minimising risk...protecting reputation...maximising performance

PC logo RGB

By Peter Neville Lewis, Jun 19 2018 08:54AM

It was the best of times, it was the worst of was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

Charles Dickens’ opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities (1859) have a familiar (and ominous?) ring about them today. The Age of Enlightenment had triggered the French and American Revolutions and in England the Great Reform Bill of 1832. 1848 saw further upheavals across Europe as individual states sought national identities. The Industrial Revolution and scientific advances were changing the nature of economies away from a land based agrarian model. But the dark side of all this was Blake’s ”satanic mills”, appalling conditions for the poor in the new fast growing cities, child labour exploitation and the excesses of imperial expansion. And yet we still applaud the Victorians for their boldness, imagination and discipline as they re-invented the post 18th century model.

Today we have similar trends as the internet, social media, e-commerce, AI and global travel etc dis-intermediate the status quo – the best of times (for the winners) and the worst of times (for the losers). Wealth has been created on an unimaginable scale. The “haves”, the elite, the winners prosper but look around and the seeds of social disintegration are sprouting. Cyber attacks, abuse of private data, fundamentalism (to the right as well as the left), human trafficking, the refugee crisis, falling levels of trust etc etc.

Despite our technical advances, the best of times are being slowly swamped by what could turn out to be the very worst of times.The signs are there for all to see that the fabric of society has started to fray and in some places rot. Humankind cannot bear too much reality wrote another literary great, T S Eliot. Perhaps that is why we are getting so much fake news?

What has happened to moral progress though? Or religious and family values? How can humans regain their humanity, decency and respect? We desperately need some world leaders who can lead us to a better place – but do we have them?

Let us all hope that some great men and women (perhaps the key lies here?) emerge soon or Dickens’ winter of despair may start to take its toll.

Pedro the Jester

By Peter Neville Lewis, Apr 10 2018 08:17AM

Q: When is a PC not PC?

A: When he is a member of a male voice choir apparently!

The Derbyshire Constabulary Male Voice Choir has been told by the area Chief Constable that it must now accept WOMEN members or be disowned!!

YES – do read this again in case you didn’t get it first time round. Confused?

Hang on – there is a difference between the male and female voice or have I misunderstood all the operas I have attended over the years?

Maybe a good old fashioned bass singing Madame Butterfly is what I have been missing. And I never saw Maria Callas as Boris Godunov, intriguing as it might have been!

Oh dear...the world is tipping on its head and the history of creation and humanity is now being subsumed by gender neutrality.

So I suppose that’s the end for Gareth Malone’s Military Wives. Unless under our new legislation (same sex marriage constituting a new form of husband and wife) you could sneak in a male wife or two? Now, there’s a thought....

Crikey, how silly can you get?

On a more serious note look at what is happening in Norway, generally seen as the most gender equal nation in the world. Yet despite female quotas in business Norway does not rank high in the global league table.

Top is Latvia with 46% women managers and second is the US (you read this right!) with 43%.

Norway? Only 32%. Mmmm....

Denmark (with one of the largest welfare states in the world) comes in on 28%.

So forcing or legislating the PC model (in whatever form it may take) doesn’t seem to work quite as hoped for or intended.

Be careful what you wish for! Or we may have to ask Verdi to rewrite some of his most famous choruses.

Plod on!

Pedro the Jester

By Peter Neville Lewis, Mar 12 2018 02:34PM

“Disgraceful” is how Nicky Morgan describes the behaviour of RBS’s Global Restructuring Group which has bought shame to its perpetrators.

The Jester would go further! – helping yourself unethically to client assets is reprehensible and those responsible should pay the full penalty. Hopefully those responsible at RBS at the highest level will cop it!

Where though are (Sir - no more) Fred Goodwin, arch villain and cultural architect of the piece in his dash for growth and profit at all costs OR the weak Stephen Hester who never got to grips with RBS’s fundamental cultural issues before being moved on?

Are either of these two banking robber barons likely to carry the can?

No way!

Stuart Gulliver also moves on soon, leaving HSBC to cough up another $1.5 billion for misdemeanours around money laundering about which senior management claimed to know nothing.

Lloyds is still funding the PPI gravy train and Barclays is threatened with losing its licence over the Qatari loans (in both directions), apart from issues with their CEO over his own behaviour in seeking to “out” a whistleblower against the accepted code of conduct.

Sadly it’s all part of a never ending circular saga - big bank screws over its clients, breaks the rules, gets dinged by the regulators and crime agencies, admits failings, fires insignificant middle managers, accepts large fine and then continues its devious way to commit the next client frauds.

If the Jester had his way these dodgy dealers would be put in the stocks, to be pelted with rotten fruit outside the Bank of England, before locking up some of these reckless miscreants and banning the others from doing business in the City for a lengthy period. The ancient Greeks had a word (and a penalty) for those convicted of corrupt practices – Ostracisation. We should re-introduce this practice!

The financial and economic damage done by the big UK banks is colossal but so far nobody has been called to account.

Why are the Regulators and the SFO so pusillanimous? Who is protecting who?

Stop Press: A former Deutsche Bank trader named as a conspirator during the LIBOR rigging trial has reached a settlement with the City watchdog to close its investigation into him!

RBS Boss McEwan blames Goodwin culture for continuing fines - another $500M last week (see Evening Standard) Hmmm!

Disgraceful Nicky? That’s too kind - more like disgusting and it’s an outrage on civil society that has gone on too long.

Capitalism deserves better!

Banking provides the economic fuel for growth but if the bankers don’t clean up their act Corbyn’s cry that they are “suffocating the real economy” will only reach more receptive and already prejudiced ears.

Time is running out....the country cannot afford another banking catastrophe!

Pedro the Jester

By Peter Neville Lewis, Feb 2 2018 12:49PM

Karl Marx was born 200 years ago. Marx saw a world where capital subjugated labour for its own return.

Big business today is the ultimate expression of capital which spawns technologies that have increasingly little need for traditional labour.

So what, I hear you say, about all the jobs that will be displaced by automation? What has happened to the labour of Marx’s day, the factory workers born of the industrial revolution that he thought should overthrow the bourgeoisie? Nearly all gone (in the developed world) and getting better elsewhere, replaced by better and more effective ways of working. And… in the meantime, much of humanity has been lifted out of abject poverty.

2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity. A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. Every year, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by around 50 million, according to calculations by Max Roser, an Oxford University economist. Do the Corbynistas and their left wing allies elsewhere ever tell us this?

Let’s not seek to minimize the real struggles however, much less the real displacements that will come from new technologies. Yes there will be pain as these help the industrial and commercial world work better; more and more; eventually they will replace that old world completely.

This, though, is why it is worth remembering that the world is not static: to replace basic human labour is, in the long run, to free humans to create entirely new needs and the means to satisfy those needs. It’s what humanity has been doing for centuries, and the faith to believe it will happen again will be the best guide in figuring out how we navigate the challenges of the future.

Both the developed and under developed world of the 21st century are infinitely better places for humans to thrive in than was the case 100 years ago. Except for places like Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe etc where hopelessly misguided leaders following communist precepts have destroyed living standards for their people.

This is what Corbyn and his motley crew of Marxists, Trotsykites, Momentum followers and outright anarchists will do to us if we ever give them power!

Pedro the Jester

NB Acknowledgements to CapX for basic material for the above

By Peter Neville Lewis, Jan 18 2018 04:39PM

Here’s why Rationality and, by association, business planning often doesn’t work.

Consider these two well known experiments.

1. 10 people were assigned a random lottery ticket, 10 others were allowed to write the number of their choice on a blank ticket.

Before drawing the winner participants were asked how much they would sell their ticket for.

The Irrational answer for those with a chosen number was at least 5 times more than those holding random numbers.

But Rationally since it was a lottery every ticket had the same odds! Hmmm?

2. Soup cans are put on discount at a supermarket. Shoppers normally buy 3.3 cans on average.

But when there is a sign stating “offer limited to 12 cans” purchases go up to 7 average!

Psycologists call this an anchoring heuristic. In the first instance shoppers “anchor” on what they came to buy, but in the second they “anchor” on the 12 limit and adjust downwards.

Behavioural economics such as the above prove how predictably Irrational we can be in making what should be Rational decisions!

Does this happen in your organisation? Does the Rational get swamped by the Irrational and non-relevant “anchors”? Probably!

(For example Fairness and Integrity are part of every banker’s code yet....they sold us a fraudulent product called PPI!

So if this is a people “thing” what measures do you have to improve decision making and limit risk damage?

Pedro the Jester


Why The Corporate Jester?


Because there is always a need to “call it out”, point out the emperor’s clothes may not be quite so fancy as he thinks (or others are telling him) and boldly say what others dare not!


The role of court jester was well known centuries ago and they had the licence to attack pomposity or stupidity in their betters without fear of retribution. (Well nearly!) Many of Shakespeare’s plays have a fool who is the commentator on human foibles – the most famous probably being in King Lear, the architect of his own downfall through his wilfulness.  Familiar?


May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?  (Fool – King Lear, Act 1 scene 4)