Monday, April 29, 2019

Winning in The Fourth Revolution (Part I)

In response to a few requests I’m going to outline the skills and competences I believe companies, big or small, should be focusing on to make sure they survive, and indeed thrive in The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

First some context.  For many years I have been convinced that we live in a VUCA World.  A world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.  A world where Purpose and Executional Excellence have replaced strategy as the killer apps.  A world where Leadership is at a premium.

2019–20 sees VUCA 2.0.  Yes the world will remain Volatile, Uncertain, Complex (Brexit is the posterchild for VUCA) but ambiguous is being replaced by Accelerating.

VUCA on steroids.  Why?
1.    Politically we are seeing the end of the American Age, the rise and rise of China, confusion in the Euro block, a more and more emboldened Russia, a navel gazing West, continued tensions in the Middle East and the rising tide of nationalism, extremism, autocracy and polarisation.
2.    Socially, cyber-terrorism and cyber-criminals rule.  Society is becoming increasingly concerned about privacy and stress caused by the weapons of mass distraction and jobs are disappearing because of advanced technology.
3.    Economically we are facing accelerating disruption from FANG (Facebook, Amazon/Apple, Netflix, Google), vast new venture capital funding with a winner takes most world.
4.    Technology-wise we are seeing scientific acceleration driving change faster than many individuals and institutes can handle.

Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution …:
The First      -  water/steam mechanised production,
The Second  -  electric power creates mass production,
The Third     -  digital automates at speed,
The Fourth   -  technologies fuse and blur the lines between physical and digital.

How do we survive and thrive?

More next week.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Summer’s Coming

I wrote about the Summer of ’65 in my recent post in praise of Cher.  Two years later was another great Summer.  I was 18 years old, with a beautiful new born Nicola Jane (Nikki) and head ‘n heels in love with my first love Barbara (Nikki’s Mum).

Michael Joseph published Summer with Monika by Roger McGough – and didn’t have enough faith in Roger’s poems so they twinned them with a short novel he’d written called ‘Frinck, a Life in the Day of’ about a young man who goes to London to seek fame and fortune.  (The story inspired me so much I did just that a short time afterwards – more about that some other time.)

Summer with Monika was the book I read every day for three glorious months.

“They say the sun shone now and again,
but it was generally cloudy
with far too much rain.
They say babies were born,
married couples made love,
(often with each other)
and people died
(sometimes violently).

They say it was an average ordinary moderate
run-of-the-mill common or garden Summer
… but it wasn't.

For I locked a yellow door
and I threw away the key.
And I spent Summer with Monika
and Monika spent Summer with me.”

Monika gave Frinck the slip in 1978.  Whizzard Press published Roger’s poems on their own with a wonderful cover and illustrations by Peter Blake – of Sgt Pepper LP cover fame – but many High St bookshops thought the cover of a girl sunbathing naked on a bed was too explicit, so didn’t stock it (the Swinging Sixties?).

Penguin republished Summer with Monika in 1990 – with a ‘softer’ Blake cover and a 4th edition hit the shelves in 2017 to celebrate Monika’s 50th anniversary.

I have copies of all four editions in my collection and reread the book this weekend on a lonesome, Livin’ Life Slow Sunday in Grasmere – in love with Trudy – and still lovin’ life.

“Our love has become as nice
as a cup of tea in bed.
As simple as something the baby said.”

Here’s to Summer 2019.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019


I’ve spent a lifetime in Sports.

As a player (Rugby, Soccer, Tennis, Track and Field, Table-Tennis), a Coach (Rugby) and Administrator (New Zealand All Blacks, USA Rugby, New Zealand Soccer, North Harbour Rugby, Team New Zealand Yachting).

Five years ago I completed my second four year term as Chairman of USA Rugby, and in line with Governance terms, stepped down.  I decided to take a break after 30 years non-stop in the admin roles mentioned above – and just enjoy being an All Black and Manchester City Fan.  Now I’m back!!

This week we’ll be announcing that I’ve joined the Board of Wigan Athletic Football Club in The Championship, England’s second tier where three clubs are promoted each year into the Premiership.

Wigan (The Latics) were founded 87 years ago in 1932.  They spent eight years in the Premier League – from 2005 – 2013, and won the 2012-13 FA Cup Final beating my beloved Manchester City 1/0 at Wembley.  (The Latics knocked City out of the Cup again (in 2014) and again(!) in 2018.)  I forgive them.  They are a proud working class Lancashire team, less than 40 miles away from my home town of Lancaster.

On November 2 2018, International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) Hong Kong bought the Club, stadium and training facilities.

The new Board had its inaugural meeting last week, under Darren Royle’s Executive Chairmanship.  Darren’s Dad – Joe, ex Man City player/manager, and Everton/England legend, is on the Board alongside CEO Jonathan Jackson, IEC rep Thomas Chan and yours truly.

We’ve started by developing, with the Club’s leadership team, a new Purpose on a Page for the Club.

Our Dream:  To bring European Football to Wigan.
Our Focus:   To win Football matches.
Our Spirit:   We Are Wigan.

We are currently 19th in the Championship.  A league of 24 teams where three are relegated each year.

Eight games to go this season.

We must win at least two.

A lot to do.

Watch this space.


Friday, April 5, 2019

In Praise of Older Women (well, one in particular)

I danced and sang along with Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’ at the Vale of Lune on Saturday nights, at the Central Pier in Morecambe and at St Martins Teachers’ Training College with Barbara, Elspeth and the girls of Lancaster Girls Grammar School.  It was the Summer of 1965.  I was 16 and in love – with life.  53 years later I still am – and I’m still singing (the dancing’s died I’m afraid) and so is the fabulous Cher.  She just kicked off her first tour in five years – featuring wigs, high camp glam, aerialists, old videos with Sonny and an Abba medley from her 2018 blockbuster Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.  She opened the tour with “I’m happy to be here.  Just one question.  What is your Granny doing tonight?”.

Trudy and I saw her show in Vegas six years ago on her last time out.  The place was jumping.

No-one has had a career like hers.  A hippy, mini-skirted Sonny Bono creation in the 60’s, a TV sensation in the loopy Sonny & Cher TV show in the 70’s, number one hits in the 80’s, disco in the 90’s and a never-ending farewell tour since then.  She got into every music trend along the way – marrying Greg Allman for nine days, that bizarre 1975 Young Americans / Oldies with David Bowie on TV – yes, The Beat Goes On.

And for all of us oldies, Cher carries the torch with “If I could turn back time”.

Good on y’a Babe.