What did you say? – Solution! Why?

July 8, 2010

I’d like to nominate the word ‘solution’ as the most overused word in Australian business. It’s so overused that it is losing it’s real meaning.

 According to the very large Macquarie Dictionary on my desk, the word solution means “the act of solving a problem” and when used in that context (and a few others) it’s a really lovely word.

 However, you’ll find it splashed about on company websites and in most cases it doesn’t mean ‘the act of solving a problem”. It often means “we didn’t know what other word to use so we went with ‘solution’”. A lot of the time company’s are swerving away from the age old favourites like ‘product’ or ‘service’ and instead going with ‘solution’. I think they feel it has more oomph or something.

 So next time you go to type the word solution, just reflect briefly and think about what alternative and more appropriate word could be used instead. Reserve the word ‘solution’ for when you really mean ‘SOLUTION’.

 On a closing note my absolute unfavourite term for pairing with ‘solution’, is ‘end-to-end’ to make that awful and very meaningless term – ‘end-to-end solution’. Can someone please explain what that really means? Where is the end and where is the other end??????????????

 In case you’re wondering, the word ‘solution’ is also ‘solution’ in the French language (I’m currently learning the language of romance before embarking on a holiday) and I hope they don’t use it in the same way as we English-speakers! In any case it sounds much sexier when pronounced the French way.

 I’d love to hear from others who have found other words that rankle them. By the way I also have a few others but that can wait for another time.

 @Nicolar


Is there really a two year itch?

June 10, 2010

 Something I’ve begun to notice recently is that my younger colleagues (notice I didn’t called them the dreaded Gen Y) seem to be suffering from a two year itch. And, no I’m not talking about their relationships, but their length of employment.

 I know you’re probably thinking this is the biggest generalisation and of course it doesn’t apply to everyone but it’s something I’ve experienced recently when two of DRPR’s staff left at the same time and both had notched up two years service – almost to the day.

 In the 80s and 90s, five years in one job was considered the norm. I worked at Panasonic for five years in the mid to late 90s and this was followed by Dick Smith Electronics for more than three years. I know you’re all thinking that sounds like an eternity but you’d be surprised how quickly those years whizzed by.

 There are of course advantages and disadvantages to this two year phenomenon.

 From an employee’s perspective I suppose it keeps things interesting. You’re always finding new challenges, meeting new people, getting pay rises and adding to your resume. But it also means that you’re constantly taking yourself out of your comfort zone – just when you settle and get used to ‘how things are done around here’ – you’re off.

 From an employer’s perspective it means the business is constantly being disrupted but on the other hand there is fresh blood and ideas being injected. On the downside, it also means that employers become resigned to the fact that their staff will up and leave every two years and therefore won’t try very hard to retain them with bonuses and incentives. They also won’t nurture them as much with offers of training.

 I’d love to know if other people have experienced the same ‘two year itch’ phenomenon or am I just generalising.

 @Nicolar

 – Nicola Rutzou


Is corporate social responsibility really genuine for most organisations?

May 7, 2010

 

Sadly I think not. For most corporate social responsibility (CSR) is just a fancy term for what they were already doing in the first place.

Ultimately for most companies their main aim is to make money, and contributing to the society is way down their list of objectives. There are plenty of organisations who would have us believe they really ‘care’ but ultimately businesses aren’t capable of it.

The exceptions are a handful of companies that have CEOs who really believe that it will benefit their organisation to make a genuine contribution. If the CEO and other leaders are not on board then forget it. Managers lower down the food chain can have the best intentions but their efforts will ultimately be thwarted if the CEO is not a true believer.

We worked with a CEO who was a trailblazer in this area and I genuinely believe it benefited his organisation. His name is Grant Harrod and at the time he was the CEO of business products supplier Corporate Express. He’s since moved on from Corporate Express and I’m sure the new CEO feels as strongly as his predecessor and Grant’s legacy lives on. I’m sure that Grant Harrod has taken this philosophy and instilled it in his new role as CEO of Salmat.

In contrast I previously worked for another large high profile public company and at the time they did nothing to focus on CSR. The CEO was not interested in the subject and therefore the organisation payed less than lip-service to it. I think that’s shifted now with a change of CEO who has more of an interest in CSR. As a shareholder I have no problem with the company spending time and money making sure they have their corporate social responsibility in order.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has had a good or bad experience of CSR in Australia or around the world? Am I being cynical or not?

 @Nicolar


Who says we’re environmentally friendly??

April 6, 2010

 

Isn’t the term ‘environmentally-friendly’ such a cliché in the 21st century. When I was at school it would have been unheard of to discuss ‘the environment’ and to talk about the need to ‘save’ it.

Like so many clichés in modern society, so many of us just pay lip service to it. I actually find it somewhat perplexing that on one hand we talk about reuse, recycle and all that and yet we happily dispose of items from clothing right up to televisions, computers and mobile phones on a daily basis. I can only imagine how many of these types of items are sitting idle in homes all around Australia, because like me, no one wants to throw out items that still work!

I find it to be a huge contradiction that we talk about ‘saving’ the planet and yet we practically line up to get into the $2 shop to buy even more disposable ‘junk from China’. And yes, I’m just as guilty as the next person.

Our office is located in the shopping mecca of Chatswood and on my latest count there are at least six of these offending $2 shops. Even the sacred ‘upmarket’ Chatswood Chase now boasts one. It’s called something like ‘Homewares shop’ but one quick peak reveals itself as full of ‘junk from China’.

I have no idea what the answer to this conundrum is. I only know we can’t sustain it. If we are really going to get serious about saving our planet for future generations then we have to change our attitude to disposable goods.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on the subject. Am I overreacting or is a real issue?

@Nicolar


Where has our privacy gone????

February 26, 2010

 

I’m quite perplexed about the media coverage relating the supposed ‘fake’ passports of three Australians and many others that have been associated with a recent assassination.

I’m not confused about how passport forgeries have been used or indeed how three innocent people have reportedly had their identities ‘stolen’. What perplexes me is that many media outlets have published all the other details. 

Apparently the three Australians whose identities were stolen are not those pictured in the newspapers and in other media but the other details are correct. So the poor individuals have just had all other details printed like their full names, date of birth and place of birth. Isn’t that almost as bad as the people who ‘stole’ their identities in the first place?

The whole notion of privacy seems to have completely changed in the last decade or so.

I don’t want to sound like a fossil but I’m really wary of sharing any personal details and photographs with anyone and particularly publishing them on the Internet through Facebook or other channels. When I ask younger people many of them don’t seem to share my apprehension.

To me it’s very ‘big brother is watching’ and I don’t feel comfortable. I even shred documents at home with my details on them before I put them into the recycling. Am I too careful?

I’d love to hear from anyone on this topic. It actually concerns me a lot that this notion of privacy seems to have gone astray.

 Nicola Rutzou

@NicolaR


The many uses of Twitter

January 22, 2010

 

I’m constantly being asked by friends, family and colleagues – What is the point of Twitter? To be frank I actually thought the same thing when it was first introduced to me.

I couldn’t work out why anyone would want to know about the mundane aspects of my life! I still hold to that philosophy but I can now see both a business and social application for the ever popular Twitter.

Businesses that use Twitter well are those that use it both to disseminate information but also to respond to customers queries. Telstra Bigpond is one company that comes to mind. @BigpondTeam I suggest you give them a try if you are having any service issues. Just tweet about your issue and see how fast they respond.

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The Year of the Tiger

January 6, 2010

 

I overheard two business colleagues speaking late last year in a networking session. The first one said across the table “It’s the year of the tiger next year, isn’t it?”. The second one who happens to be of Chinese descent agreed and from that moment onwards I knew 2010 was going to be a great year.

If you’ve looked at the DRPR website you’ll notice that it features a tiger and although it started out as a design element, over time we’ve adopted it as our mascot. Hence I was extremely excited when I found out that we are about to enter the year of the tiger.

From a revenue perspective we had a pretty difficult second half of 2009 and are completely focused on 2010 and the possibilities it is already bringing us.

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