Tag: travel

Are we sailing….we are sailing

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Sailing as a metaphor for our lives and work and organisations came up twice recently…
First from a mate who has been learning to sail: “it is a nice metaphor – you are at the mercy of the wind, with a degree of choice and skill mixed in”
And second, remembering some work 10 years ago on a Journey Planner (a large table top diagram – see p 10 and 11 here) for a more recent example that took sailing as its metaphor: We may know our ultimate destination and desired direction. Whilst we need to be focused on our overall vision and ultimate goal at all times we must also be prepared to continually adjust and amend what we are doing minute by minute and day by day as we tack and turn due to the changing circumstances around us.

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Quiet carriages – surprise!

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A bit of a surprise this morning – the loud ringing of a mobile phone and a long conversation on an early train journey.

The arrival of quieter journeys (and restaurants) has crept up on us – despite our increased connectivity with dongles, BB, iPhones

Texting and social media are now the order of the day – even for many oldies

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Getting through the snow (safely)

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Canada snow

As it feels like Spring has sprung (at least in Cambridge), a recent trip to Canada prompted some reflection on the comparisons with the UK travel system in the snow a couple of months back.

First, in Canada there is a huge investment in path and road clearing (see picture).  So much so that one much-travelled colleague says he has only been cancelled twice when flying from Ottawa. There, as here, freezing rain is the biggest disruption.

Second, there is more use of concrete in pavements and roads (though there are still some pot holes!).

Third, and the most striking difference, when the pavements are slippery (and they were) and the roads icy, people simply get on with moving about – not because trips to work or social events are easy, but because they just go slowly.

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What and where is ‘typical’?

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Where do you see a typical cross-section of people in a nation?

In friendship groups – too like each other?

At an airport – too biased to those with money?

At the post office?  Probably not.

What about at a supermarket – depends which one?

A motorway service station?  Hmmm possibly…

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Fancy a flat white? You’ve had to wait a while…

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Flat white coffeeThe flat white coffee was invented in Auckland (or Sydney depending on who you ask) in the late 1980s.

Twenty years later, it is now being popularised in the UK by Costa (though they don’t quite do it like the attached shot from an independent coffee shop in Sydney).

Innovations can take a surprisingly long time to spread.

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Bigger than you think

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7-ElevenIt is interesting what you notice when travelling.

7-Eleven is not a brand we see much in the UK any more, with Tesco, M&S, Spar and others occupying most of the convenience store market now.

However, in Australia and Bangkok the 7-Eleven brand is pretty much ubiquitous – often with a couple on the same city street.

Reading here you can find a little of the story that makes this franchise the biggest in the world.




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Unlocking the value of old designs

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Airmail envelope

A (largely) defunct innovation: the airmail envelope.

Yet instantly recognisable to those of a certain age.

Now a useful way to share seeds from the garden.

What else could this evocative design be used for?

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On the train #2

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On the train.

I see an old contact.

Maybe he could become a new client.

I think of approaching him.

Then he puts his feet on the seats, and starts moving in ways that disturb those around him.

And begins eating an unbelievably smelly item of food. 

I decide to leave it.

We all choose who we work with?  Do we choose well?  Are these valid reasons?

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A local point of view

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Having just come back from working in Borneo, I now see another side to the easy-to-knock palm oil industry.  There, people are concerned about development.  A palm oil plantation is regarded much like a cultivated valley in the west.  The impact on the orangutans is regretted and in some ways ameliorated with local support for sanctuaries. But it is not the primary concern when human material issues are at stake.

EU policies on bio-fuel from palm oil and for the oils used in cooking impact not just on the profits of trans-national corporations but also the livelihoods of peasant farmers (see article). 

 Palm oil

Complex stuff.  Not just about Nestle and Kit Kats.

In Kenya a couple of years ago, the local press also helped me see there are other points of view on:

1) using corn in the US for bio-fuel. Surely a good thing – but less grain available as food aid in areas where people are starving as a result of drought.

2) the pros as well as the cons of poor farmers flying green beans and flowers to Europe, including the low energy and pesticides required in their forms of agriculture.

All our points of view are local – so it’s worth travelling to find a different way of looking at things.

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Ash cloud – what’s your reaction?

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Well the ash cloud is interrupting flights again. We are struck by the many alternative responses that people give to this:

– compassion for the shattered dreams of those wishing to travel (an important business meeting delayed, a postponed wedding, a funeral missed, a much needed holiday lost)

– delight at the reduction in carbon emissions from grounded jets

– awe at our human futility in the face of natural wonder

– anger at “health and safety gone mad”

– frustration at our collective impotence reinforced and our insignificance historically as well as environmentally

– worry at where this will end if other volcanoes erupt.

 What’s your reaction? Which is the one that is most helpful do you think?

When something frustrating happens today, try to see as many different ways of looking at it as you can.  What are the hypotheses that might make that behaviour of a colleague frustrating?  What are you finding difficult in that meeting?

You might find you can change your reaction.

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