Friday, September 16, 2011

How many people does it take to adjust a PC monitor?

OK, so this post is based on the running gag of changing light bulbs, but a Health and Safety (H&S) notice I recently read at a government building really does stagger belief and illustrates not only how bonkers H&S can get, but also how government really is wasting money.

So - the answer? By my reckoning, at least 8 people are needed in this government establishment to adjust a PC monitor.

And the reason for this is the following policy procedure that staff should follow if they feel that their workstation screen needs adjustment:

1) request an assessment from the Health & Safety office (1 admin person to take the call, 1 assessor to come out)

2) If there is found to be a need, this is reviewed by Occupational Health (1 admin person to take the call, 1 assessor to come out)

3) A request for the adjustment is then submitted by your line manager (1 person) to the IT department (1 admin person to take the call, 1 technician to come out)

4) The diversity officer should also be informed (1 officer to file a report)

Is it any wonder then why governments take so long to do anything and it costs us so much for them to do it when they do?

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Web 2.0 can learn from medieval co-ops

There seems to be an ongoing proliferation of e-commerce sites offering bulk-purchasing services (and savings) to small businesses and individuals (groupon, anyone?) – made possible thanks to the blessing that is the internet and social media (I thought I'd try one out – co-deal).

But do we really need so many? There are various trade bodies that already exis
t that have negotiated discounts on core services for their members (the Institute of Consulting can get you cheaper professional indemnity insurance, Co-operativesUK can get you free banking, and so so) – a model which is largely based on the old Medieval Guilds (an early co-op model).

And in the 1970s there was a surge of interest in people forming food buying groups, from which many worker co-ops were 'birthed' – a trend that's captured peoples' imagination again today.

Ultimately, all these bulk purchasing schemes (whether they be for small businesses like me, or householders – also like me!) are based on a co-op model and exhibit co-op values – empowering individuals to achieve together what they could not alone.

But the co-op model fell out of fashion during the 1970s and 1980s and is only really just starting to come back into mainstream society's consciousness – so I hope that all these new and emerging group buying schemes recognise that they're using a co-op model and look to this proud and historical movement for guidance in building new sustainable businesses that offer economic benefit to their members and users.