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James La Trobe-Bateman

Factory model and layout

Models Need Scenarios

By | Featured, Models | No Comments

I was reading about a Covid-19 model being ‘rejected’ because it didn’t ‘give the right answer’.

First thought: no models ‘give the right answer’.  But they DO give some clues as to possible futures and tend to rule out impossible ones.

Then, I read that this model had been set up with a number of possible Scenarios.  Each of them showing what would happen if you did different things.  The model was there to guide the best decisions.

Models do not just predict one future.  They allow you to make choices, change assumptions and so predict different futures.  The different scenarios that you imagine are as important as the models themselves.

So, scenarios are as important as the Model.  Choosing a Scenario sets your course. The Model shows where you end up.

When should you reject a model?  When you have a better one!  In general, your ‘gut feeling’ is not a better one, although it is a natural human tendency to believe so.  That ‘gut feeling’ is really nothing more than an unconscious belief.  The model also represents beliefs.  But they are made visible.  You can challenge something visible in a way that you cannot challenge something unconscious. To reject a model, you must say what assumptions are wrong.  Just to say you ‘don’t believe it’ is irrational and gets you nowhere.

You might also say that you have not suggested the best Scenarios.  That’s valid.  But only if you can suggest others that make sense.  Then you can use the model to see where it goes. Or maybe force you to modify the model.  But not to reject it.

Morro Jable in Fuerteventura

When The Tourists Are Gone

By | News | No Comments
Morro Jable in Fuerteventura

Morro Jable with no tourists

Translated from the article by CATALINA GARCÍA for Canarias7

In silence, with the sea a witness to the east and the white dunes of Jandía pushing to the west, the nearly 7,000 residents of Morro Jable await the return of tourists. This town in the municipality of Pájara grew supported by twenty hotels and apartment complexes in nearby Solana-Matorral, today deserted by customers.

As a coastal area, the feeling of confinement is almost double due to the presence of the timeless beach, now out of bounds.The inactivity is so great that even the sand that gives its name to the town threatens to invade the maritime avenue where the only human presence this afternoon is the boys, dressed in orange jumpsuits, who disinfect the promenade and its surroundings. In the distance, someone walks with two grocery bags on each side, a stark outline against the backdrop of 14 kilometers of white sand beach in Jandía.

Morro Jable’s silence is broken by the home water distributors and the sound of televisions through windows and balconies. Behind a protective visor and with gloves, Esidia Cuenta (Barranquilla, Colombia, 1962) works at the Adela minimarket in one of those streets that go to the sea. “I tried to put on a mask to protect myself from infection, but I was sweating, my glasses were fogging up and I only managed to touch my face once and another time while attending to clients. Clients are many fewer in these times of coronavirus. Only half are coming now and they do it for bread, soft drinks, some food and little else.”
It is not the first store that she has run. When she arrived in the island, she started working at the Daisy, on the same street. This is what she did in her native Barranquilla and what he continued to do when she settled in Fuerteventura nine years ago. “In all these years, I have not seen a slump like the one now because of the state of alarm: nobody on the streets, nobody in the shops. Her clients are sure that, when the confinement is lifted, they will leave Morro Jable. Everyone sees the return of tourists to be a long time away. So it will be a long time before the town recovers its economic pulse. “This is a very big drop.”

At the top of the street, suddenly people accumulate forming a kind of line. “Ah, it’s nothing,” explains Esidia, “it’s the queue at the only pharmacy in Morro Jable, that’s why you can see so many people. In the tourist area of Solana-Matorral, we have another one, but we don’t live there”. The rest of the tourist town remains silent, including the port area, where the only daily ferry boat has long departed for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. On a rooftop, someone is moving: it is a married couple who exercise within their few square meters.

“First? Yes, I am the first taxi in line”. Todor Dragiev Ihiev does not understand Spanish very well, but he figures out his euros and fares like no one else. This Bulgarian taxi driver updates the figures: “There are 77 taxi licenses, but each day we can only work fifteen taxis. Once, two days; and again, three days. With this scenario, revenues have dropped from almost 200 euros a day before Covid-19 to 30 euros now. With this income, life is not sustained. Half of the profits: for the boss. The rest go to pay for the house, the license for the car, the money that I have to send to my daughter who is in Bulgaria and to eat. You have to pay and I don’t know where to get the money for everything.” Todor ends with a smile and the message of hope that is repeated in every citizen. “We only have ourselves and we are healthy, we have not become sick.” The expected afternoon miracle occurs and someone takes a taxi, his own.

At a bus stop in the ravine of El Siervo, something finally moves: it’s the goats.

Senegal school

Solar Panels for Senegal Schoolchildren

By | Impact-ology | No Comments
Solar panels for Senegal schools

A story about a small act that has a big impact on Senegal school learning.

In our events, emails and social media posts, we encourage you to increase your Impact on the world. 2020 – a new year and a new decade is starting. Lorrie & I have resolved to increase our positive IMPACT and Ripples in the world as well as encouragement to you and your IMPACT-ology journey.


We do this because… when you help others… you help yourself.


If you were at our October 2019 IMPACT-ology event in Port Huron-Michigan USA, you might remember we collectively agreed that $1 spent in the community has more impact on well-being than $1 spent anywhere else.


Here is an Amazing local IMPACT-ology story of how that is working: Tiny Solar Panels for Senegal Schoolchildren Immediately Improve Their Learning.


There is an organization on our Spanish island in the Atlantic ocean 60 miles off the coast of Sahara Desert and Africa that provides a summer school here for young people from Senegal to learn life skills to take back to their villages and improve their daily lives. Senegal is a small sub-saharan west African country not far (as the crow flies) from us. In their villages, they don’t have electricity in their homes or schools. That means no light after dark. This limits how much homework the children can do.


So the organization on our island donated 500 solar panel kits and are teaching the teachers and students how to assemble and install them in their homes (and schools). These solar kits are very small, enough to light up 4 LED bulbs. Though small, it is enough to provide light for students to complete their homework at home.

Guess what happened?!


Their teachers now report an immediate measurable jump in the rate of learning! 


If I gave YOU those little solar panel kits, I doubt it would have much impact on your life. Giving them to these Senegal children, and teaching them how to assemble and install themselves, has made a massive, immediate, positive IMPACT on their lives now and into their future.


QUESTION: What will your ripples be into the new year and decade of 2020… and beyond?


P.S.. Lorrie also wants to know.. With so many incredible things to do every day in this amazing world (many with very simple solutions just waiting for your help to make them happen)… What is Your Age Goal now..?

US Map as a flag

Is the US the Best Pinball Machine?

By | Impact-ology | No Comments

It has long puzzled me that the ‘USA is #1 in the world’. And yet it does not have the best roads, it does not have the best education, it does not have the highest purchasing power per person, it does not have the longest life expectancy and it does not have happiest people. And yet I find myself better able to ‘do well’ in the US than anywhere else.

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Interview for a job

Why Is Catbert the Evil HR Director?

By | Impact-ology | No Comments

Why do we have so much difficulty believing in a huggable people person running Human Resources? 

Scott Adams’ Dilbert character Catbert is totally believable as the ‘Evil HR Director’. Robert Townsend wrote in his book ‘Up The Organization’ that you should fire the Personnel Department and at worst have a 1 person People department.  Instead, since 1970, the Personnel Department has morphed into Human Resources.  Not only that, but the boss of that department is seen as evil. The world has gone backwards.

Let’s try some ‘whys’.

Why do you need an HR director? To make sure you have the quality and quantity of employees you need, plus to administer all the regulations around employment.

Why are there regulations around employment? Because employers can’t be trusted to treat their employees fairly.

Why can’t the employer be trusted? Because their job is to maximize profits for the shareholders, not for the employees.  So they will tend to cut corners if they can get away with it.

Why does management think of shareholders first and employees second? Because that is their main responsibility.

Why do shareholders think they should have priority? Because that is the way the system is set up.

…and you can go on.

Let’s stop there with the thought that the ‘system’ is the problem.  Not Catbert.

The system needs to change. 

It’s tough changing systems. Nonetheless, some enlightened bosses take a different view.  Richard Branson famously said that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.  Since your revenue depends on customers, taking care of your employees will take care of revenues and hence the shareholders.

But this is only a part solution.

We are talking about a change to the system.  So, we must talk about the ‘system’ that the corporation exists within.

Part of that system is the community around the corporation’s physical presence.

Henry Mintzberg goes deeper. We should put the corporation in the context of the society in which it exists.  This is because it draws ‘resource’ from that environment and has an ‘impact’ on the community around them.  It is not ‘fair’ to consider the corporation in isolation.  In particular, he advocates for rebalancing in favor of the ‘Plural Society’: the part that is not Private and not Public. Meanwhile, the world seems to be going backwards when it comes to the way corporations are run. 

Isn’t time to turn the tide?