16 10 2012

I am extremely proud to be working with the Royal British Legion on the first ever Run 2 Remember event and thought I would share a recent press release.

Military Wives Choir to open the Legion’s Run2Remember

The Military Wives Choir will be the special guests at a family fun run near Royal Wootton Bassett to support our brave Armed Forces community, and The Royal British Legion is urging people to sign up and join in.

Run2Remember takes place at 11am on Saturday 10th November in Lydiard Park just outside of Royal Wootton Bassett, and the Military Wives Choir will be performing their new single ‘Together we’re stronger’ to kick off the event.

The run is open to all ages and abilities and includes an 11km run and a smaller 1.1km run for those wanting to do a shorter circuit.

Some of those preparing to run include teams of current Service personnel, veterans, their friends and families, local schools and organisations, and other supporters of the Legion’s vital work.

Leading the runners will be Legion beneficiary and Former Private in the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment Aron Shelton, who had his left leg amputated after the vehicle he was travelling in hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Aron, was supported through his Disability Living Allowance tribunal by the Legion and successfully won his claim.

“The Legion has helped me – now I’m helping the Legion in return. I’m so proud to be starting the Run2Remember at Lydiard Park this year.”

The Legion’s Director of National Events and Fundraising Russell Thompson OBE said: “We’re inviting people to take part in Run2Remember to honour our Service community for their immense contribution and sacrifice.

“Whether you’re running to remember a lost loved one or as a show of support to those currently serving in Afghanistan – you’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with all who serve.”

Run2Remember will take place the day after the Afghanistan Heroes Field of Remembrance opens at Lydiard Park.

The Field of Remembrance is located in the Walled Garden, where approximately 35,000 Remembrance crosses, each with a personal message to those who have fallen during the Afghanistan conflict, will be planted.

For further information, and to take part in Run2Remember, visit the webpage


14 10 2012

Learning for your business?

The dispute between the Football Association (the FA) and John Terry has received lots of media coverage and comment from both the well-informed and the ignorant alike and it is not my intention in this article to add comment on ground already covered. However, unnoticed by (it appears) everybody in the eagerness to report the headlines were a couple of instances of poor practice from the FA which, if other organisations were made aware of, could provide good examples of where common mistakes could (and should) be fixed.

Inward-Facing or Outward-Facing?

On the eve of the hearing John Terry issued a statement that the FA’s case against him made his position as an England player untenable and announced his retirement from international football.

The FA was, apparently, bemused by this decision. The Independent reported that the FA’s General Secretary Alex Horne was interviewed on 24th September outside Wembley by Sky Sports News and told them; “I don’t see how we’ve made it untenable – they’re two very separate processes. It’s something that happened in a match between QPR and Chelsea ….. That’s a very different process, from my perspective, from our England procedures. They sit in different compartments and I could separate the two in my mind. But unfortunately, it doesn’t look like he could.”

This is an attitude which is, frustratingly for many consumers, becoming all too commonplace in companies in all sectors. It is the difference between being an ‘inward-facing’ or an ‘outward-facing organisation.

What does that mean?

The inward-facing organisation understands its own needs, its own processes and its own structures but takes little time to examine how they appear, or even work, for the external party – for example a customer. As long as everything works for them, for their convenience the world is rosy. If the customer doesn’t understand, well then, it’s the customers fault or problem. We can probably all think of examples of this type of company.

The outward-facing organisation, on the other hand, examines all their processes and structures from the end-users perspective. The customer’s experience is at the forefront of all thinking and, as a result, the company is far more likely to be ‘user-friendly’ – a joy to engage with. Sadly, we can probably think or far fewer examples of this type of organisation.

Re-read Alex Horne’s comments to Sky Sports News and you see a typical inward-facing thinking process. What he effectively says is; “We understand our own structure and where one department ends and another begins. It is clear to me.” What he forgets is that outside the FA’s front door what most see is ….. the FA, not its various departments. I wonder how many times FA employees get frustrated with other organisations that operate in the same inward-facing way. Frequently, I’m willing to wager. I also wonder how frequently they equate their negative experience with other organisations with their own. Very seldom, if ever, seems a fair bet.

And what of your company, what of the organisation you work for? Which are you? How often do you look in the mirror and reflect on whether your processes, your structures are designed in an outward or inward-facing way?

Discriminatory Behaviour.

Interestingly, given the John Terry case had at its roots a serious allegation relating to an area of equality, the second piece of poor practice from the FA related to their ignorance in an area of ….. equality!

It might seem sensible if handing out a ruling on an equality issue to ensure that the way in which that ruling was published was itself not discriminatory.

The ruling (published here) was written from start to finish in a ‘serif’ font – that is one of those fonts with the little lines above and below letters (like Times New Roman or Courier). I’m sure you are thinking; “yes Jim, just like hundreds of documents I read every day,” and you would be right. But while those documents might also discriminate, they are not publishing rulings on a case relating to equality, the FA was and should have been aware.

In publishing the document in this style the FA had given scant consideration to those who are dyslexic, recognised as a disability under the 2010 Equality Act. The British Dyslexia Association’s style guide suggests using a plain, evenly spaced sans-serif font such as Arial and Comic Sans. Alternatives include Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Trebuchet.

Not uncommon mistakes but now you are aware (as the FA should have been) you can act to make your own communications far more easily read to a significant minority of the population. Not to do so would be inward-facing, putting your own convenience ahead of your customer and potential customer (is changing font really that difficult?). Not to do so would potentially cut the reach of your communications possibly reducing your sales. Now that you know, not to so would also be discriminatory.

In publishing its ruling in the style that it did, the FA broke its own Equality Policy, it potentially discriminated against a group of people defined by the law as disabled. But then, as an inward-facing organisation, they can read their own communication, what does it matter if some others can’t?

What about you and your business? Are you any better? Have you checked?


(Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and colour-blindness are all closely related. Together, an estimated 10% of the population have one or a combination of them).

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, October 2012

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Twitter @cowanglobal


3 10 2012

A couple of weeks ago the government announced its 2012 Legacy Plan. You might have blinked and missed it because, it seems, only the BBC thought it worthy of reporting. This is the plan that many experts, myself included, have been calling for. So why so little coverage, why so little interest?

Initiativeitis in place of integrated strategy?

Although it is to report the supposed arrival of something I have long called out for, this will not be one of my longer blogs and, depending on your view, neither will it be one of my most interesting.

On 18th September the BBC reported; “London 2012 legacy plan published.” At last, I thought. Over seven years after our then government promised it to the world and over two years after Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson promised us that a national strategy for the development of sport existed (but could not produce it) we were finally going to have something to start seriously delivering on the promises and the sound-bites.

Only we weren’t. Reading below the headline, the ’10 point plan’ the government announced and the BBC reported on wasn’t new (or news) at all. It was a rehash of existing initiatives bundled together in an attempt to give the impression of a new plan.

Maybe I had it wrong. Surely the BBC hadn’t resorted to carrying repeats of old news as well as old TV programmes? But they had.

The reason the announcement was not considered newsworthy by most of the nation’s media is simple. It wasn’t newsworthy. All that the announcement contained was a list of existing initiatives repackaged to look like something new.

Initiativeitis continues apace. The long-promised strategy is still awaited. Nothing has changed.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, October 2012

Read more blogs by Jim Cowan

Twitter @cowanglobal