Happy 2019!!!………………#UltimaThule

As we enter 2019 there is a lot of uncertainty, Brexit, Trump’s Whitehouse, China’s economy, crashing stock markets to name but a few. However 2019 is also the 50th Anniversary of the magnificent moon landings when mankind took its first tentative steps into the Universe with courage and conviction.

As we celebrate this great achievement an unmanned Nasa probe – ‘New Horizons’ will be approaching a tiny rocky world :- ‘Ultima Thule’ is only 30km wide & is 6.5 billion kilometres from Earth, situated in the Kuiper belt a band of frozen material that orbits the Sun. Ultima is a further billion miles beyond Pluto & is the farthest body in our Solar System to be surveyed.

The intention is to beam back to Earth images & data from the probe in the early hours of the New Year.

Over the decades NASA has contributed a massive amount of invaluable knowledge for ‘the benefit of all mankind’ – long may it continue.

Happy New Year






Globalisation is Good………………………………..#innovation

design-processMuch has been said about the ‘evils’ of Globalisation & the impact on impoverished workers resulting in Brexit in the U.K & Trumps victory over the pond. But what about the positive impacts of Globalisation which are rarely trumpeted (excuse the pun)

The export of manufacturing jobs from the West to Asia has undoubtedly impacted on job security in the West but what about the subsequent cost reduction in the price of consumer products.

Also, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in China & Asia as a result.

Those very same products are bought by the same people who moan about foreigners stealing their jobs. A TV which can be bought for £200 in a UK supermarket would cost may times that if manufactured in the UK.

Protectionism is no answer to under employment. All that will happen is the Countries affected by Tariffs will introduce their own in ‘revenge’, take the auto industry as an example.

Every car manufactured in the U.S contains hundreds of components which are made abroad. If each of these components increases in costs the unit cost of the car goes up reducing competitive advantage & ultimately the business is bankrupt.

In the end everyone loses as bureaucracy strangles innovation & the economy shrinks.

The only way to ‘protect’ jobs is by investing in education & innovation. By producing individuals who can develop & create the products & services of the future. These will be made wherever it is cheapest to do so lifting the impoverished up the socio economic ladder & increasing their own economic power.

In the UK manufacturing is only 10% of the economy but we have some of the worlds best design & development Engineers earning good salaries creating innovative products even if they are manufactured overseas.

Apple is recognised as one of the Worlds most successful & innovative corporations employing thousands in well paying jobs – but not a single iPhone is made in the USA.

‘Putting America first’ may give short term gains but will ultimately end in disaster.




Wielding Occams Razor

FullSizeRenderThis week was the anniversary of the tragic 9/11 atrocity & a documentary on T.V presented an explanation of why the towers collapsed based on fundamental scientific & engineering principles which demonstrated how a combination of super-heated aluminium (from the planes)  combined with water to create a powerful explosive mixture which was the most likely explanation for the towers collapse. It was so refreshing to see & hear scientists & engineers, working from first principles, expound a theory which stood up to reasoned argument. No CIA conspiracy, no bombs planted in the towers, no bullshit.

This reminded me of a principle which seems to be in short supply these days, that of Occams Razor. William of Occam became famous for espousing that, ‘where there are numerous solutions to a problem, the simplest explanation is often the answer.’

This is  a valuable piece of wisdom that is rarely employed in the era of big data, risk analysis, DFMEA’s, Statistical Analysis etc etc

Next time you have a problem to solve listen to your inner voice & apply the Razor

where there are numerous solutions to a problem, the simplest explanation is often the answer.



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Developing an #Innovative society & generating growth

If we want to develop an innovative society we need look no further than Silicon Valley which is the most successful example on earth.1395308240_silicon-valley-sign-lgSilicon Valley has key attributes which are key to its success in generating billions of dollars in revenue & employing millions of talented Engineers who earn enviable salaries. These attributes are not immediately obvious:-


  • It may surprise many to learn that Silicon Valley has a strong military connection particularly with the U.S Navy, many early innovations were as a result of collaboration on Radio & communications systems leading to the Arpanet the direct forerunner of todays Internet. Some of todays smartest innovative individuals work in the Defence Industry.
  • The presence of an Internationally renowned eduction establishment – Princeton – has been key to the ‘Valleys’ success. Princeton has developed & encouraged technically educated entrepreneurs to start & grow numerous successful enterprises.The U.K has some of the world’s leading Institutes, unfortunately recent government policy seems to make it increasingly unviable to survive economically as a Student.
  • People may be surprised to learn that Silicon Valley is the home to numerous large Law firms who’s accessibility has allowed start ups to quickly resolve disputes & grow rapidly.
  • Over 30% of residents are immigrants. The ability to welcome International migrants who are highly skilled & educated creating a multinational society of entrepreneurs & Engineers is a key component to success. Perhaps this could provide a solution to the UK’s ‘boats’ problem which often transport enterprising individuals who could be put to good use in the Economy rather than housed in run down hotels at huge taxpayer expense.
  • There are many Venture Capital firms in the area which provide key access to funding to ensure prosperity & growth.

All of these key components are essential if an Innovative Society is to thrive & grow generating huge revenue & employment prospects.




The true origin of the Internet…………..#innovation

nixonIn July 1969 President Richard Nixon &  CIA director Richard Helms paid a secret visit to UCLA for a meeting with Head of Computational Studies Walther Fuchs.

It was after dark and Nixon & Helms were smuggled in a rear fire exit. Both were disguised and wore false beards and glasses in case they were spotted by some inquisitive student working late on her dissertation.

In the study of Fuchs  the 3 relaxed with Havana cigars and Hennessy Cognac. The study was lit by moonlight filtering through the thick drape curtains & a single green reading lamp on the worn teak desk.

The walls were lined with antique leather bound books and a few more modern tomes with titles like “packet mode switching” and “The fundamentals of Electricity”

Nixon exhaled slowly, blowing a couple of smoke rings before taking a large sip on his Cognac.

Helms eyes moved around the room constantly as if searching for something elusive.

Nixon – “Walter, we need your help & what you do must remain absolutely secret, you can’t even tell your Mother”

Fuchs – “Of course, anything for my Country Sir”

Helms – “we want you to develop a system which we can use to capture peoples communications”

Nixon – “….it should appear entirely voluntary, so that they divulge their innermost secrets at will”

Helms – “It will develop over time with more & more people becoming increasingly interconnected…..”

Nixon – “if you help us we will invest billions of dollars here at UCLA & develop a whole new industry to support it’s growth….”

Helms – “we will use it to fight International Crime & to defeat the Commies…”

Fuchs – ” there……there is something I’m working on it’s called ARPANET”

Helms – “sounds good but why don’t we call it the International Net……..or INTERNET..”

Nixon exhaled and blew smoke rings across the room.

Invasion of the Robot cars….#auto #innovation

Last week saw a little reported milestone in Automotive history when Californian Governor Jerry Brown signed through legislation to allow fully automated vehicles  on California’s roads.

This took place at Google’s ‘Mountainview’ headquarters where the team have been working on a car which utilizes Google’s ‘Street View’ mapping technology, a number of sensors & some clever software to enable the car to navigate without human intervention. The company has already done over 300,000 miles testing with zero collisions so far.

So why is all of this so important ??   As Highways get increasingly congested it has long been a dream to enable convoys of vehicles to travel nose to tail in close proximity in separate lanes, breaking off as necessary, to reach local destinations.

Robot cars may smack of Sci-Fi but this development could herald a massive social change and a glimpse of the future.



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The Right Stuff….remembering Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong will forever be remembered for his unique achievement of being the first human being to set foot on another planet. His famous quote ” that’s one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind” is burned forever in our collective memory and recalls a seemingly simpler age of great optimism and opportunity when anything could be achieved given the right determination. Armstrong had that “right stuff” is spades and was an inspiration  to millions of scientists and engineers the world over.

His lifestyle after his momentous Lunar achievements and his decision to deliberately shun the limelight stands in sharp contrast to that of lesser “celebrities” who’s achievements paled in significance next to his but who crave attention like spoiled children.

Let us remember Neil Armstrong as his family wish……

Next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down on you, think of Neil and give him a wink

Casino Capitalism….#pmot…#biz..#innovation

traderWe have seen trillions wiped off stock markets worldwide, the FTSE 100 has lost over 10% of it’s value in the last week alone & our TV screens have been filled with hysterical traders and concerned politicians.

So does it really matter, in the long term probably not, but if you were planning on retiring soon and have an equities based pension scheme you may well have to think about postponing your retirement.

The markets have become the biggest casino on the planet, where billions are traded on market fluctuations to generate financial gain for wealthy funds. The problem is that massive losses can also be generated especially in times (like now) of great volatility.

It is almost as if Government policies are primarily based on satisfying short term targets of financial speculators.

Over the last 30 years we have seen increasing numbers of large corporations listed on the Stock Market. The benefits of this are increased transparency and greater share ownership but the downside is that company boards are increasingly focused on short term share performance rather than long term strategic growth. They are also more vulnerable to deselection which increases their focus on knee jerk reaction to stock market fluctuations.

So how do we escape from all this madness ?

Here are a few suggestions which may help:-

1) Corporations should seriously consider de-listing from publicly listed stock exchanges & revert to private Limited Company status. Directors will then be able to take a more objective long term view divorced from the daily vagaries of the markets.

2) They should follow the example of German organizations and involve workers representatives at board level, increasing participation and integration.

3) The only way to pay down debt is to generate growth; Governments need to think beyond printing money and subsidizing banks. Innovation in manufacturing and services should be strongly encouraged.

4) Failing corporations, whether banks or otherwise, must be allowed to fall. The risks of failing institutions should not be born by the taxpayer.

5) A state bank should be established to act in direct competition with the private sector so that essential Capital flows can be maintained.

6) Government (NOT essential public services) must be streamlined and taxes reduced. For too long those in business & manufacturing have subsidised those working for the state who provide no added value whatsoever.

We need a radical rethink if we want to escape the madness of Casino Capitalism.



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Happy 4th July….#pmot..#4july

origameriflagOn 4th July 1776 the 13 American Colonies declared their independence from the British Crown & established the United States of America by publishing the Declaration of Independence.

It is worth quoting the second sentence of this truly historical document:-

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

It is increasingly popular to disparage the achievements of the Unites States but despite all of it’s problems, especially over the last decade, it is impossible to find a country of such vast disparity of ethnicity’s, religions and political views which upholds the ideals of the individuals right to self improvement and determination.

Happy 4th of July America !



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The importance of bin on message #pmot #in

Obama2 Whatever the rights or wrongs of the killing of Osama Bin Laden the message delivered surrounding his dispatch was certainly confusing to say the least.

First he died in a vicious firefight, next he was unarmed.

He used his wife as a human shield, then it was her who leaped in front of him!

The Whitehouse staff watched every moment of the assault live, then…… oh no they didn’t, they only watched the first couple of minutes before transmission was lost ! etc etc etc etc

“Jeeeezzzzzz! can’t these guys get anything right? ” millions around the world screamed at their TV’s.

And this is just the kind of mixed messages we deliver to our exasperated customers every day of the week. First we promise delivery on a certain date, then we go back and revise it, then someone else tells them a different story, its hardly any wonder that customers get fed up and go elsewhere.

So here are some simple tips to make sure your organization is on message for your customers:-

1) Where possible have one direct contact per customer, if this is not feasible have one contact for engineering issues, another for commercial etc.

2) Before giving a customer a key milestone make sure the project plan is fully developed and includes some contingency to allow for risk.

3) If events transpire to affect a key customer milestone make sure every option is explored to pull back on track  before going back to the customer with the bad news.

4) If a major milestone is affected this should be communicated face to face.

5) Always give the customer a series of alternative options, so they can choose the best for them.

Keeping the customer on message is an essential part of managing customer relations and ensuring steady, repeat business.



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