Tag Archives: European Union

Common Mistakes that Slow Productivity

Sometimes the good news and the bad news come bundled all together: The problem’s being addressed great! We’re having a meeting to address it well… Since, in the workplace, time really is money, a poorly-conceived or poorly-run meeting can incur a wave of resentment far out of proportion to the event. Avoid some major pitfalls and make your meetings worth the effort, worth the money, worth the time.


Fitting the right amount of time to the issue being dealt with is probably the most frequent challenge any manager confronts. It’s the Goldilocks strategy – just right. Here are some strategies that may help cut the time to fit.

A big issue deserves its own meeting. Rather than slotting a big issue into a regularly-scheduled organizational meeting, give it its own space. Jamming the regular meeting means presenting your big issue to people already wearied or distracted by the rest of the agenda. Use a shorter time frame to enhance concentration on a single issue. If the issue’s going to produce lots of backdraft, schedule a questions/feedback meeting at the same time. Issue Tuesday at 9:00; feedback Thursday at 10:00. People who know they’ll be heard are usually better listeners.

Weed out the dead wood this way: put on your angry face and snarl “This could have been handled with a memo!” Keep it short and to the point; provide good contact info for readers with questions or other feedback. Didn’t see the memo? People who go to fewer meetings have more time to read their memos.

Just a reminder from your Latin teacher. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are good communication days. On Monday, people are getting over the weekend; on Friday, they’re planning the next one. And if you have to take a lunch-hour, know what your people like to eat.

No more meetings! Rachel Emma Silverman in “No More Angling for the Best Seat” (Wall St. Journal, Feb. 2, 2012) reports on the newest meeting strategy: standups. Especially popular in tech companies, standups are held first thing every day, absence is not an option and run from 5 to 15 minutes. This advocates the point that many large-meeting issues develop just because of refusal to deal with small problems as they emerge. Small meetings=small problems.


If you schedule regular meetings, they probably involve the same people. Occasionally, it’s worth reviewing that list to see whether you have the right people coming to the right meeting. Right means the right number. The first thing nearly all attendees do is check their concern’s place on the agenda. Till they’re up to bat, they’re likely to refill coffee, check email and play Angry Birds.

The right people are also people whose contributions or reactions are critical to the matter at hand. Everyone has conflicts occasionally, but after you’ve told everyone that Dave is out again for the third time, you need to be talking to Dave. Anyone chronically missing meetings is probably missing other responsibilities as well.

Meetings and Work

One of the most frequent excuses for missing meetings is that they conflict with other, productive work. Technology lets lots of other things happen while you stay at your desk.  Perhaps on Monday, department heads get notified that quarterly sales analysis will be on video Tuesday at 3 and on tape till Friday morning. A feedback conference call is Friday at 10 am. Let tech tools run a meeting without reserving the conference room one more time.

Written by Tom Tolladay, Event Organiser for Chillisauce who specialise in Team Building Activities and Corporate Events


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A Sure Fix for the Economy – Revolution

Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not

by: Deena Stryker, The South Africa Civil Society Information Service | News Analysis

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.  But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures.  The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.

Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros.  This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country.  As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF.  The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North.  But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)

In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt.  The IMF immediately froze its loan.  But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis.  Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.

But Icelanders didn’t stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money.  (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.

Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution.  And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.

They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

That’s why it is not in the news anymore.


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The Tao Industrial Average and the Art of Deception: Things are Never What They Seem

Have you ever wondered what is in a “chicken tender?”  There is nothing in the name or any other documentation to suggest anything other than it contains parts from a chicken, and that it is tender.  Is there anywhere it says that there is a speck of un-ground breast or that it doesn’t contain every part of the chicken ground up and covered with bread because we are all too dumb to tell the difference?  Pour on the ketchup, or whatever is really in the red bottle, and were all fine.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but alas that is my fate.  I hear words on the news that after the Greeks were supposedly bailed out financially by (essentially Germany) that they were concerned that they might be losing some of their sovereignty.  Well, gosh.  That is amazing.   To think that someone who has to pay for your financial mistakes might actually have something to say about your actions in the future seems fairly reasonable to me.  When I have to bail out a friend and pay their rent, I think it might occur to me to suggest that they don’t indulge in fine dining for a week or two and that seems to be a violation of ones sovereignty.   The deal is apparently far from done anyhow.  Germany’s highest court ruled that the Bundestag must be given a greater say in euro bailout decisions given the degree to which the common currency rescue could impose on parliament’s right to create Germany’s budget. In response, the Bundestag on Wednesday moved to include provisions for parliamentary co-determination of positions taken by Germany on the euro bailout at European Union summits in Brussels. Under the multilevel process, depending on the importance, the urgency and confidentiality, decisions can either be approved by the entire 620-member Bundestag, by the 41-person budget committee or by the nine-member special panel. ‘The Bundestag Cannot Be Replaced’.”

Warren Buffett has challenged Rupert Murdochto tax return disclosure-off.

The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journalran an editorial asking Buffet, the namesake of a proposed guideline that would ensure that those who make more than $1 million pay proportional tax rates, to make public his tax returns. “No doubt the millions of Americans who could end up paying more because of this claim would love to see the details,” they wrote, urging the Berkshire Hathaway CEO to consider the disclosure an “opportunity to educate the public” on “his secret of tax avoidance.”

When asked during Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit whether or not he would be willing to do so, Buffett said he would be happy to — so long as News Corp’s most superior might join him.

China holds about $1.2 trillion in U.S. government debt, according to the Treasury Department’s latest figures. That’s about 30 percent higher than the previous estimate.

Then there is Obama health care.  What started out as an honest effort has turned into a joke.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds the support for ObamaCare has dipped yet again, with just 34 percent of Americans favoring the president’s signature health care overhaul.

What’s more, just 52 percent of Democrats support the law, a troubling sign for President Obama a year before Election Day. Thirty-one percent of Democrats view the law either “somewhat” or “very” unfavorably.

The budget debates are enough to give a teenage boy a Boehner.

Have you ever wondered about a “Peppery Zinfandel?”  What does that mean exactly? What is to stop the winemaker from taking a bunch of very average Zin grapes and dumping a pound of ground pepper in the barrel? Who would know?

Life without metrics and accountability is like that.  What we post on the internet is largely without measure or control.  Eventually our Karma will be affected by the crap that we put out if we do that, but really, there are no “thought police” out there.  We all have to be responsible to our audience, and true to our purpose.  There is enough deception out there as it is.


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Make Global Relocation Easier with a Courier Service and More

Today, many businesses headquartered in Europe are transferring some of their staff to other European countries and Asian countries. If you find out you need to relocate for work, you will discover that the main challenge will be actually moving. Moving to another country may seem daunting, but there is a lot of help available. Relocation assistance from a business that provides a courier service, a specialised relocation agency, and an international realtor can make it easier.

The growth of the European Union has definitely increased corporate relocation across Europe, as it let companies move across borders much more easily. Unfortunately, the global recession has posed some challenges for employees when it comes to relocating, according to Re:locate Magazine. Employees are nervous to leave their home country, worried about being able to sell their current house, and don’t have a lot of trust in the job market. Relocation assistance can help you deal with many of these worries and fears, and make the move go smoothly.

Moving your belongings to the other side of the globe can seem nearly impossible, but courier services can make it much easier. Companies that provide courier services do it all when it comes to moving and shipping. They can move and ship everything in your house, including large stuff like boats and even horses. There are websites that allow you to post free listings of what you need moved or shipped, and people and businesses that provide courier services can view those listings and make a bid to move your possessions. You can then view the bids and choose the right one for you. There are also reviews of the companies to give you peace of mind. Using websites like this can save a money and help you stop worrying about the condition of your belongings when they are moved.

If you are an employee looking into relocation, a specialized relocation agency may be a wise choice. Relocation agencies provide very thorough, comprehensive aid, and some people favour them because of this. But they’re often expensive too.  Agencies have programmes specifically tailored for transferees. These include real estate assistance as well as family and spousal expatriation assistance. Many agencies provide information about immigrating, cross-cultural disparity, and schools. If you need this information, you may want to use an agency.

International realtors can also be helpful. They can help you sell your current house or flat and help you to find one in the country you are moving to. Housing is a big concern for many people, and a trusted realtor can be a big help.

An increasing number of people today will find themselves having to move across the globe for a job in today’s global market. There are a variety of resources available to help make the transitional phase as stress-free as possible.


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