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Snowdon

Next week is the biggest filming challenge yet for the Marton House film crew as we are off to climb a mountain, Snowdon to be exact.  With The Platform being at the pinnacle of sales training it only seems right to go that extra mile in order to film something that little bit different.

Obviously sending a bunch of wheezing film makers to climb a mountain by themselves would quite possibly end in disaster, luckily however our interview subject, Clay Lowe is a highly experienced mountaineer and he has vowed to keep us from doing silly things – like for example dangling myself over a ledge to get that perfect shot!

If you haven’t visited Clay’s blog before I heartily recommend you do so as it’s a haven for new thinking, and you know how we like new thinking around here.

Which brings me nicely to this extract from Clay’s new book that he has kindly sent us, which challenges the way we think.

I think walking up a big hill with a full camera kit on your back is challenging enough without having to think about it too 🙂

Enjoy.

Everybody knows the world is flat

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. . . . There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.  Alan Cohen

I enjoy challenging my clients to question their thinking.  We are so skilled at our thinking that we don’t think about our thinking.  We accept the thoughts we have as gospel and do not challenge the perceptions that drive them.  We think we know that when “x” happens, the only consequence or answer is always and only “z” because we have already had that experience.  We collapse the wave of other possibilities without first examining them to see what other outcomes are possible.  Here are some famous examples of collapsing the wave of possibilities:

•    This `telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a practical form of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. – Western Union internal memo, 1878

•    Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value. – Editorial in the Boston Post (1865)

•    [Television] won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night. – Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, 1946.

•    A new source of power… called gasoline has been produced by a Boston engineer. Instead of burning the fuel under a boiler, it is exploded inside the cylinder of an engine. The dangers are obvious. Stores of gasoline in the hands of people interested primarily in profit would constitute a fire and explosive hazard of the first rank. Horseless carriages propelled by gasoline might attain speeds of 14 or even 20 miles per hour. The menace to our people of vehicles of this type hurtling through our streets and along our roads and poisoning the atmosphere would call for prompt legislative action even if the military and economic implications were not so overwhelming… the cost of producing gasoline is far beyond the financial capacity of private industry… In addition the development of this new power may displace the use of horses, which would wreck our agriculture. – U. S. Congressional Record, 1875

•    …no possible combination of known substances, known forms of machinery, and known forms of force, can be united in a practical machine by which man shall fly long distances through the air… – Simon Newcomb (1835-1909), astronomer, head of the U. S. Naval Observatory

•    Computers in the future may…perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons. – Popular Mechanics, 1949.

•    There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home. – Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

Where would be if no one had challenged the thinking of these men? The next time you find yourself deciding an outcome based on past experiences or perceptions, ask yourself instead:

What are the possibilities?

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SchoolThis week at Marton House we are in the unique position of having a work experience person here who isn’t a student doing experience because his course demands it, he is actually a science teacher who has chosen to further his knowledge within the media industry.

Upon watching a section of The Platform featuring a head teacher talking about reflection and what it means to run a school in these modern times it provoked an emotional and interesting response from Guy, which of course we asked him to put into a 500 word essay so we could publish it here 🙂

These are the thoughts of Guy Jones about running an educational establishment as a business.

Traditionally, teachers have viewed themselves as their own bosses, master of their own castles if you like. As a relatively new teacher myself, I have noticed over the last couple of years a shift in much of the thinking behind education and perhaps the mentality by which schools are run.

Much of the labour governments policy regarding education has been to create more of a marketplace for parents, emphasizing freedom of choice between local schools. This in turn has perhaps caused a shift in the way that schools now have to present and manage themselves. With competition comes the necessity to constantly improve and adapt which has meant that many schools have adopted a much more businesslike approach.

It was highly publicised when high-flying business executives were called upon to run new academy schools in tough inner city areas. Whilst they may tend to move on after a couple of years, many schools have certainly befitted from their strong leadership and business acumen. Other evidence for the shift can also be seen in school websites. Once merely uninteresting pages of information, many are now highly professional marketing tools, serving to raise the profile of schools within their communities. Some evidence is much more anecdotal. For example, it seems to me that teachers regarded as unsatisfactory are now much more likely to undergo competency procedures and ultimately lose their jobs. Whilst this may create a sense of paranoia and fear amongst staff, it does at least make teachers accountable for what goes on in the classroom. Teachers have a responsibility to the children they teach and they are no longer able to hide if they continue to produce poor results.

For many however, the purpose of education should not be centered solely on targets and results. Some teachers would argue that it was as much about social development, good manners and discovering ones place within society. The new system of diplomas which the government plans to introduce will take education down a much more vocational route but ultimately schools will still be ranked and assessed by the results they achieve and the targets they meet. Just as in the business world, if the headteacher is ultimately responsible for the performance of their school then surely they should have control over who works in it?

One further step in this school to business transition could logically be performance related pay, one which would be fiercely contested by teachers. It could be argued that to be treated in such a ‘business-like’ way would in itself demand more ‘business-like’ wages!

Guy Jones

Death of a SalesmanFor the next Platform module we are covering ‘Selling’. And this post is a musing, a riff, on what that means. Who are these sales people? They have long been ‘on the way out’ and ‘dinosaurs’ and always knocking on their final door. Mail order, TV shopping, the internet – they were all supposed to knock the final nail into their coffin, slam the final door on their foot. But instead the opposite has been true. As the corporations become more faceless and seem to serve only the shareholders, as we become increasingly frustrated at having to push 1, then * and then get cut off anyway, as we find our emails unanswered – the salesman is actually the guy on the frontline. The last human point of contact. We need the salesman, even if it is someone to quiz, to barter with and maybe even to complain to. Maybe its time to re-evaluate what we mean by selling and our image of the sales person.

Clayton LoweIt seems that our colleague Clayton Lowe is on the brink of becoming a hedonist.

He’s also on his way to visit us at Marton House Towers today.

Not that the two are linked… least I hope not.

There’s an interesting advertising campaign that is running at the moment on both TV and radio which I feel is worth more than a 30 second slot. It’s for Honda and it focuses on how they perceive problems.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard company statements before which boast something along the lines of “Your problem is our solution”. Well blah, blah, blah whatever to that. Where’s the proof and more importantly where is the depth and emotion behind that statement?

Honda state in their radio advert that they welcome a problem with open arms and treat it like an old friend. They also say that a problem is an opportunity to develop and grow, learning something new along the way. The point is at the end of the ad the viewer is left thinking that whatever problems arise, Honda can fix it.
This is a great way to think. Why let a problem get you down as soon as one rears its ugly head. Instead think of it as a small hump in the road that you can flatten on your journey, safe in the knowledge that next time you see that hump approaching you’ll know how to overcome it.

How do you perceive problems?

The video below is from the same campaign but instead features the “Problem Playground”.

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