Northern Powerhouse: Science Fiction or Science Fact?

I went on Friday to a networking event with Sci-Tech Daresbury.  I never cease to be amazed at the things the scientists come up with.  I was never good at science at school so have a lot of catching up to do.  When you hear what’s going on at Daresbury, you can’t say the Northern Powerhouse is a myth, although a lot of the stuff was going on before anyone used that expression.  Some people are glad ofall the hype anyway, because it tells foreigners that the North is not a wasteland, but somewhere worth doing business.

I am thinking of writing a novel set against the background of scientific research.  The story will be fiction but the science will be real.  Who needs sci-fi?  The truth really is stranger than fiction!

Is your business too big for Risk Management?

Most of my writing is aimed at small businesses.  That is because I believe there is a market there for my services and because I believe small businesses need to manage their risks at least as well as big businesses.  Arguably their need is greater.

A fair criticism of a lot of the advice that I give is that it is impractical in a big, or even medium-sized, business.  Nobody can be constantly aware of all the risks or all the controls.  Nobody can be sure all the controls are working as they should.

The obvious answer is to delegate.   But that can mean simply pushing the problem onto someone else.  I have worked for bosses like that!

A better solution is to bring in systems to ensure the whole business is covered and that everyone knows what his or her responsibilities are with regard to risk.

I will be writing more about this soon, but if you cannot wait, get in touch.

01925 445215

07726 490639



The Risks of Publishing

I am in the process of writing my first novel.  It is about an amateur detective, who is an accountant, solving a murder against the background of small businesses.

I have several ideas in mind for future novels, including historical novels, which may or may not involve solving mysteries.  I am also intending to produce another non-fiction book this year.

I have so far self-published three non-fiction books and found the process cheap, easy and quick, but many people still find traditional publishing more effective.

So I am weighing up the risks of self-publishing against those of going to a traditional publisher. 

If any of you know anyone in the publishing industry or a literary agent, I would love to be introduced, so we can have a chat and get to understanding each other and explore the risks involved with the different approaches.

If you want to know more about the books I have published:

  1. For Load the Dice. A simple guide to managing risks in a small business, Go to CreateSpace eStore:

Or ISBN-10: 1505480345          ISBN-13: 978-1505480344

  1. For Be Victorious!Lessons from World War I for Business and Everyday Life.

            Go to:                                                                    Or

  1. Or for How To Avoid Being Misled By Statistics Don’t Be One Of The 60% Who Are Below Average

Go to:



The Season of Invitation is over. Is now the time to consider yourself invited?

I have written before about the Season of Invitation.  It was an initiative by the Church of England in the North West to encourage people who have not been to church for a long time (ever?) to come and have a look.  There was Back to Church Sunday, Harvest, Remembrance and various Christmas and New Year Events.

The idea was that churches should make these events visitor-friendly.  Apart from looking out for new faces, people were to think about the actual services.  No jargon.  Explain what’s going on.  What page of the hymn book to go to.   Also, these special Sundays were times when a lot of people put a lot of effort into extras.  Decorating the Church.  Musical items.  Drama.  These were times you could go to church and not feel embarrassed because you would not be the only visitor or newcomer.

I hope you tried it.  I hope you liked it.  I hope you gave feedback, whether good or bad.  We only improve if we know where we’re going wrong.

So that’s all over for a while?  Well, perhaps.

Whether you were invited or not, whether you went or not, perhaps now is a better time to go!  I think I would rather see what a church was like on a “normal” Sunday.  No extras.  No special efforts.  What is it like, really?

I think you will find that a lot of churches don’t need any season of invitation.  They are always welcoming.  They never use jargon.  They always make everything clear to everyone.  Try it and see.  Say I invited you.  You might be surprised.  In a good way!

What have events in 1760 got to do with us?

In 1760 there were three big stories which were linked.

Firstly, we were in the middle of the Seven Years’ War, although they did not call it that then!  The Enemy was, as usual, France, but Spain was openly but unofficially helping France in lots of ways.  William Pitt the Elder was not Prime Minister but was the driving force in the Government and was pushing for us to declare war on Spain to stop trying to fight with one hand tied behind our back [or is it “backs”?] much like fighting ISIS in Iraq but not in Syria, as we were for some time.

Secondly, King George the Second died and was succeeded by his twenty year old grandson, George the Third who had been brought up by his father, Frederick Prince of Wales, to believe everything George II did was wrong and blamed Pitt for advising him badly.  So when Pitt asked to extend the war to Spain there was a big row ending in Pitt’s resignation and the sacking of everyone in any public office who had supported him.

The Third Big Story was that very soon after Pitt’s departure, Spain declared war on Britain.

Not only is there a lesson here for Jeremy Corbyn among others, but do you see any similar situations in your business or elsewhere in your life where you are getting into, or have got into, a conflict which could turn out to be a total waste of time as circumstances change?

Is your view of your situation too static?

That is one way to manage your risks – badly!

The Northern Powerhouse: Myth or Reality?

There has been a lot of hype about the Northern Powerhouse.  It has been greeted with apparently equal amounts of enthusiasm and scepticism.  Which is justified?

It is true that a lot of the projects announced, such as the Cross-Pennine rail link, investment in science and technology and the advent of directly elected city-region mayors, did not involve any new money, which is not surprising, given the Government’s overriding policy of reducing the deficit.  It has also been said that they were not entirely new projects, but amounted to a relabelling of existing plans.

All the above may be true, but there is on big positive aspect to all this which we should not ignore.  It is the psychological impact, at home and abroad.  Every time the Northern Powerhouse is mentioned, it draws the North to people’s attention, and in a positive way.  It counters to unhelpful image of the North in the minds of many southerners, not to mention foreigners, of grime, poverty, and backwardness.  The Northern Poorhouse?

All of us in business know that image is important.  I include self-image.  If we believe that we in the North can do great things, then we probably can.

Let us by all means hold the Government to account.  Let us demand a fairer share of resources.  Let us demand support for our initiatives.  Let us demand continual positive publicity.

But let us also believe we are all part of something good.  Let us not undermine one another, or even undermine ourselves, by being too quick to decry the Northern Powerhouse as a myth.

We can make it happen.

This will be a great year to be in the North!

Yet another aspect of the Corbyn Risk

I have written before about the risks associated with Jeremy Corbyn.

  • The Tories and the press have emphasised the risks to the economy and to our national security.
  • More recently the emphasis has been on the risk of splitting his party.
  • I have pointed out the risks to the Labour Party in choosing someone with no experience of government or even shadow-government.

There remains one risk which has only occasionally been mentioned by commentators and even then given minimal publicity.   That is the risk to the Conservatives of complacency.  There is an old military saying, “never underestimate the Enemy”.

It is easy to forget that the Government has a very slim majority in Parliament and, despite the very poor results for both Labour and the Lb Dems at the General Election, they have not actually got the support of the majority of voters.  In other words, it would not take much for that majority to disappear.

It is tempting for Conservatives to think that however badly they perform in office, whatever stupid things any of them say or do, they will get away with it because Jeremy makes the Labour Party look even worse.  That is probably true up to a point, but the risk is that they will find themselves going beyond that point.

What has any of this got to do with your business?

Are you complacent?

Are there any risks you think you do not have to worry about?

  • Your reputation?
  • The competition?
  • Do you think your customers will keep on coming to you no matter how poor your product or service?
  • Do you think that they think that There Is No Alternative? (Remember that slogan?)
  • What if an alternative appears out of the blue (or wherever)?

Are there any risks you have not reviewed for a long time? 

  • How sure are you that the control measures still work?
  • Is it time for another review?

Let me know if you want to talk about this.


New Year! What’s New?

Hello and a belated Happy New Year to any of you who are not on my mailing list so didn’t get a Christmas and New Year greeting!

What’s New With Me?

  1. I’m converting my website onto a new template.  It will have the same address and initially the same content, but should be more mobile-friendly and more searchable.
  2. Then I’ll be reviewing the content, in stages.
  3. I’m going to be doing more writing:
  • Blogging
  • Ezine articles
  • Books
  • Including a work of fiction!
  • Of course I’ll still be ready to give Risk Management advice if anyone’s interested.
  • And I’ll be happy to speak on RM or any related topic if anyone’s interested.

What’s New in the Economy?

I’ll be writing soon about the Northern Poorhouse – sorry! Northern Powerhouse, of course.  Silly me!

The Chancellor has warned of risks to the economy from World events – the fall in oil prices (and I thought it would be a good thing for anyone who drives a car or even uses electricity) and the problems in China.   I’ll be writing about other risks too.

Happy New Year!