Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Things that wind me up

This could be a long series of blogs because I seem to spend my life being wound up by things.

I know that the way to managing stress is to control the way I react to things so that they don’t wind me up, but I can’t help myself.

I’m doing an evening class at the moment and this evening I received a copy of my 2.1 Learning Charter.  Apparently I’ve agreed, somewhere, to abide by this charter.

There are things that Adult Community Learning “will make every effort to do” and there are things they “expect from me.”

They expect me to:

1.  Respect the rights of all centre users to be able to work in a co-operative manner and treat everyone with respect regardless of differences in culture, disability, learning difficulties, medical conditions, race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion or social class.

2. Play an active part in challenging discriminatory behaviour by

  • refusing to take part in any unacceptable activity that degrades others, such as bullying, harassment or victimisation in any form and on any grounds, whether it relates to learners or staff.  Any such behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • behaving in a way that respects the needs of others to learn teach and work.

3. Comply with Health and Safety regulations

  • by behaving in a way which does not put yourself or others in danger
  • by not attending classes when under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • by informing your tutor of any adverse impact on your behaviour resulting from prescribed medication
  • by helping to keep the buildings clean and tidy

4. Attend your course regularly, make every effort to be on time for your session and bring the necessary equipment or inform your tutor where this is not possible

5. Complete a learning plan and feedback on your progress with your tutor to chart your learning

6. Keep us informed in writing of any changes in your personal details e.g. address especially telephone number and in particular your status where it affects your entitlement to any fees remission you may have been granted.

7. Help us improve our service by giving us feedback in evaluations and satisfaction questionnaires.


I am not going to critique this.  I just wanted to share.  But does that mean I can turn up under the influence of legal drugs?

Actually I can’t resist passing some comment.  What kind of monster do they think I am that they have to get me to agree to this code of conduct?  Do they honestly think I’ll be a a complete bloody idiot?

Why not take it further with expecting me to:

8. Not smear excrement all over the walls.

9. Not bring my pet chinchilla into class

10. Sit quietly and pay attention

11. Not throw paper aeroplanes in class

12. Not speak to anyone in the class in case they have a fear of conversation

13. Do the washing up and get the mop out

14. Not question the tutor’s authority by asking questions

15. Raise a hand to indicate a need to use the toilet.

16. Bring my own refreshments

17. Bring pencils and biros but not fountain pens because ink is dangerous and messy

Make up your own “expectations” and we can build a new list together.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

I’ve just written a letter to the school.  Well both schools really as I’ve addressed it to the Heads of the Infant and Junior Schools.
There used to be a school uniform shop in nearby Shenfield.  It closed down and moved to premises that were even closer in Brentwood. 
The clothes were expensive when compared with High Street prices and the quality was poor too.  But there wasn’t a choice.  If you wanted an item bearing the school crest (demanded by the school uniform policy) then you either bought a poor quality expensive item, or went to Marks and Spencer (Or Sainsbury, Tesco or Asda) bought a cheaper item and paid the school uniform shop to embroider the school crest (at a cost of about £5).
Well now the school uniform shop has closed and relocated to an industrial estate in Basildon with opening hours roughly equivalent to office hours plus four hours on Saturday.
For me this is a minor inconvenience. 
Although I work, I don’t work full time, so I could spend 90 minutes of my free time (and about £4 in fuel) driving to buy some uniform.  Of course if I’m having an item embroidered then I’ll need two 90 minute trips (and about £8 in fuel).  There’s always the scenario that what I’ve bought might not fit which might also necessitate more than one trip, but let’s not over-complicate matters.
Imagine I work full time and imagine I don’t have a car, or perhaps I can’t drive.  That makes things a little trickier because as the shop is located at the end of an industrial estate, it isn’t well served by public transport, and yes, I’ve checked.
It’s also OK for me, because I have a computer, so I can order via the website.  Well yes except that there’s a modest charge for delivery and returns are not free.  This financial implication becomes costly if items don’t fit and need returning and re-ordering.  And the website doesn’t cater for the embroidering of items.  I could, at this point, start to regale you with tales of the poor usability of the uniform website, but you’d accuse me of being picky (which I am.)
Imagine I don’t know how to use the web, or don’t have access to the internet, or don’t have the means to buy online with a credit or debit card.
The school hasn’t sat idly by whilst this has happened. 
They have second hand uniform sales (during working hours.)
They have arranged a visit, during the school day on July 6th, enabling parents to buy direct from the school uniform supplier.  This of course doesn’t help with embroidering items, nor does it help if purchased items don’t fit as items will be purchased while the children are in lessons.
So I’ve written a letter, because it’s just one of those things for which the school will assume parents are coping and that there isn’t an issue unless someone raises their hand.
Please Miss.  Please Sir.  It’s not working.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A memo to marketing professionals

There once was a time when direct mail was king.  Then we all started to get too much of it and it became junk mail.

The problem was targeting, or lack of it.  Most of what we received wasn’t relevant to us when we received it, but companies still sent it because occasionally somebody bought a product or two.

Smart companies worked on improving both the content and targeting of direct mail when other companies just widened the net and sent more irrelevant messages to more people at the wrong time. 

Then there was e-mail, which was much cheaper than direct mail.  Smart companies moved their marketing spend to this new channel and probably achieved some great results when only a very few organisations were using e-mail for marketing purposes.

Unfortunately e-mail marketing has become spam.

I receive, on average, 60 marketing related e-mails every day.  It’s noise in the system and my six personal e-mail accounts are just a mess.  One of them has over 7,000 unread items.  I check my personal e-mail once or twice a week and I scan it, I don’t read it.  And when I say I scan it, I scan the subject line and note who e-mails are from.  Only if a message happens to be open in preview might I scan the contents.

If a company wants my attention they really will have to try a little harder.