Friday, 24 August 2012

Newsletter Issue 222, August 2012

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 222, August 2012

Hi guys,

How do you ensure fairness when Making Hard Decisions? Do you have a framework to use? Check out some ideas below.

We take a look at telecoms company pricing... ah... strategies coming to an end across the Tassie in Confusopoly

Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Making Hard Decisions

We often have to make hard - and sometimes unpleasant - decisions.

The really tricky part is being able to make calls that are going to upset some other people, will have repercussions in other's lives, and know that you will have to live with the consequences of your actions.

When that happens, luckily, there are a few frameworks that we can use to provide some structures to consider and rehearse our decisions or our actions before we have to take them.

Firstly I use a "who benefits?" set of questions which I developed myself. We ask them in the following order:

  1. If x happens, do I benefit? How?
  2. If x happens, does the other main person benefit? How?
  3. If x happens, does the remainder of group benefit? How?

If the answer is no or yes to all, then it is usually easy to determine what to do; if the result is a 2 & a 1, we have some more thinking to do... 

So what other type of thinking to use?

Well, firstly, Kiwis Marjolein Lips-Wiersma and Lani Morris have written a book entitled "The Map of Meaning; a guide to sustaining our humanity in the world of work" which presents a moral development model with key foci of work satisfaction and sustainability. The authors suggest that when we are trying to make hard decisions, we should ask ourselves the following questions (2012, p. 22):

  • "When do I ask myself 'what is the right thing to do?'? In what situations do I forget to ask this question?
  • "When did I last think about the right thing to do in a situation? When did I do the right thing? Why did I make this choice?
  • "How does what I think is right relate to what others might think is right - at work? In other areas of my life?
  • "What in my work encourages me or discourages me to do the right thing?
  • "What are the conditions in organisations that support or damage moral development?"

The idea is that the answers those questions provide us, will then ensure that we do no harm, build our own work satisfaction, and lead to a sustainable moral development culture in the workplace. Question three helps us double-check if we are 'judging' on our own beliefs (in 'other areas of my life'), or using the organisation's morals ('at work').

If that doesn't work, another structure to try is Daft's Ethical Action Guidelines to use Power & Politics (Daft & Pirola-Merlo, 2009), which is also a list of questions to ask ourselves in order:

  1. Is the action consistent with the organisation’s goals, rather than being self-motivated purely by self-interest?
  2. Does the action respect the rights of individuals and groups affected by it?
  3. Does the action meet the standards of fairness and equity?
  4. Would you wish others to behave in the same way if the action affected you?

We will probably have a pretty clear idea what to do, after working through that process!



Lips-Wiersma, Marjolein & Morris, Lani (2012). The Map of Meaning; a guide to sustaining our humanity in the world of work. UK: Greenleaf Publishing Ltd

Daft, Richard L. & Pirola-Merlo, Andrew (2009). The Leadership Experience (First Australia-Pacific Edition). Australia: Cengage


NZ Consumer magazine has just reported on what telecoms companies are famous for; "confusopoly" pricing that is so hard to follow that "you almost need a maths degree to work out if you can get a better deal by switching" (Consumer, 2012). I'm usually confused - are you?

Consumer opened the piece with the juicy fact that apparently our very own Teresa Gattung founded 'confusion' as a key Telecom marketing strategy here in New Zealand.

However, Consumer also reports that in Australia, the government is attempting to tackle confusopoly by requiring telecoms companies to display "unit prices" on mobile phone ads for (a) a two-minute national call, (b) a standard text and (c) 1Mb of data. There are other rules and regulations coming in as well, but this clear pricing structure really pinned this to the wall for me.

What a fantastic idea!

Roll up, New Zealand, we too should climb on this band wagon. And hey, I betcha that hardly ANY New Zealand telecoms providers will want to play in this game, with these rules.

Watch this space :-)

Reference: Wilson, Jessica (August 2012). Legal Rights Report: Misleading Prices - Confusopoly. NZ: Consumer. Retrieved 15 August 2012 from

How to Round Hours in Excel

Suppose you wanted to have a spreadsheet with an hours elapsed calculation - say for a time sheet. If you do that in Excel using a time format, you will end up with tail-end values in odd minutes, not in quarter hours.

However, TechRepublic has a solution to that - using an Excel rounding formula. Excel’s MROUND(value,multiple) will round elapsed time up, away from zero, if the remainder of dividing value by multiple is greater than or equal to half the value of your specified interval.

For a base example:

  • In A2 you have a start time of 8:07am
  • In B2 you have a lunch break of 0 minutes
  • In C2 you have an end time of 5.00pm
  • in D2 you have a total hours of 8:53

If you used MROUND, you could round that to the closest quarter of an hour by adding column E to hold your total rounded hours, and creating a cell to hold your rounding 'period'. You then need to enter the following formula into E2 =TIME(HOUR(D2),MROUND(MINUTE(D2),$F$1),0). So your cells now look like this:

  • In A2 you have a start time of 8:07am
  • In B2 you have a lunch break of 0 minutes
  • In C2 you have an end time of 5.00pm
  • in D2 you have a total hours of 8:53
  • In E2 you have a total rounded hours of 8:45

Copy the formula down into your other row cells. If your results don’t look correct, double-check that F1 is still an absolute reference (ie, $F$1).

Check out TechRepublic's original article plus an always round down and an always round up option at

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:

  • CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. A psychotherapy which deals with clients' dysfunctional and self-defeating thoughts, emotions and behaviours, challenging their patterns and beliefs, and replacing a skewed world view for a more realistic, more positive one.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys

Last time we looked at panes in Word; this time we look at shortcuts to use with panes (window splits) in Excel:

  • Excel "Move to the next pane in a workbook that has been split" F6
  • Excel "Move to the previous pane or move to the previous pane in a workbook that has been split" Shift & F6

Hot Linx

If you are a Firefox user, then you might want to see if you have all the 'hot' downloads on Mozilla's top eight list. View the list at

Is there a link between quietness and productivity? See what Roberta Matuson has to say at

Download the Nelson Multicultural Council's "Ten Ways to Eliminate Racism" poster and use it as a reminder of what we should all be doing to foster diversity in our communities! Forgive the spelling, and check it out at

Some interesting research about our anthropological heritage: Africans ARE different to the rest of the world's peoples, as apparently on the way out of Africa, the rest of us stopped to intermarry with Neanderthals. Article at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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