Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sod's law

The law of sod definitely kicks in with a fiersome vengeance during the summer months.

I did a job for a new client back in June/early July and agreed terms that would see payment in a few days. A PO was raised and I was asked to bill against it as I went along.

I duly did so. Almost eight weeks on, one invoice was settled today, one has been rejected and the biggest one was indeed paid out a couple of weeks a totally different company.

So, the net result for me is a morning wasted with ping-pong phone calls - and seemingly a reliance on the company which received the funds in error to return them to my client before they can pay me.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do qualifications matter?

I'm in the midst of an interesting day's interviewing. So far, I've been fixing up interviews with the female finance director of a truck company and one of CNBC's anchors here in the UK. I've also interviewed an HRD with 40 years' experience in the NHS and will soon be interviewing a current Health Service HRD. I'll finish my round of interviews by speaking to Walt Cunningham, the last surviving member of the first Apollo mission - Apollo 7, which launched, coincidentally, almost 40 years ago.

Meanwhile I've interviewed the CEO of a District council and will soon be interviewing the Deputy CEO of a Moscow-based investment bank about how their ACA qualifications (to become Chartered Accountants) have influenced their careers.

Both have eschewed traditional finance roles and have built strong commercial careers but have built from the basis of a strong professional qualification.

This is something that internal communication has never had - and something I've been driving for throughout my career.

For IC to be taken seriously within business and to have status alongside marketing, HR, and other complementary business skills, we need accredited professional development underpinned by rigorous examination - we need a CIPD/CIM specifically for Internal Communications. Until then, we will always be seen as a sub-function of some other discipline.

There's a poll running on the CIB website asking 'How important is a professional qualification in internal communications to you?' At the time of writing, it's depressing to note that only 7.9% see it as vital, while almost a quarter rate it as not important.

If we are to raise standards and orientate IC so that it is a valuable and valued business function, CEOs should be demanding professional qualifications from their communicators; HRDs should be recruiting on the basis of these qualifications and communicators should be differentiating themselves from the pack by excelling in an accredited environment.

The big problem at the moment is that the qualifications don't yet exist. I've got a BAIE Certificate in Industrial Editing and a BACB Diploma in business communications from the early 90s - but the qualifications don't exist any more and were far too focused on business journalism anyway.

Today's communicator needs to have a commercial understanding of business; an understanding of a balance sheet and how to interpret business strategy; an eye of the market around them and a knowledge of what motivates employees to achieve for their organisation. The core skills around making words and images work are a give; they're the start point not the end point for a n internal communications career today.

CiB is changing and evolving, but if it wants to be the organisation for IC professionals, it has to grab the accredited development mantle, and grab it fast - and it has to build an understanding among its members of why professional qualifications need to become a 'must have' not a 'nice to have' for the industry.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A glass raised to Ronnie Drew

When I was a little lad, I spent virtually all of my holidays in Killincarrig Co. Wicklow in Ireland, normally in the company of my grandad, Paddy Dowdall.

We had a mid-morning ritual which took one of two forms. We'd either walk down to Delgany to the Wicklow Arms for a jar, or take a walk in the opposite direction to Greystones. My grandad had been the greenkeeper - and a very fine player - at Delgany Golf Club and seemed to know everyone in and around Greystones and the surrounding villages. He still looked after the gardens of some of the big houses on the edge of the town, so we'd often stop in to one or another where there'd generally be a strong cup of tea for him, and a glass of milk and a Kimberley biscuit for me.

Then it was on to Paddy's for a packet of smokes before studying the form at the local bookies next door. With a few small bets laid, it'd be over the road to the Burnaby for a pint or two for my grandad, and a red lemonade and a bag of Tayto crisps for me. A short while later, we'd be back in the bookies to pick up any winnings. If grandad had picked the right nags, we'd travel home on the 84 bus. If not, it'd be a mile and a half walk.

I suppose I'd have been about four or five at the time, so we're talking about the late '60s. At that age, I was a bit precocious, although it was not too long before an enveloping shyness set in which crippled me socially through to my mid-teens.

But as a fresh faced and cheeky five year old, my grandad could normally rely on me to entertain his drinking pals by standing up on the bar and telling jokes or singing a song.

Now one of those pals went by the name of Ronnie Drew a fine musician and actor and singer with the Dubliners. Now Irish folk music of the raucous, rumbustious nature of the Dubs was in vogue at the time, and though I didn't know it, Black Velvet Band, Dublin in the Green, The Irish Rover and McAlpine's Fusiliers which I'd belt out in boy treble fashion were all Dubliners' staples, and the man with the big beard looking on and quietly chuckling had made them famous.

On Tuesday they laid Ronnie in the ground after he died at the age of 73. It was probably the biggest gathering of the great and the good of Irish music and theatre in Greystones' history.

I saw the Dubliners pay a few times over the years at venues as diverse at the Wembley Conference Centre and the Woodlands in Greystones but I probably never spoke to Ronnie after I turned about seven. That was 37 years ago, but the memories of my walks with my grandad, punctuated by red lemonade, kimberley biscuits and a tune on the bar are among my sweetest.

Monday, August 18, 2008

14 days - no computer....and I'm chilled

I'm back working today....sort of....after two weeks of Cyprus sun.

We stayed on a five star resort - definitely the subject for a separate posting when I'm more awake - and the sun shone, and shone, and shone.

For the first time in eight years I left my laptop at home and didn't even splash out the 10 Euro a day to use the in-room Internet facility. So I came back to 759 emails today...of which about 150 were actually worth reading, and, following an overnight flight, have spent this afternoon slowly coming back up to speed.

I'm tired now, but relaxed too and actually looking forward to getting stuck into work properly tomorrow.

Holiday time has to be downtime: time to unwind and leave work far, far away. It has really worked for me this time round. The world didn't crash and burn; the work's still out there and life moved effortlessly on without me having to check out emails on the hour every hour.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

You know you're getting old....

...when you could have fathered most of the football team you turn up to support.

Today was Wycombe Wanderers' last pre-season fixture before the new League 2 campaign starts next week. It was also the game closest to Sophie's birthday - she turns eight on Wednesday - so it was a pleasure to take her to the match as mascot for the day.
Now this was a low-key friendly, with a crowd of no more than 1,000, played in warm summer sunshine.
Wanderers lost 2-1, but my youngest didn't care, proudly striding out with Captain, David McCracken before the start, having taken part in the warm up, and spent about an hour kicking the ball around on the pitch.
All the players seemed big and old to her - they seemed terribly young to me. Most were half my age or younger. I felt extremely ancient - but was a very proud dad today.