Deflation. Lasted for one month. Just. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) went from -01 in April, the lowest for fifty-five years, to +0.1 in May. The major concern of Government and budgeters was that businesses and consumers would delay purchases and investment and create falling demand and prices. But wages in the UK rose faster than predications and unemployment remained at a seven-year low. These two factors and a strong sterling point to higher prices. Inflation is unlikely to be the cause of economic difficulties. The cost of food fell 1.7% in May, compared to last year. Big ticket items went down 2.5%. Citibank suggests it is reasonable to assume low inflation (0.3%?) this year and 1.3%(?) next.
MEPs and boredom. Renaud Honoré in Les Echos (Paris) and The Week says we should be sorry for new Members of the European Parliament. They are ‘bored’. Their hopes for an exciting future are not coming to fruition. The ‘Europhobes’ were encouraged by the successes of Eurosceptic parties in 2014 and thought they would be able to paralyse proceeding of the European Union. But they are so fragmented they lack even ‘nuisance power’. Their only achievement has been to bring a censure motion against Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. This move related to alleged corrupt behaviour when he was prime minister of Luxembourg. It was defeated overwhelmingly. Those MEPs who wish to extend the responsibilities of the European parliament thought the new President would give them more say. Not so. The Commission listens to governments, not powerless MEPs. The endless resolutions and reports - for example, on Greece and Ukraine - end up on the proverbial shelf. The Commission’s appetite for regulation has waned, also. MEPs’ biggest challenge right now is finding things to do.
Cash downwards. Figures from the UK Payments Council reveal that transactions through cash fell below 50% in 2014. The continuous increase in credit and debit cards and other non-cash payments have overtaken spending by notes and coins. The Payments Council estimates that cash-based transactions will fall to less than 30% by 2020. The Republic of Ireland has given notice of its intentions to avoid cash.
Reward poor performance? The Chartered Management Institute’s recent survey of managers’ salaries covered 317 organisations with 72,206 employees. Its results confirmed suspicions that poor performers have continued to receive a bonus. 48% met expectations/targets, 30% did not. 45% of underperforming senior managers were paid a bonus in 2014. Overall, managers’ basic salaries are rising ahead of inflation. The blunt truth is likely to be that it is easier to reward poor results than to face difficult corrective direction/action. Change has to start at the top.
Stupid question? No. Researchers at Harvard Business School and The Wharton School have concluded that those people who ask for help are regarded as more, rather than less, competent. The new study suggests reluctant questioners commonly believe colleagues and contacts expect them to be more knowledgeable than they are. The report’s authors float the idea that this is a particular obstacle for new employees. Often they are unclear what is expected from their work. Professor Francesca Gino says, ‘Seeking advice encourages exchange of information, learning and meaningful connection between people. And it creates a surprising positive impression for our mentors.’ Maybe an approach of this kind ought to be built into internal communications?
Customer-share. Getting a bigger share of customers’ expenditure is getting serious attention at last. There has to be a disciplined method for discovery. This emphasises answers to crucial questions:
what drives this customer’s performance?
what is this customer’s strategy?
what major issues face this customer?
what is your presence with this customer?
how can you and this customer combine goals?
what is the top-to-top relationship with this customer?
So there. ‘Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, not whether what we are saying is true.’ Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). English philosopher and mathematician.
Of course. ‘I am the most spontaneous speaker in the world because every word, every gesture, and every retort has been carefully rehearsed.’ George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). Irish dramatist and critic.