The patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales.
Tissue is the issue
Marking Disaster Prevention Day, the Japanese government has told its citizens to hoard toilet paper because half of the country’s supply comes from Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan, one
of its most earthquake-prone areas. It noted that while most people immediately think of food and water as emergency supplies, they forget toilet paper, and get desperate when it’s too late.
“After running out of toilet paper, people start using tissue, and that could clog up precious workable toilets,” said Toshiyuki Hashimoto, an industry ministry official.
Lean versus green
Employees who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers, according to research from Exeter University. Dr Chris Knight and fellow psychologists from universities in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands who have been studying the issue for 10 years, concluded that employees were
15 per cent more productive when “lean” workplaces were filled with even just a few houseplants. Knight said he had wondered for years why the fashion for spartan offices has been so dominant in the business world. “If you put an ant into a ‘lean’ jam jar, or a gorilla in a zoo into a ‘lean’ cage – they’re miserable beasties,” he said. People in “lean” offices are no different, he added.
Civil servants in Moscow are being kept on the straight and narrow by compulsory lie-detector tests to weed out those who are “liable to corruption”. More than 600 have taken the tests this year and another 1,000 members of procurement committees and contractual services will be tested by year end. Gennady Degtyev, the head of the department for competition policy, praised the polygraph tests as making the hiring process easier and the work of civil servants run smoothly. He said they had become “a requirement for starting a [civil servant] job or being appointed to
a post”. A trend to be followed?
Ahead of the game
A new board game, Business on the Move, supported by RBS Inspiring Enterprise, has been launched to inspire and educate the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Players are challenged to run a business and respond to orders by moving products from China to the UK as quickly, profitably and responsibly as they can. Aileen Laverty from RBS Sustainability said they plan to use the bank’s network to bring the game – founded by Andy Page and Pat Smedley of The Very Enterprising Community Interest Company – to more young people. So it’s game on!
Cuba has been hit by a true dry spell – a severe beer shortage during one of its hottest summers. A sharp fall in production at the island’s
main brewery, Bucanero, a joint venture between the Cuban state and Anheuser-Busch InBev, at
the beginning of this year trickled
its way down the supply chain at
the worst possible time: during Cuba’s third-hottest summer
since 1951, causing consumers
and the communist state’s newly legalised private restaurants, or ‘paladares’, to ‘hoard’ it in the best capitalist tradition.
Job hoppers beware
Changing jobs once every two years can result in being labelled a ‘job-hopper’. While changing jobs is vital in climbing the ladder, almost 90 per cent of bosses said they were more likely to drop an applicant if they thought the person had moved around too much during their working life, according to a new study of finance bosses by recruiter Robert Half UK.
‘Be there dragons on the way?’
The Local Government Association has released
a ‘top 10’ list of unusual Freedom of Information requests submitted to councils and you have to sympathise with officials. Queries about plans to cope with a dragon attack or meteor shower, pet exorcisms and frozen animals are just some of the more bizarre topics.
Councils are also having to answer requests for information freely available on their websites, such as staff phone numbers. Commercial organisations are exploiting the system by seeking information on council suppliers and contracts, so they can bid for business.
Unusual requests included: what plans are in place to protect the town from a dragon attack? (Wigan Council); list the types of animals you have frozen since March 2012 (Cambridge City Council); and, how many people in the town have a licence to keep a tiger, lion, leopard, lynx or panther as a pet? (Scarborough Council).
Tweet of the month
Just hijacked this meeting by getting my supply chain colleagues and forecasters involved in a serious