Saturday, 27 August 2016

How is it made?

Yesterday, I spent a very interesting morning at our print and distribution supplier's UK print facility. We had a super tour of the whole facility, showing how rolls of paper work their way through various complicated machines to end up as printed books.

The paper arrives on rolls about a metre in diameter which are loaded onto the presses. The older presses use toner like a photocopier, the newer ones that they're moving to are inkjet printers, just like the one you have at home but bigger. They print the pages of the books in a seamless sequence onto the paper rolls, and a cutter then separates the stream of paper into individual pages and assembles them in the right order for each separate book.

Meanwhile, a colour printer produces the covers and they are laminated, again in a continuous stream.

The interiors or 'book blocks' and covers are then glued together, trimmed and given a final quality check.

Three things surprised me:

1. How quiet the factory was
2. How many manual steps were in the process
3. How many books they produce per day

I guess I expected to see one big machine sucking in paper and spitting out books, but in fact people were present at every stage. The only part of the process that was completely automated was the printing of the book blocks, where two giant printers work in series to print one side, then the other, as the stream of paper flies by too fast to see. Each print line, of which there are eight, will take roughly one minute to produce a book. It was nice to see that each person who managed part of the overall process performed their own quality checks to ensure any problems are caught early in the production process.

The factory turns out close to 20,000 books each day. And you can imagine how delighted I was to learn that they class me as a 'big publisher'!

Those books are then hand picked and packed for delivery either to book retailers, or for direct fulfillment to individual customers.

Very interesting indeed!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Peter Freeth's latest book 'Learning Changes' is available now

The Radically Sensible Approach to 21st Century Learning

Buy from Amazon

ISBN 978-1-908293-36-7

You have been learning since before you were born, and you’ll never stop learning. It’s automatic, it’s easy and it’s what your brain does best.

Whilst learning is a natural and automatic process, learning how to do a job is not. To perform in a particular job, we need a lot of knowledge that we don’t know that we need.

Traditional training and teaching focus on knowledge, and concepts such as 'accelerated learning' are simply attempts to increase the retention of that knowledge.
What if knowledge, in itself, is irrelevant?

Because, let's face it, you don't really want people just to know stuff. You want people to be able to do stuff. And for that, traditional training methods are ineffective.

What if there was a way to structure learning so that learners do the right things, whether they're being watched or not?

What if there was a way to combine learning with performance management to create true engagement and accountability?

What if there was a way to structure learning so that it could be delivered easily, any time, any place, by anyone, faster and with immediate, observable, measurable results?

Well, now there is.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Mark Jaffe's Let Me Give It to You Straight reviewed in Fortune magazine

Not every business advice book has a diagram on the cover showing how to tie a noose, but this one does.

“We now know beyond any reasonable doubt that much of what we were taught about how to succeed in life is goofy, wrong-headed, or just plain false,” writes Mark Jaffe about halfway through Let Me Give It to You Straight.

By his lights, feeling overwhelmed by the pace of change these days is normal. “If every single morning at work feels like an audition for a play that is yet to be written, you’ve got the idea.”

Still, Jaffe, of eponymous recruiting powerhouse Wyatt & Jaffe, has spent 30 years observing — and shaping — executive careers, and his book is evidence that even tumultuous times can be funny. At just shy of 200 pages, it’s about the right length for a flight from, say, New York to Minneapolis, and it reads as if its author were coaching you on your next career move over an old-fashioned three-martini lunch.

Consider, for instance, what’s (probably) wrong with your resume. If you’re like most candidates for senior management jobs, it’s too long. “Less is more. The sole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, period,” Jaffe writes. “It’s not an autobiography. If you blurt it all out now, why would anyone want to meet you?”

If your CV is spangled with glowing adjectives, lose them. “Before I forget to ask, did your last employer sign off on you being a ‘visionary, world-class entrepreneur,’ or did you kind of decide that on your own?” Jaffe wonders. “What would she say about you? That the thesaurus called and they want their synonyms back?”

A chapter called Choose Better Habits and Enjoy Them Less lists Jaffe’s seven tips on setting yourself up for success. “Get up before the sun” is one: “No practice could ever feel more bizarre and unnatural, particularly to yours truly. But it’s the right thing to do and you know it…. Set your alarm for the same ridiculous time each day and get moving.”

Want to know how Jaffe and his clients spot which candidates to avoid, and how not to be one of them? Take a look at Chapter 10, dubbed Danger! Bad Candidate! Run Away! It’s a checklist of nine red flags that can pop up in interviews, and most of them are errors that well-intentioned interviewees don’t realize they’re making.

It seems reasonable, for instance, to assume that one way to make a great impression is to downplay any disasters in your past. Yet Jaffe says a prospective hire’s “lack of ‘crash and burn’ experience makes it impossible to know how he or she deals with situational failures, setbacks, and disappointments. Will the candidate fold like a cheap suit at the first sign of serious pressure?”

So how does Jaffe recommend that a management job candidate wow an employer? “My solution is ridiculously simple,” Jaffe writes. “Forget about being a candidate. Imagine instead that you’re a consultant, and that you’ve already been paid a non-refundable consulting fee to attend this meeting.”

It works because “you don’t have to worry about selling yourself. No posing, no posturing, no tap dancing of any kind. You’re there to be helpful, to identify your client’s needs…. Now you can sit on the same side of the table, metaphorically speaking, and ask the hard questions” — including where the company has been, where it’s going, how this executive job opening is defined and why, what great performance in it would look like, and how excellence would be measured.

“What will stick with them is that you asked the right questions, paid close attention to the answers, and really fathomed what their organization is all about,” Jaffe writes. “Now they’re hooked.

“Just remember: It’s not about you; it’s all about them. The more you want to be taken seriously as a candidate, the more you should forget that you are one.”