Trump’s first Katrina moment

March 15, 2017


As a great snow storm threatens America’s heartlands, the President considers an appropriate leadership response.His briefing team has supplied him with a range of options
Option 1
say all news of the storm is false and show photograph of President enjoying sun on beach in Miami

Option 2
make snow disappear, bigly, from a helicopter
Option 3
find snowed-in family and rescue them single-handed from husky-sled with Trump-branded merchandise
Option 4
increase tweet rate commensurate with seriousness of storm
Winter of discontent
Option 5
release the best tax payment year document
What not to do
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans with devastating effect, in February 2006, President Bush showed he cared by flying over the region. He was criticized for failing to show enough empathy. The image of the POTUS, safe and smug overflying the disaster zone,  turned out to be a PR personal mini-disaster.
He had been slow in postponing his holiday in Texas, and he and his administration were accused of politicizing the storm in a region with a Democratic governor.

The event was later referred to as a watershed in his leadership ratings, and his missed opportunity to show respond adequately in person, and subsequently in taking decisive action.
Defying the snowflakes
Leadership is often symbolic. Mr Trump has an opportunity to show his undoubted flair for the immediate big gesture. to defy a billion snowflakes.

Brain-busting for new ideas

March 13, 2017

I recently tried to come up with the name for an evil villain in a piece of fiction I was writing

After a few days without satisfactory results, I found myself falling back on a simple method of brain-dumping, brain-busting, or to use a more recent term a bit of mental deep-diving.

Here are my unedited free-associations.

The task:

To find a name for someone described as a shrunken desiccated husk of a man, from whom all joy and juices have drained away. He is clearly of the lizard family. he has the unblinking eyes and bloodless lips of the undead. There is a sinister, frightening, inhuman power about him.

When no name came to mind

I have long advocated the principle of freewheeling, trying to capture fleeting thoughts on paper (or, in this case on my aging iPad. The justification is that some kind of jolt is required. Various techniques are well-known and catalogued over many years. What follows is not offered as evidence for the success of what I did, but as an illustration of the word-salads produced

The Word Salad

Shrek, Desmond Dry, Redmond Drivel, Blister, Tylor, Sinfield, Zac


The Pustular Gaston Groap

Plunge Biggedrake, Peter Plugge,

Pustule Puckle Puce Puldge Pulge Glute

Gaston Glute Pleute

Gaston de Pleute

Milton William Polder, Milt Polder

Gryce Polder




Norbut Puce

Oliver Puce (aka Pustule Puke).

Choose wisely

How to choose? It is easier if you have a list of barriers or criteria for reaching a short-list of ideas. The might include Novelty, Appropriateness, Absence of obscene implications.

What happened next

I successfully escaped my temporary brain-freeze.  I will reveal what happened next, in a future posting.

Before that, I invite students of all ages to suggest how they might have joined in the brain-bashing, if they had been invited to do so.

Alternative suggestions are welcome, and will be acknowledged in the appropriate place (particularly if they assist me directly or indirectly in my immediate need for a name for my fictional villain).

See also

My recent note on dreaming up and selecting names, written at the time of the Boaty Mc Boatface news story


When the impossible becomes the inevitable

March 9, 2017



A football match between Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain has become hailed as one of the great fight-backs in sporting history. I examine it as a magical experience in which the impossible was transmuted into the inevitable

The match was a knockout played over two legs, in the prestigious European Champion’s Competition. Barcelona went to Paris for the first leg two weeks ago, as favourites to win, and one of the favourites to win the entire tournament. The first leg was sensational, as PSG produced an exceptional performance, sweeping aside a sluggish Barcelona 4-0. As football fans know, away goals in this competition have extra value. Any draw of 4-4 or fewer goals will mean PSG wins the tie. Pundits write off Barcelona’s chances after the first leg. Statistics show a very low chance of Barca scoring five without a PSG response, or six if PSG were to score a single goal.

The Impossible dream?

The match is reported on news feeds, and on the BT Sport channel in the UK.

Stevie Gerard on BT Sport at the start of the return leg see he was hoping for a miracle and for Barca to win. [I wonder how that slipped through at rehearsal.]

Barcelona began with their world-class attackers in better form. A goal after three minutes brought that faint hope if pressure could be converted into quick goals. Then a reprieve for the Spanish team, as PSG are denied what was consider by the pundits as a clear penalty.  Then after 20 minutes, an own goal makes in 2-0 on the night, and faint hope is fanned into stronger life.

Another penalty shortly after half time and Messi makes it 3-0. Now faint hope is turning into belief. Barcelona are creating chances and seem more likely to score.

A setback

A foul and a high ball converted by PSG’s main striker Cavani. 3-1 but now the dream is fading, as the requirement is up to three more goals from Barcelona, and time is running up.

Three minutes to full time

A brilliant goal from a free kick for Barcelona, but only three minutes left before full-time. 4-1, which is 4-5 on aggregate. At 5-5, PSG would still win through the away goal. The away goal is working for them. The atmosphere has been cranking up, and hope has been replaced by belief.  PSG remain under pressure, as if awaiting the inevitable.

Only a few minutes of added time remains, when the slightest of contact produces a spectacular tumble by Luis Suaraz, a great player and useful gymnast in the fall-down category. 5-5

So near and yet so far?

Five minutes of extra time. Ridiculous tension. Thrills all in the PSG half, but the five minutes creep on.  Will the impossible dream remain impossible?

Of course not

In the last moments, yet another free kick. As if by some spell, the defenders cannot move to prevent an attacker re-materializing and striking the ball home. They are spellbound. Barcelona ahead, and the final whistle goes, hardy heard above the thunderous wave of noise engulfing the stadium


Yes, I see it just so. What happened may have had a reality in a mundane world. I hold on to a wondrous story described in magical terms by observer, going viral at the time.

The rapid reaction around the sporting world suggests the game is acquiring mythic status. It is a magical story  that will be remembered and re-invented in the retelling. It is the old fireside tale of how the impossible turns into the inevitable.

Interested in Creativity?

March 7, 2017


I am pleased to provide this information sent to me by Professor Kamel Mnisri, a long-time contributor and subscriber to Leaders We Deserve

As a participant in the first conference, I can recommend the mix of backgrounds of participants, the richness of contributions, and the excellent ‘fringe events’ due to the location of the conference [T.R., Editor LWD].

Please pass this information on to your own contacts.


With reference to the great success of the first Artem OCC in Nancy in 2015 we would like to announce the second edition of the Artem international conference on Organizational Creativity and Sustainability which will be held in Nancy, France, from 14 to 16th September 2017.

We intend to pursue the discussions initiated during the last edition, as well as exploring new paths. As such, our objective is to bring together scholars and professionals in areas such as engineering, arts and management to further examine and develop the topic of creativity and sustainability in its different dimensions.

Our intention is to approach the topic of creativity and sustainability from different disciplinary and thematic perspectives in theory and practice. We welcome disruptive approaches that challenge the mainstream perspective on organizational and social arrangements and the manner these can solve environmental, social, and economic problems.


Conference co-chairs: Nuno GUIMARAES DA COSTA, Stefan HUESIG, Kamel MNISRI, Klaus-Peter SCHULZ and Paul SHRIVASTAVA.

Theme: “Facilitating sustainable development through a variety of creative approaches”.

Call for papers: click here to download it.


Artem is an unprecedented transdisciplinary alliance between the Ecole nationale supérieure d’art et de design de NancyICN Business School and Mines Nancy.

Love the books, loathe the day

March 2, 2017

Yesterday I was in a fine local bookshop, watching a grandfatherly figure being helped to choose a book for a six- year-old. It was for the upcoming World Book Day

It is an admirable idea for children to be encouraged to love books. This week is, I learn, children’s book week, within which there is World Book Day, at or around the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen

The creative floodgates

Give the advertising tootie-fruities an assignment to publicize the day, and the creativity floodgates open, to the betterment of a generation of children. It offers the promise of a culturally-enriched future. It also works to the betterment of the book trade. Then again, the beneficiaries are vendors of expensive Book Day kiddie’s outfits.

Cue for school gate displays of wealth and who loves you most strutting by parents.

Do something booky

Do something booky, urged one ad, it seems that involves offering the purchase of expensive garments of the fancy dress variety.

Such marketing hype worked for Mothering Sunday, Father’s Day, Halloween, ( Father’s day in November), and Sesquicentennial Day.  OK, I made that last one one up, but who knows for the future?

Children’s Book Day is heading for major league status. My guess is that the fancy dresses will outsell books soon, by a midsummer night dream of a figure.

Trump and Mental Health: An Alternative Truth?

February 28, 2017



The increasingly discussed matter of the mental health of President Trump brings to mind an extensive study into eccentrics and mental illness


The Guardian introduced the topic describing the President’s coping mechanisms for denying unpleasant news. [Trump denies presidency in state of chaos, Guardian, February 17]

Other reports report his refusal to confront media (purveyors of fake news), for example, and general repeated assertions of what is increasingly described as alternative truths.

Not ill, but in denial

One possibility is that the President is not mentally ill, (in the sense that such illness is a form of destructive self-harm). Rather, the delusions of Mr Trump are health-protective, avoiding the traumatic consequences of damage to self-image. It should be noted that socially, such individuals may well induce mental and physical ill-health on others, but that is another story.

Eccentric behaviours

This is where our understanding of people classified as eccentrics does enter the story. Some years ago, following analysis of over a thousand individuals, researchers concluded that eccentrics were less likely than the general public to require treatment for mental illnesses. Some subjects of the study were thoroughly delusional, which permitted them a life protected from the sufferings of many considered more normal.

A national study from Scotland captured remarkable lifestyles of self-defined eccentrics taking fascinating forms. (I have lost my notes on this study, and would welcome suggestions for retreiving it).

Being ill and causing illness

Ironically, in a another article the same day, the Guardian reported on the occupational hazards and proneness to mental illness, burn-out and stress, suffered by many cancer specialists around the world. Here, it is the carers as well as the victims, who suffer

As Polonius noted, though there be madness, yet there is method in it.

Follow up

I have left uncited the remarkable number of news items about this subject on the web. The debate is now touching on the Goldwater Rule (that ‘experts’ as well as lay-persons are expected not to comment on the mental state of the POTUS)



Rainieri fired: A toxic default mode in football and other businesses

February 24, 2017


Less than a year ago, Claudio Ranieri crowned a successful and graceful career by leading Leicester City Football Club as their manager to the greatest upset in football history. At enormous odds , Leicester wins the premier league title. There is talk of a movie being made of the feat

The board of Leicester joins in global recognition and joy at the team’s astonishing success. A month ago, after half a season of disappointing results, the board gave him their full backing. Two days ago, his team again showed fighting spirit.  A day ago, the same board fired him ‘in the long-term interests of the club’.

Actions have consequences

It is a symptom of leadership failure often associated with abuse of power, and a lack of appreciation of long-term consequences of such actions.

A toxic default mode

The lessons from the past suggest it can become a toxic default mode in football. Aston Villa (‘deadly’ Doug); Newcastle (a hereditary flaw in a great culture); even Chelsea (whisper it, Roman Abramovich); and now last year’s local and global heroes Leicester.

‘Sad’ (As another well-known businessman, entertainment show host and would-be politician   likes to tweet).

Sad. Toxic. Rarely effective. Weakness masquerading as strength.