Carillion and Ted Welch

A few years ago, I was lucky to meet a Gentleman; lucky, because I think that, in the passage of grey hair that I’ve acquired, I haven’t met many, and this man resonates with my soul.

He’s called Ted, Ted Welch, an East London man, now 76 yrs age, who grew up in poverty and austerity and built his own successful garage business in Leytonstone to employ over 15 men and one of who’s proudest moments was to collect the Queen’s Rolls Royce from Buckingham Palace in London and deliver it to the Royal Yacht Britannica, in Scotland.

The same man who, he tells me, used to look out of his school window and fret when the rain came down because his shoes had no soles and he used to slip sheets of paper into them so that he could walk home without his feet becoming wet.

There are of course,and I say that without sanguine, many such children the world over who have passed along the same footpath (sic) as Ted; I was lucky, one of the fortunate I guess, my father and family were comfortable, a position which today I respect and admire my father for, and along with that, question my own ability, to reach his standards.

In measuring my success or failure, I try to imbue the lessons learnt into my own two boys, my treasures as I call them, but as I write, why the soliloquy about Ted? -Well, perhaps a little context.

Ted, is what I what I would call a “Petrolhead”, whatever the car, the engine, the plane, the pump, the Meccano set or spanner, Ted is there, in bliss, with a smile, a kindred spirit indeed, but it’s not that makes him the Gentleman, it’s his personae and his attitude and his reverence to others, irrespective of their background or creed; I believe in an attitude personified in Aretha Franklin “Respect”

We have a lot to learn from the older generation. I’ve recently finished reading a book of short stories by the late A.A Gill, more anon, and he writes with piercing truth about how we engage with our elders, or rather fail too; we have a lot to learn as we travel, in our so called, modern, society.

Ted brings it home to me when I talk to him; it’s not a high brow philosophical discussion about the temporal things or the topical discussions about Brexit, the dollar exchange, the Bosnian crisis or even what even Bernini was thinking when he sculptured his Damned Soul, it’s more grounded, more tangible, more real, for me.” Have you spoken to you Mother this week?

The questioning comes with a jolt sometimes. I’ve commented before, on the desire to wear the latest fashion icon, drive the latest car and wear the sharpest suit, perhaps it’s my older age where the “stuff” just doesn’t matter any more and a sharpness of focus is acquired about what really is of value in life.

I often leave visiting Ted with a sense of Xmas future, wondering and questioning if what I do in my Consultancy practice is indeed of value, if indeed I have led, enlightened and bettered those that I serve?; I hope that I do, I try to; I hope that one day, I too, can perhaps, in my own vain, egotistical way, be also looked up to as one who tried to be a Gentleman upon this earth.

The auditors who served the Carillion Directors and their forefathers before, in serving Enron, Tyco and Worldcom were no different to those who served a local SME company to me, who’s Directors were betrayed over eight years and £80,000 by their trusted Bookkeeper- as Ted asked…. “How much did they pay them to do their job?”

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Gravity Racers & Student Engineering

A number of years ago I was approached by a local Technology & Design teacher, David Ackroyd, (brother of John Ackroyd, the Thrust SSC designer) seeking sponsorship to build a Gravity Soapbox race kart; the objective was to encourage students into engineering.

Along with other local companies, I duly obliged and the result was the “Nimbus”, rather generously, named after my own business, which, when it wasn’t out racing or at school, we proudly displayed in our reception.

The kart went onto gain sponsorship from Vauxhall Motors, was raced at Goodwood, featured on C5 “The Gadget Show” and shown across the UK gaining, along the way, the land speed record of over 100kmph at Eastborne, a record still held today.

I caught sight of the local news recently and delighted that David’s idea has flourished, his partner suppliers has grown and the number of schools now involved exceeds over 200.

I grew up surrounded by boxes of Meccano and the sounds of Mothers exclamations as she hoovered up yet another set of misplaced screws from the carpet.

Today my love of all things mechanical and engineering based is undiminished and from a commercial and economic point I see the need for engineering and manufacturing support with equal passion.

If your local school or perhaps your own business, would like to get involved, then I’m sure that David would be delighted to hear from you.

Links here:

Have a great weekend!

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, Engineering, Gravity Racer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Simple Tale of Slippers and Batch Control

So who would like a laugh at my expense?

On Wednesday I bought a new pair of slippers – nothing of particular interest except that they were too tight.

Quick check of the label said they were my size- “I’ll let them stretch a little”.. but alas it soon became apparent that they had been incorrectly labelled.

I mused whilst standing at the returns desk as to where in the manufacturing process the error had been introduced.

At this point I must have had brain fade because I exchanged them for the next size up-logical right?

Nope! I now flip flop around the house with a pair that are too big.

So a lesson for Carr – back to Go, past QC, do not collect £200, and remember to collect your books on SPC on your way there lol!

I guess the lesson learnt is don’t assume that you know root cause and propose a solution until you know all of the facts.

Anyone want to buy a nearly new pair of slippers – size extra-large?

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John Clarke RIP

Well no sooner had I posted the previous short piece mentioning the brilliant satirist John Clarke, then news reached me that he has died .

Apparently whilst out bush-walking in Victoria he died from natural causes . He was aged 68.

Thank you John for your brilliance and humour. RIP.

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#PM Brexit Letter# Understanding Grexit

So today, our Prime Minister, signed the letter that will inform the EU of our intention to leave the European Union.

The events leading up to today have been a colourful twist of hyperbole, dis-information, naievity and political snakes and ladders inter-twined with cliques and cabals, a play out, worthy of the Bard himself rising to script this masterpiece for the 21st Century.

Where it leaves us, is firmly in our own hands, the ultimate in self actualisation in a global economy we’ve done it before and delivered handsomely, albeit we might need to blow the cobwebs off that particular book.

We now have a different generation at the helm of GB PLC, one unfettered by constrictive practices and a recalcitrant workforce. As a lean advocate, I think that stripping away bureaucracy and maybe even walking away from toxic EU debt cannot be anything but a good thing and it has certainly forced a re-think of strategy.

From what I read in my daily  news, what appears to have emerged is a healthy realisation of opportunity tempered with pragmatism – would it be anything less? perhaps not but it should certainly galvanise a call to action, to lift our heads and think, really seriously about where our future business is going to come from – wasn’t it Benjamin Franklin who is quoted as saying ” Failing to plan is planning to fail”

I’ll leave with a more light-hearted perspective at the European position as admirably discussed by Clarke & Dawe. – Enjoy!

The Greek Economy


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Economic Insight for Informed Business Decisions

I’ve commented before on the availability of economic and industry data reports from the banks. If you haven’t already subscribed for these reports I do recommend them to you.

The reports are not just to aid you when you start thinking about refreshing your annual Operating Plan but also act as a radar, alerting you to events that perhaps you hadn’t thought about.

I’ve just signed up for a selection of reports that I think may be of value for my Clients, I’ll keep an eye on them for salient points.

Have a look, see what you think- as ever, happy to discuss them with you.

This link is for Lloyds Bank but of course other banks also provide them as well.



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“We’ve Just Engineered a Tool for Delivering Stem Cells, Mid Brain”

The statement above was quietly delivered by a Dr Stone, a Clinical Scientist at Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge. at a presentation that I attended last night.

I sat amongst the audience and took in what he had just said; the capability to engineer such a tool, how and why it was to be used and the impact upon someone’s life I felt, was quite breath taking.

In our Corporate World we indulge ourselves in our power statements, the big car, the nice suits and of course the de-rigueur latest technology, because we’re really important aren’t we?

I felt that the statement last night firmly pulled and re-aligned, my carpet, underneath me.

Earlier in the year I had read a book by Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh entitled “Do No harm” and I had the same feeling of awe and it has left a vacuum in my thoughts – a vacuum because I’m tumbling with my thoughts as to where I could contribute, where I could leave a footprint? and I don’t say that from a centric or corporate social responsibility point of view either; it’s a grumbling I’ve had for a while.

If you want to know more about Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, take a moment to look at this web link, I’m sure you will find it as humbling as I did and perhaps in your busy day it might make you ponder as well.

Have a good and thoughtful day.

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The Bhagavad Gita

Searching for a book for my recent long haul trip, my wife rather appropriately, suggested The Bhagavad-Gita, a series of Hindu spiritual readings relating to life on earth.

There was one particular story that caught my eye, entitled – The Graduation Test.

The story relates to military training and how each student was tasked with firing a single arrow at the head of a wooden eagle placed on a nearby tree.

The question was asked of each student “Get ready, look at the eagle, and tell me what you are seeing.”

To which they replied “I see the sky, the clouds, the tree trunk, the branches, the leaves and the eagle sitting there”

One student answers “I only see the eagle and nothing else”

When he shot his arrow he landed true and successfully passed his test

The summation of the teaching is that whatever you are doing, put your whole mind on it; if you’re shooting, your mind should be only on the target, then you will never miss.

That’s what we do…… right?…

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Are Your Profits under Threat?

I note from this week’s Sunday papers that Ernest Young Accountants, reported that profit warnings were at their highest since the 2008 crisis.

The comment is made that “many UK companies still face sluggish, disrupted and competitive forces with Brexit adding further layers of challenge but also opportunity”

So what question is being posed? – Well in my language, I guess the question is “are you doing enough in your capacity as a Director or Senior Manager to address your future profits?”

In our day-to-day work we become absorbed in shifting metal, processing the order, chasing the cash, dealing with staff issues, but what are we doing strategically to position and react to the competitive environment; what initiatives are you driving, this year, to improve your performance?

I’ll leave you with that thought this morning; pick up the phone if you’d like to investigate further – without any pressure.


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CPD – Business Analyst Certification

Shifting boxes in the loft is great fun isn’t it? –banging your head on the beams and scratching with the loft insulation, but sometimes it is enjoyable as you unpack, long forgotten boxes, wondering why you put them there in the first place and then like an excited kid unwrap them like a kid at Xmas.

Ok maybe the last bit isn’t quite true but my surprises were equally felt – files of my old MBA notes from many a year ago. My fear was that my essays might be youthful and pretentious, t’was after all the era of shoulder pads and red braces, but no, I’m glad to say, I felt they read lucidly.

It was poignant finding them because I wanted to start an MSc in Engineering Mngt at my old University of Warwick and it jolted me as to the amount of commitment and time that it took.

A change of plan and a desire not to live in a hotel for five nights a week meant that the Msc has been put on hold but that still leaves a quandary as to what CPD I should undertake this year.

I went browsing and in line with pursuing my lean systems thinking, I have enrolled for my IIBA Exam

Initially flicking through the course work I thought to myself “oh I’d forgotten that – this will be easy………” but it’s funny how time creeps up on you and although I thought I already knew the subject matter, it is interesting to be disciplined again in approaching it – somewhat like having a Consultant question your strategy – right? 🙂

What have you got on the list for your CPD this year?

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