Friday, 21 October 2011

Do people listen? Do we recognise talent when we see it?

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin;
It was a cold January morning.
He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.
During that time, since it was rush hour, it was recorded that over a thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.  Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money down and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, a man leaned against the wall to listen to him, but then looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy.
His mother tagged him along, hurried but the child stopped to look at the violinist.
Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time.
This action was repeated by several other children.  All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while.
About 20 gave him money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  He collected $32.
When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.  No one applauded, nor was there any recognition of any kind.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world.
He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth $3.5m.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception and priorities of people.
The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:  Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Food for thought...
By Steven Wynne

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Rise in the use of interim managers

The latest results from the IMA (Interim Management Association) Ipsos MORI market audit (compiled by all IMA members) for Q2 of 2011 has found the number of Interims engaged by businesses has increased marginally by 2% from Q1 2011. However, the number of executives actually engaged on assignment has decreased by 12% from Q1 as has the number of new assignments started in the quarter but only by 3%.

This is not so surprising as the month of April was challenging given the amount of people taking advantage of the extended holidays.   The length of assignment has remained much the same as Q1 and remains 28% higher than Q1 and Q2 of 2010.  The number of female executive interims currently on assignment has increased 2% from Q1.

The private sector remains active with 61% of completed assignments in Q2 2011 which is up from 57% in Q1.  The increase in the private sector is encouraging as figures have now returned back to those seen in Q3 2008 when the recession took effect and indicates the slight decrease in numbers is due to the decline in public sector assignments.  

Interestingly, the highest number of assignments is Programme / Project management but this could cover a multitude of sins.  ‘Gap management’ also features quite highly and I suspect some ambiguous reasons given for the need of the executive interim in the first place and feel sure the underlying need was likely to be more business critical.

It will be interesting to see how these trends develop but from our prospective, we remain busy helping clients with Change programmes, Restructuring, Turnaround, Business improvement and Finance related assignments.
By Steven Wynne