The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Does HR = Human Remains?
July 24, 2006, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Comment

Today I got contacted by the HR department of a Multi-national asking if I’d like to ‘… come and have a chat’ with them.

Being a pain-in-the-arse, I asked why would I want to do that given I have lots of friends who talk to me all the time.

After a massive pause, they said they wanted to find out if I’d be interested in joining their organisation – and if I was, the CEO would like to meet me.

So this got me thinking – what exactly do HR departments do?

In this example [which unsurprisingly, I said an emphatic ‘NO’ to] they were basically secretaries trying to organise a meeting between 2 people … but surely there is more to it than that?

Well yes there is, but it seems in the majority of cases, HR is more about ‘management protection’ than ’talent nurturing’. 

There’s a great article about this in the Australian Newspaper, The Age [click here] … but I think the real issue is that HR Departments have little power … politically and financially … so they’re always going to be more about ‘maintaining the status quo’ than changing it.

Great companies are not about processes, they are about people … so having a department that represents employees hopes, dreams and aspirations makes commercial sense … but if all that department actually does is handle ’annual evaluation forms’ and ’holiday leave’ then what they are actually doing, is showing their employees that they don’t really value them at all.

Sure it is difficult if you have tens of thousands of people in your company … I’m not saying it isn’t … but until HR starts to attract people who not only want to make a difference, but have the power to do it [like an internal Union – but one that isn’t focused just on working conditions and salaries] – then they’re going to continue to be about as effective [and as trusted] as a local government planning department.

The Orphan Banana.
July 20, 2006, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Comment

I saw a single Banana in Starbucks today and he looked so lonely …

Was he missing his better looking [straighter?] mates or was he curling up to keep warm? 

Don’t worry, he’s alright now. He’s in my tum!

Interestingly, if our yellow friend wasn’t on his own, I probably wouldn’t have wanted him. 

Maybe greengrocers should only ever have one piece of fruit/veggie on display, because then they’ll appeal to the otherwise Fruit-Phobics.

Advertising Is Full Of Wankers. Official.
July 20, 2006, 11:36 am
Filed under: Comment

My other half generally dislikes people in advertising … she thinks most of them are arrogant wankers who speak in corporate, buzz-words. 

I wouldn’t mind, but she’s a bloody designer – the World Champions of talking utter toss.

Anyway, while ‘debating’ the merits of our respective industries, she decided to give an impression of an advertising person at a meeting. Oh dear!

To hear it, click on the pic above and apologies for the quality … and the content!

How Confident Are You With Your Sexuality?
July 19, 2006, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Comment

As seen in a Singaporean office tower!!!  What on earth were they thinking??? 

I hate to say it, but this is reflective of a ‘Singaporean trait’ to do EXACTLY what they are told to do – regardless of whether common sense is screaming it might not be the best solution. [ie: 2 toilets had to be fitted … so 2 toilets were fitted, despite the fact they would never be able to be used at the same time!] 

This attitude is unfortunately a by-product of a patriarchal society – where people have been ‘educated’ to simply ‘do as the authority says’.  Don’t get me wrong, Singapore is an amazing place that has had a lot of crap thrown at it by countries who haven’t got half as much to shout about – however it’s controlling attitude has had certain negative implications on society, gender integration and creativity. 

So why do the people follow the ‘rules’? 

Well, if your Government had changed your country from a breeding bed of crime, corruption and sin to one of global economic power, cleanliness, integration and calm – you’d believe they knew best too!

However the net is having a major impact on society … especially with the younger generation … because for the first time, they can see the hopes and dreams they held quietly inside, are not only legitimate – but can be made into a real, live, career.

Many parents are now claiming their children are becoming uncontrollable – because they are publicly acknowledging that a fulfilling future for them, is not dependent on having a white-collar job for 40 years.  This is so far removed from what their parents were brought up to believe that they [and to a certain extent, the Government] are totally freaking out, insinuating it’s the collapse of family respect and values!

And yet the truth is there’s no revolution … no rebellion … Singapore [like the rest of Asia] still operates on a value system based around filial responsibility … it’s just the youth believe they have more options for how they live their life and would like to ‘investigate them’ whilst still fulfilling their cultural duties.

I personally believe the Government needs to educate the country that creativity is the foundation for continued cultural, individual and nationalistic growth and prosperity.

At the moment, when you say ‘creativity’, people think you are talking about art or something – and yet, if truth be told, Singapore is one of the finest examples of creativity, because in just 40 years, it has come from absolutely nowhere to become one of the World’s true global financial centres, despite being the size of a currant on a map. 

In all seriousness, if things don’t change … not only will there be more awkward questions asked in every home throughout the country, but people will start to leave in their droves – seeking cultures where their hopes and dreams won’t be treated with distain. 

A perfect example was when I met a bunch of ad-students. I asked how many of them had parents who were disappointed with their choice of industry and one-by-one, most of them raised their hands.  I then asked how many had purposefully chosen Account Management or Planning as their favoured discipline [because it was more ‘business acceptable’ to their families] and again, most of them raised their hands.

Apart from the fact this is disappointing – especially if these individuals really wanted to be a copywriter/art directors – it will potentially damage the Asian ad industry, because the ones who don’t end up going overseas to work will probably end up more ‘business focused’ than ‘people focused’ and if that happens, communication in Asia will have more to do with McKinsey business models than engaging, creative communication. 

Of course I am being very generalistic – for example, Professor Mark Chong at SMU is a wonderful teacher who is encouraging his students to understand and appreciate all aspects of creativity – but he is definitely in the minority, which is amazing given Singapore has more ad-agencies [per capita] than anywhere else on Earth.

The success of this country has been down to many factors – but creative thinking and vision are two of the main ones – so if people with these skills feel there is no future or respect for them and end up moving abroad, then I wonder what Singapore will look like in another 40 years? 

[Wow, all this from a photo of 2 toilets shoved close together!]

Truth In Advertising. Sort Of.
July 18, 2006, 6:46 pm
Filed under: Comment

“Always A Pleasant Surprise” … the strapline to Pizzahut Singapore’s advertising campaign. 

Ignoring the fact ‘pleasant’ hardly inspires confidence that you’re going to have a great time at their restaurant … what the hell are they doing using the word, ‘SURPRISE?!!’

You don’t use that word where food is concerned – though in Pizzahut’s case, I applaud they’re basically saying ‘It’s Not As Shit As You Thought’. [Even though it is!]

I look forward to other campaigns in a similar vein like … Garuda Airlines: ‘We Haven’t Crashed For Ages’ or McDonalds: ‘As Eaten By Chubbies’ – any other suggestions?