2018 – Happy New Year: Ready for New Risks?

What New Risks are there?

Most risks are the same as in the old year and previous ones, of course, but the level of some is new.

Three dice - is this how you will manage your new risks?
Three dice – is this how you will manage your new risks?
Is anything really new?

One fairly new risk is Fake News, which has probably always been around but has become more of a phenomenon in 2016 than ever. I agree with David Cameron and Barak Obama that this is very dangerous, as some people don’t know who they should trust, whilst others are apt to believe lies put out on social media, especially if they listen only to people they think they’re going to agree with. If people believe either anything or nothing, will they believe your messages? I’m talking about:

  • sales
  • offers
  • guarantees
  • your businesses community involvement
  • replies to complaints or allegations

This means that we need to manage the reputational risk more cleverly than ever.

Want to talk to me about any of the above? Send me an e-mail or use the contact form on the website. Or even phone me 01925 445215.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you a



New Year Non-fiction Book Offer

Why a New Year Offer?

I have made a Christmas offer of my detective novel, Accounting for Murder, Double Entry, for FREE on Kindle for the five days ending today, 22nd December 2017. It has been so successful that I wanted to offer some of my other books, the non-fiction ones, free for limited periods in the coming year. If you have not taken advantage of it, you can still buy the book, follow this link to Kindle’s website.

Back and front covers of Accounting for Murder
Back and front covers of Accounting for Murder
What’s on offer in the New Year?

I am offering a free Kindle version of How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics for the five days from the 15th to the 19th January 2018 but if you can’t wait, you can always buy it! Follow the link. It has had only one short review. A favourable one. The more I hear about Brexit, the more important I think it is to know how to interpret statistics sensibly.

The cover of How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics
The cover of How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics.
What will I offer after that?

I hope to make How to Cope with the Church available free around Easter and Be Victorious! in November, just before Armistice Day. I don’t know about Load the Dice, as I am writing another book on Risk Management and this might not be a good time to promote it.

I’ll post the details on this blog and on Twitter nearer the time. Keep reading. Of course, you can buy them anytime. Follow the links.

I wish you a Happy New Year and enjoyable reading. 



The fifth phase of the creative process: elaboration

Why is elaboration a phase in the creative process?

Elaboration is listed fifth in the seven steps of the creative process that I have written about. It comes after you have done your preparation, allowed time for incubation,  had some inspiration and carried out your evaluation. It is unwise to rush into one phase before you have completed (well nearly) the ones that need to precede it.

What is elaboration?

Elaboration is the working out of the details of your project. This is where the perspiration occurs. It is not to be confused with implementation. This phase should take place before you go live. You have still time to change things or even abandon the project. With a book, it is writing the first draft. Not going to a publisher, not even self-publishing. There’s work to be done after this is finished. You do not go into elaboration while sitting in the garden or walking in the countryside. You need to be in the office, putting it all on paper. Probably discussing it with the people who will have to carry it out.

A man studying a computer screen with a magnifying glass: working out the details of his project?
A man studying a computer screen with a magnifying glass: working out the details of his project?
What not to do during elaboration: Risk Management!

At this stage, try not to do too much Risk Management. (Did I really write that?) You can pour cold water on your ideas before you’ve had time to work them out fully. You can overthink or overanalyse everything. Once you’ve got something fairly well thought out, you should ask what are the risks and how can they be managed. Remember that risks need to be evaluated in relation to the potential costs and benefits of the project. That will enable you to see whether the cost of possible control measures is likely to be justified.

For more on managing risks, read my book Load the Dice.

Three dice: risks need managing!
Three dice: risks need managing!

The fourth phase of the creative process: evaluation

What is evaluation?

Evaluation is the fourth of the seven steps of the creative process in business which I have written about. This is the process of deciding whether to commit your time and money to a particular project. Not every idea is worth following up. You have to select or at least prioritise.

A man with a question mark. Wondering how to conduct evaluation?
A man with a question mark. Wondering how to conduct evaluation?
Why is evaluation the third phase?

Until you have done your research, you don’t know enough to make any meaningful evaluation. You also need to have had at least one lightbulb moment so you know what you were planning on doing with all the information you have gathered. And that doesn”t usually come until after you have allowed the ideas time to incubate. You don’t want to leave evaluation much later or you will be in danger of doing too much abortive work.

How should evaluation be conducted?

You need to decide what are the criteria you are going to use. What is important to you? Think of positive and negative factors.  Cost? Availability of resources, including expertise? Lead time? Ultimate benefit? Dealing with an immediate issue? Nonfinancial benefits? Risks?

Three dice. Not the way to manage risks.
Three dice. Not the way to manage risks.

I suggest you list all the criteria you think are important and give each a weighting. Then give each project under consideration a score against each factor, multiply (a x b) and rank by score.

How many projects should you have in your evaluation?

This is a subjective decision. However, if you are doing only one, you can get very frustrated when you hit a brick wall, such as ‘writer’s block’ if the project is a book. I switch to another project and come back to the first one. You also don’t want to come to a halt once the first project is finished. You want to be able to get on with the second one, but not from scratch. I always have several on the go.

Can you have too many projects in your evaluation?

You can spread yourself too thin. You can be doing everything at once and never complete anything. I have heard that some very successful businessmen work on five projects, with another twenty or so in reserve. This means each project is at a different phase most of the time, so if you are fed up with, say, research, you can go to a project that is in a different phase. That keeps you fresh.

Remember, if you need help with evaluation, have a chat. I may be able to help you. 

The second phase of the creative process: incubation

Why do ideas need incubation?

Incubation is the time when the mind works behind the scenes. A lot of your best work is actually done when you are not consciously doing it! Ideas seem to sort themselves out. Perspective develops. You can suddenly see why something was a bad idea, or a good one, and you spot the gaps that need filling.

A man with a question mark, needing to give his ideas time for incubation.
A man with a question mark, needing to give his ideas time for incubation.
Why is incubation the second phase in the process?

Until you have done your preparation, as explained previously, you won’t have anything to incubate. It needs to continue until you’ve had at least some inspiration. But inspiration based on the sound basis of knowledge gained in preparation and allowed time for ideas to incubate. The other phases will work much better if you’ve let the first ones take place in the right order.

How can you forget about your project to allow incubation?

I know it is difficult but it is best to leave the project alone and work on another for a while. I’ve always got several books in my head and at least some partly on paper, so I can switch easily. It helps. Don’t try to force it. This may take only a day or two or it may take weeks. It depends on your makeup and on the problem or project in question. Anyway, it will be worth taking the time the process needs if you are to find a creative solution.