Another dull day at the officeIf you have been following this series closely you’ll be equipped to build great relationships with your customers and be able to motivate your co-workers with a few killer one-liners and some well thought-out communications. There’s just one thing that needs to be added to spice up the workplace: circus skills. Yes, this is my big take-away from the Fringe: the business world would benefit enormously from regular injections of acrobatics, tightrope-walking and attempts at the seemingly-impossible.

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Typical fringe audienceI’m going to tell you a story… no, I’m going to start with a confession - I don’t go to that many comedy shows so what I’m going to say is based almost entirely on the few shows I saw at the Fringe. But, as we consultants say, two data points make a trend and anything more than that is cast-iron proof. Oh, and I’m also going to attempt some humour… what’s that? People heading for the door? And I’ve only just started…

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Horse playing the accordion - and why not?I went on holiday to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with the expectation that  my take-aways would be mainly fish suppers (the jokes don’t get any better believe me) but there were a few business-related things that struck me about it that I thought I would share. The whole thing was a fun break - and this trilogy of blogs is intended in much the same spirit.

I’ll cover comedy, circus skills and, inevitably, interpretive dance soon but to get started…

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Deposit technology can take many formsI’ve been working in financial services on and off over a period of more than 20 years and the debate over how many branches a bank needs has been going on for at least that long. So it was good to see the Financial Services Club keeping the debate going this week. Despite money becoming increasingly virtual and the growth of online banking I think the industry has a long way to go before we see a significant change in the number and style of bank branches. Banks that invest in their people as well as new technology will maintain both a distribution network and the valuable customer relationships that go with it.

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Step away from the papaya, Orlando!My social media credibility – recently boosted by having a tweet ‘favorited’ by a jazz pianist admired by my 16 year old – has taken a bit of a dive as I was unaware of Waitrose’s recent Twitter campaign – #WaitroseReasons – asking people to complete the sentence “I shop at Waitrose because….”. Initial reaction in the press and on Twitter suggested that this was serious hashtag fail. I personally think it’s a brilliant piece of marketing.

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Nathalie and partnerIn my attempts at bringing humour into my work, I – and I think I’m probably not the only one – have occasionally used the phrase ‘through the medium of interpretive dance’ as a shorthand for ‘out-there, wacky stuff in the business place’. Despite my love of aforesaid wackiness I’ve never actually been to a meeting or workshop where any form of dance was featured – until last night when I attended the excellent Knowledge Cafe run by Alida Acosta and accompanying tango dancers.

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It’s not always a question of balanceI’m writing this whilst watching Spain play Portugal in the World Cup and, as I usually root for the underdog, I’m supporting Portugal. Having had a great experience in Portuguese-style piri-piri outfit Nando’s last night I’m even more inclined to favour them. The secret? Over-compensation.

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Lacrosse sticks optionalI make no apologies for a second post on the joys of improvisation – this time inspired by seeing the Comedy Store Players (featuring Paul Merton) in an evening of hilarious improvised comedy at my local theatre last weekend.  For readers unfamiliar with the improv approach, the audience supplies the source material by suggesting film or theatre styles, character names, locations, jobs and so on. It’s then up to the performers to improvise from that starting point. It’s hard to convey the results of this without making it sound ridiculous – which it is – so I won’t attempt to. (Since it’s played for laughs the ridiculousness is all part of the equation anyway.) (more…)

It’s about discovering that inner child…I was going to write a post on customer service in a recession but then I got distracted by a great article on improvised theatre posted on Innovation Tools. It made me realise that my original impulse – to post a piece on the recently-ended London Jazz Festival was the best one to go for as both the article and my experiences at the festival were inspirational and, yes, they do provide useful lessons for customer service.

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Smart people, but what are their objectives?SMART objectives – anyone who’s been trained in best practice for personal or project planning knows about them. It’s a convenient shorthand that’s found its way into common usage but is it any use? Sometimes I find a little redefinition is in order.

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