It’s all change. The inflection in the economy is bringing a total revamp in everyone’s lives. Look at the growth figures for UK supermarkets. Waitrose, the 2007 darling as we all moved ‘high end’ is down 0.7% while the non-brand discounters are up 10-25%.
If you’ve not felt it yet, embrace it. That means beards, wigs, house moves. They all put you in a very different frame of mind. Tell me about it – but, no, I’ve not grown a beard yet. Certainly, new perspective does amazing things.
Archimedes bath continues to be a significant theme. Displacement. You run a bath to the brim. Sit in it. There’s a flood of water elsewhere… same in the economy. We’ve got to eat, but we’re less bothered about organic, ‘high end’ muesli when we can get porridge oats at 6p per 100g. Porridge and displacement are very energising.
Stefan Stern in the FT Business Life talks about the “Hawthorne Effect” an experiment in the 1920s that proved small changes in working conditions improved performance (cliche to live by – qed, durrr: A change is as good as a rest). Obviously, my eyes pricked up when I see his column asking ‘what’s the big idea?‘
If you aren’t getting enough change, try the old surveyor’s schoolboy lesson – walk a different way to work. Even this is making the scale of the crunch fall from my eyes. I have followed Engine Group, an erstwhile Loewy competitor, for some time. I knew they’d taken a plum lease on some tidy real estate at some time prior to Northern Rock. Until a recent change of my route to work, I hadn’t realised they’d taken effectively a whole block in Noho. Good luck to them in 2009 with that rent bill hanging onto their cost base.
Hey, but don’t forget, taking a different route to work these days, also means checking out the digital superhighway. Engine has a very tidy digital shopfront. Top end. And, in most walks of life, we’re still aspiring to top end, even if we’re gobbling porridge!
Talking digital. And, straying from the path. And, displacement in response to changed stimuli. It’s amusing to see Lucy Kellaway riffing on the growth of City Types now piling into extra-marital dating sites like Illicit Encounters. She wandered there ‘in research for a book’ only to find that a swathe of City folk are now seeking solace on someone else’s pillow because they aren’t getting enough risk in the markets. To be sure, LinkedIn is having a high growth spurt at the moment, but I kindof doubt that the crunch is really making infidelity big. All this porridge, though… perhaps… but not with overweight Welsh dragons, surely?
ps. National newspapers = dead meat. So the analysts and commentators say. So, stray away from the print edition and you find that Lucy Kellaway’s article doesn’t include hyperlinks. If I can master this – and it increases my online traffic multifold… then the FT doesn’t deserve to survive the ‘Next Phase’, despite the quality of the commentators.