For some reason, no matter the amount of forethought and planning, my travel around the UK (to support existing SSEs or to develop new ones) tends to come in batches. So this week was Manchester and Liverpool back-to-back, and next week is Belfast and Cornwall back-to-back. Apart from taking the outstanding pile of reading with me, and the ubiquitous laptop, I tend to load up on relevant podcasts for some (hopefully) interesting listening to pass the time.
Over the last couple of days, whilst leaning with the Virgin Pendolino round corners, I’ve listened to the following:
– Evan Davis’ The Bottom Line: simple, but effective: talking to 3 CEOs each week about their business, and business in general. Recommended
– A few episodes from HBR’s IdeaCast, which varies for me, both in terms of sound quality (phone call interviews are tough to hear) and becoming overwhelmed by its own jargon (“so what we’re talking about here are ways of hedging companythink?”) but there are good bits, including one professor on the CEO within and succession planning (mp3).
– The Times’ Twelve Business Ideas that are Changing the World, which this week featured Stuart Rose of Marks & Spencer talking about their Plan A CSR strategy. OK-ish.
– A couple of episodes from Grassroots Channel from Podnosh, which were both great and put the others largely to shame, considering (I assume) the budget and support is that much smaller.
I listened to the Grassroots episode on lobbying advice in preparation for my workshop on the same subject with social entrepreneurs in Manchester (see my powerpoint here), and it was well produced and structured. Loved the subtitle: “the dark arts demystified” (I got an image of Dumbledore telling Harry Potter, “Right. Now we’ve done spells and broomstick technique, it’s time for the hard stuff: lobbying”). I ended up incorporating elements of it in my session, particularly around calling lobbying another form of persuasion, just planned persuasion of those in (or with) power.
I also enjoyed the session from the launch of the Big Green Challenge, because it didn’t just act as glorified PR (or greenwash) for the event, but questioned it and reflected some dissenting voices. It made for an interesting dialogue and conversation between those involved. The same couldn’t be said, for example, of Stuart Rose’s quasi-lecture which, whilst informative about some of the numbers to do with M&S’s Plan A, suffered from having no challenges to it. It sounded over-prepared and scripted, and I learned little that I didn’t know already; demonstrates how the medium is suited to dialogue and conversation. I was longing for Podnosh’s Nick Booth to chip in with some questions about his private jet, continued overpackaging, shareholder reaction and so forth, but longed in vain. The campaign for the interview, or a better conversation, starts here.