Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 100 - November 2013 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: 6 minutes (average reader) - less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 1,360 To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us or read my book Brillaint Speed Reading.

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Welcome to the November 2013 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Issue 100 is a real landmark! Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

In this edition of the newsletter we have an article on Customer Service and Thinking in business, news of changes in Education and our regular features of quote of the month, What I’m up to and Mind Map Tip.


November's Quote of the Month

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

~ John F. Kennedy

More quotes here

What's Phil Up To?


Last month I told you that the Learning Technologies Ltd was undergoing changes. I can reveal the company behind Learning Technologies has been renamed as LTL Training Ltd. It is still business as usual. Everything else is the same.

The website for my new eBook, “How to Remember Equations and Formulae”, is now live. I’d love you to drop by and let me know what you think. More details in Education News below.

I’m off to Tokyo next week to co-train the ThinkBuzan Memory Instructor course with Tony Buzan. I’m very excited at what should be a great adventure - my first time to Japan.


Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Keep a scrapbook of ideas, inspirational quotes, articles and anything else that may be useful later. This allows you to capture thoughts when they happen but when you don’t have time to follow up or develop them. When you need inspiration you can go to your scrapbook and pick up one of these stored ideas. If you use iMindMap software you can create a very quick Mind Map overview and link the various files to the branches. This will give you quick access to you ideas store provided you don’t move or delete the files after setting up the links.

For 101 Top Tips see my book here.


Education News

Ofqual, the body that regulates the school curriculum in England, has announced a shake up of the GCSE curriculum. Under the new rules, coursework and modular exams will be dropped with children sitting exams at the end of a two-year course. There will be a new grading system and a far greater emphasis on memory. In maths students will no longer be given equations in the exam but be required to memorise them.

Help is at hand in the shape of my new eBook How To Remember Equations And Formulae:

  • Never forget an equation or formula ever again
  • Save time in exams, get the results you really deserve
  • Impress your tutors and potential employers
  • Stand out against others in the job market
  • Enhance your earning potential

Click here to learn more and download a free sample from the book.

See a brief video clip below from the BBC Six O'clock News of November 1st 2013 on the changes to GCSE exams.


Lessons from Thinking and Unthinking Businesses

I try to learn lessons form daily experience, so I would like to share a couple of events that have happened to me recently. About four miles from where I live there is a small independent supermarket. From the road it just looks like a petrol filling station. When you go in, there is a counter for payment on the right hand side and a post office on the left. As you continue further in there is a butcher. You keep going, round a corner, up a ramp and eventually enter the main shop. It has grown piecemeal over the years so is made up of various extensions and connected buildings. I tend to do most of my shopping at Sainsbury’s in the next town as I feel I get better quality and value. However, the local supermarket is occasionally useful for bits and pieces.

On this particular occasion I wanted to buy eggs, coleslaw and fisherman’s friend lozenges for my father. I found everything except the lozenges. There weren’t where I would expect to find them, in the toiletries and medicines aisle. I asked someone stacking the shelf and she suggested that they’d be in the petrol station part of the shop. I walked through the shop back to the front entrance, found what I was looking for on the petrol station counter and asked if I could pay. To which the sales assistant told me that I’d have to pay at the checkouts in the main part of the shop. As I’m English, I didn’t make a fuss and dutifully walked all the way back. I could understand if I had full trolley that could hold you the queue (though there wasn’t anyone waiting) or if the shop has to keep stock control separate, but I was able to take the lozenges between the two areas.

This adherence to seemingly irrational rules slightly peeves me.

An example of the opposite was shown by another recent experience. I have an account with an office supplies company. One of their selling points is that they have free next day delivery with no minimum order. Last month I only needed a ream of paper and a 2014 year planner. This was ordered and all was fine. When I received the invoice, it had a minimum order surcharge. This was odd, so I emailed my sales rep at the company. Very promptly, he called me and profusely apologised. He said that the company had introduced this minimum order policy due to increased delivery costs. Without hesitation he offered to tell the accounts dept to refund the charge and he would talk to his boss about making sure this didn’t happen again. I have since placed another order for several hundred pounds and continue to be a loyal customer.

The totally different attitudes reflect Rikki Hunt’s ‘Groundrules’ for developing a Thinking company culture described in his book, “Creating a Thinking Organization”. He has seven rules, three of which strike me as relevant in these situations…

Ownership – Hunt says, “Taking ownership of problems genuinely allows the creation of further opportunities. The ownership of problems is helped by an environment in which mistakes are allowed to be made without you being beaten up for them. But to earn that right you must first demonstrate that ownership”

Understanding – “We work hard to understand by listening to the position of each party in any of our relationships. We value differences and accept that they, like us, will have objectives and motivations.”

Can-Do attitude – “We are positive in looking for ways in which we can help each other do what we believe is right for the company. We can demonstrate that we consider alternatives.”

Clearly that sales rep from the office supplies company listened and understood my problem, took ownership of the issue and demonstrated the commitment to consider alternatives to find a solution to satisfy me.

On the other hand, the supermarket sales assistant (though it wasn’t her fault personally but rather the company culture) showed blind adherence to the rules without consideration for the situation. She abdicated any responsibility for helping me and certainly did nothing to make me more satisfied as a customer.

If you are in business, how do you or your staff care for your customers? Do you facilitate a can-do culture? Are your staff given sufficient autonomy and authority to take ownership of any issues that may arise? Do they strive to empathise and understand customers or clients? Even if you’re not in business these same basic rules apply as much to personal relationships as they do to commercial relationships. A thinking attitude to life helps us all get along far better and achieve more as a direct result!

That’s it for this month. I’ll be back in touch with the next newsletter in early December.

Best Wishes