Chop swap

9 April 2013
Saint Homobonus, patron saint of procurementThe patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales. Chop swap It’s a sticky argument – which is better, the chopsticks or the knife and fork? Suddenly, this subject has come to the fore, as China has admitted its forests can no longer provide enough throwaway cutlery for its dinner tables. Bo Guangxin, the chairman of Jilin Forestry Industry Group, even went so far as to suggest restaurants offered knives and forks instead – not at all helpful for noodles. It seems China imports mountains of chopsticks – even from America. I think, considering the reluctance of China to share any public contracts, the US should make a meal of this one. Caught napping NHS ‘life coach’ Jayne Morris has advised staff to take a snooze at work. She said to get rid of any guilty feelings about this: “Release any inner gremlins telling you that you are lazy for napping,” she said. But she has forgotten about outer gremlins and naysayers. Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “When there is serious pressure on health budgets, taxpayers will find it astonishing that NHS Online is spending money on a ‘life coach’. If they’re taking her advice seriously, it’s little wonder the economy is stagnating.” Morris hit back by saying “a short 20-minute snooze is all it takes to super-charge stamina”. I don’t think this is better than my coffee idea (see ‘April powers’). But if they nap in lunch hour, what’s the harm? After all, NHS Online staff will henceforth be so clearheaded and rejuvenated they will have no further need of a life coach, so everyone is happy. Daff dilly dally Mother’s Day in the UK has come and gone and still not a solitary daffodil has raised its head. St David is not pleased. Wordsworth has also been on the line. By the time you read this, hopefully hosts of golden daffs will be dancing about. But in the meantime, it is playing havoc with the daffodil growers’ supply chain. In fact, while the flowers fail to grow, their prices are rising through the roof. The wholesale price increase has raised the cost from 20 pence to 30 pence per bunch in London’s New Covent Garden market. I’m off to get ahead of the bunch by shining a sunlamp on my bulbs – anything for profit. Mother knows best Speaking of Mother’s Day, the UK’s most senior men are proud, nay, even boast, that they are mummy’s boys. Nearly two out of three chief executives, surgeons, senior civil servants and men in similar high-flying jobs describe themselves thus. Only one in five in working-class professions admitted the same. The survey classed a ‘mummy’s boy’ as a man who runs every life decision past his mother (62 per cent), still lives with her 
(38 per cent) and she still does his washing and cooking (37 per cent and 28 per cent respectively). I suggest hiring mums instead of consultants from this moment on. Handsome earnings If you can’t be a mummy’s boy then looking after your appearance could help your career. A study by senior economists has found being good looking means male workers earn 22 per cent more than average-looking colleagues. But good looks did not give women a similar advantage. Andrew Leigh, former professor at the Australian National University, said: “Beauty can be a double-edged sword for women.” Unfair? Yes. But on a positive note, women can save themselves a lot of time and money on hair and makeup before work and stay in bed a bit longer – whereas men should get themselves to the gym, pronto. April powers See me above with my budget briefcase? This is how much I enjoy beginning the new financial year – I accessorise to match. There is a whole year ahead, a clean sheet, a big budget to do with what we please – the fresh challenge of squeezing the life out of stakeholders... whoops, I mean working with them collaboratively to align with company strategy and make win-win savings. I have also found a way to boost efficiency this year. Behold, ‘Death Wish’ coffee. Delivered in a packet emblazoned with a skull and crossbones and health warnings, this coffee has 200 per cent more caffeine than usual. Purchase this for your firm’s coffee machines and everyone will soon be full of beans and productivity will soar. But my beverage research doesn’t stop there. Alternate Death Wish with the Greek-style coffee I have discovered on the island of Ikaria, which helps most residents live beyond 90 years old, and you will have productivity and sustainability, too. Tweet of the month “I offered to run a contest between me and procurement to find out which got best value. Finance director refused!” David Colquhoun
Chelmsford or Cambridge
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Anglia Ruskin University
South Sinai (EG)
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Multinational Force and Observers
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