad news – the book references a piece by the Financial Times reporting that, under Volkswagen’s Winterkorn, ‘decision-making … was highly centralised and more junior managers were frightened to speak their mind.’ After the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, the official report bravely noted Japan’s ingrained cultural tendency to ‘reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to “sticking to the programme”; our groupism; and our insularity.' We are all guilty of these things. Anyone within an organisation is ‘captured’, to a greater or lesser extent, by the culture of that organisation – and the culture always assumes that everything is well and that no aspect of organisational behaviour is, in fact, inherently risky. It is surprisingly hard to ‘step outside’ our organisational cultures enough to see things clearly and objectively.
The authors detail the many sources of potentially risky organisational behaviour: culture and its accompanying ‘group-think’; communication in all its forms; incentives which can unwittingly drive risky behaviours; leader and board behaviour; strategy; complexity (the report into the 1979 accident at the US Three Mile Island nuclear generating station noted memorably that ‘complex systems fail in complex ways’).
The authors also give us, chapter by chapter, ‘Questions to Mull’ and a final invaluable ‘how to’ chapter on running an effective reputational risk management system.

If you only have time to read one business book this year, read this one. If you are a chief executive, give a copy to every member of your senior management team and to every member of the board (they will be grateful, and will enjoy the read). Doing this could help you to avoid a reputational crisis in the first place, or to avoid the most damaging repercussions of a crisis that jumps up and hits you unexpectedly in the face (every reputational crisis is unexpected). The first alternative is greatly more desirable. Be prepared; read this book.


Donner Guitar Tuner Clip on DT-2 Chromatic Digital Tuner Acoustic Guitars, Banjo, Ukulele, Violin, Bass
Donner Guitar Tuner Clip on DT-2 Chromatic Digital Tuner Acoustic Guitars, Banjo, Ukulele, Violin, Bass
Offered by Donnerdirect
Price: £4.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and precise, 5 Mar. 2017
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Very precise; the indicator shows if you're flat or sharp and when the screen lights up green, you're in tune.


Wireless Mouse, TeckNet Classic 2.4G USB Cordless Mice Optical PC Computer Laptop Mouse With 18 Month Battery Life, 2400 DPI 5 Adjustment Levels, Nano Receiver, 6 Buttons For Windows Mac Macbook Linux
Wireless Mouse, TeckNet Classic 2.4G USB Cordless Mice Optical PC Computer Laptop Mouse With 18 Month Battery Life, 2400 DPI 5 Adjustment Levels, Nano Receiver, 6 Buttons For Windows Mac Macbook Linux
Offered by Innovation Goal UK
Price: £6.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Mar. 2017
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Lovely mouse - perfect size; simple plug and play; great for everyday use but also gaming capability etc.


Frances Ha
Frances Ha
Dvd
Price: £4.49

1.0 out of 5 stars Unappealing New Yorkers bang on about their tedious lives at great length, 20 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Frances Ha (Amazon Video)
Unappealing New Yorkers bang on about their tedious lives at great length. Who cares? Shot in black and white, presumably in a desperate attempt to seem 'arty', which it ain't. Pointless and self-absorbed.


Enduring Love [DVD] [2004]
Enduring Love [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless plot changes and omissions turn an excellent novel into a plodding film that loses all of ..., 20 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Enduring Love [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Pointless plot changes and omissions turn an excellent novel into a plodding film that loses all of the tension and suspense of the original.


The Big Short
The Big Short
Dvd
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Have fun watching Wall Street bond traders crash the global financial system!, 20 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: The Big Short (Amazon Video)
Brilliant, enjoyable and compelling. Does a good job of explaining the mind bogglingly mad and bad Wall Street behaviour that led to the 2008 financial crash while staying taut as a good thriller. Asides to camera by Ryan Gosling's loveably appalling bond salesman/narrator and explanatory vignettes by real life celebrities (watch out for Margot Robbie in a bubble bath explaining the concept of subprime mortgages) get the essential financial information across by creating a knowing conspiracy with the viewer. Bale and Carell inhabit their dysfunctional characters with complete conviction. Clever use of sound and fast-cut imagery drive the film along with great pace and verve. I've watched the movie 3 times now ('Nothing on TV; lets watch The Big Short again'), enjoyed it every time and learned (or remembered) a little bit more each time. Can't say fairer than that.


The Trouble With Women
The Trouble With Women
by Jacky Fleming
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 April 2016
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This review is from: The Trouble With Women (Hardcover)
Lots of fun. A great present for the feisty feminist in your life.


The Art of Problem Solving: Accompanied by Ackoff's Fables: Accompanied by Ackoff's Fables
The Art of Problem Solving: Accompanied by Ackoff's Fables: Accompanied by Ackoff's Fables
by Russell L. Ackoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic work on creative problem solving, 11 April 2016
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A classic work about the 'creative' approach to problem solving - re-framing problems or questioning the basic assumptions that create the 'problem' in the first place. Slightly dated, though the nostalgic burst of baby-boomer optimism about our ability to fix the world's problems by the application of fresh thinking is refreshing.


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