Category Archives: News

The end of corporate stakeholders

After a seeming eternity of struggle, mankind has finally defeated the Undead. On a momentous day for humanity, the forces of goodness and light at last succeeded in banishing the Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies from the face of planet Earth.

This has led to widespread celebration, as the world renounces its collective fear of the dark, however there is one small segment of society who actually find themselves out of a job. Business stakeholders, stalwarts of commerce for decades, have all been made redundant.

“I never thought this day would come,” explains Stakeholder Trade Union President Peter Henderson. “When I went into Stakeholding 35 years ago, I thought it was a good stable profession, I thought businesses would always need people with stakes to protect against vampire attacks. Turns out I was wrong.”

Indeed this sentiment is widely observed across the industry. Once a key commercial focus, stakeholders would be situated all over organisations, and were regularly consulted and considered when decisions were made. However as vampires have become a less regular threat in recent years, the need for stakeholders’ services has been declining.

“We just haven’t had that many attacks recently, let alone attacks requiring a stake through the heart,” said one CEO, who asked to remain anonymous. “It was always good to have Stakeholders around, mainly for team morale, but for the last couple of years they’ve mostly been decoration.”

Consulting firms have also felt the effects. Strategy Consultant Jennifer Sibthorpe explains: “Interviewing the key stakeholders in the business used to be one of our core competencies, a real way we could add value, but as Count Dracula’s forces dwindled in number, that became less and less useful for our clients. It’s a shame, but businesses have moved on.”

Stakeholders maintain that they perform multiple other services, citing their expertise with both Garlic and Holy Water, but these services have struggled to gain traction outside now-defunct Undead protection departments.

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Business hires PR PR firm

Simeon Software, an analytics software provider, has appointed Meetoo Media as its Global PR-PR partner. This does not affect its existing relationship with PR firm Able Agency, who currently hold a global multimedia mandate with the software company, responsible for all consumer and corporate messaging.

Ralph Simmonds, CEO at Simeon, explains: “We felt that we weren’t getting our message across to our PR partners at Able in a cohesive way, so they were struggling to do their job. Now, with Meetoo’s track record, we fully expect to increase engagement with our PR firm, across all social media channels.”

This is the latest in a long line of successes for Meetoo Media, who have built a “third sector” within advertising, helping businesses better communicate with their existing advertising and PR agencies. “Too many businesses these days rely purely on email to work with their PR agencies,” said Meetoo MD Lesley Lemon. “Instead, we work with our clients to engage their PR agency via Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and traditional media in order to better tell their story.  We’re really excited to start doing that with Simeon and Able.”

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Conference call goes smoothly

Teams from both sides were left puzzled today after a conference call went off without a hitch. The interim meeting between Simeon Partners, a consultancy, and their client Organic Taste Foods was scheduled to take place over the phone, and the conference call went perfectly.

“I’m gobsmacked to be honest,” said Simon Chambers, of Simeon Partners. “I knew something was up when everyone dialled into the conference call successfully and on time, but I never would have guessed that everyone would actually be audible, let alone that no one would talk over one another.”

Organic Taste Foods were similarly surprised. “There were no crossed wires at all, we understood just what they meant, first time. I found myself hissing down the phone to make up for the lack of distracting background noise!”

We contacted Audiomax, the conference call operator, who said that their engineers are looking into the issue.

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Outbreak of workplace friendship

A London investment firm has been incapacitated by an outbreak of friendship. Simeon Partners, an alternative asset management company, alerted the authorities as soon as the infection was detected.

“We didn’t hesitate,” explains Partner Jim Bonham, “we know how dangerous workplace friendship can be, so immediately took steps to combat further spread.”

It soon became clear that the root of the problem was amongst new members of the Grad scheme. Despite trying to interact exclusively as detached professionals, trainees Peter Finch and Nicholas Ince accidentally got to know one another beyond the usual workplace pleasantries. Given its infectious nature, friendship quickly spread, and soon a number of the graduates began to like each other as people, not merely assessing each other as productivity centers.

HBR spoke with Peter: “I’m not sure how it started, but stilted small talk became meaningful conversation, and we began to talk about things we actually cared about. When we realized it was happening it was already too late.”

It wasn’t long before multiple members of Simeon were going out for non-compulsory after-work drinks, and even seeing each other at the weekend. Friends and family were quick to express their concern, with Nick’s girlfriend particularly perturbed. “It just seems weird to me, choosing to spend time with your colleagues when you don’t absolutely have to,” she explained.

Simon Hodgson, Managing Partner at Simeon, says that the main issue is that due protocol was not followed. “In the event of a friendship in the workplace, our HR policy requires those involved to communicate it, which did not happen in this case. We were left with no choice”. For the time being, the relevant parties have been quarantined in an attempt to suppress further spread, but Snapchat communication is proving problematic, with the Grads communicating extensively via a range of Emojis.

“Who knows,” wonders Simon, “they may actually form a meaningful lifelong friendship, after meeting as colleagues. I hope not for their sake though, what an embarrassing story to tell the grandkids.”

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Hawthorne Helpdesk bans Facebook

Employees at Hawthorne Helpdesk had reportedly been spending too much time on social media and streaming videos, prompting management to block the websites altogether.

“It’s a real pain, actually,” explains Account Executive Harry Simkins. “I used to spend about 60 percent of my time trolling people on Youtube comment threads, but now username 14yroldboybutbetterthanyou is lying dormant.”

However rather than the boost in productivity that management hoped for, the move has actually just increased the range of online extra-curriculars. “It’s so annoying, I’ve been forced to start reading improving articles just to get through the day,” says Executive Assistant Amy James. “I’ve even started taking Mandarin courses, when all I want to be doing is judging my friends’ beach bodies on Facebook.  Those mean comments won’t write themselves”.

The change has had severe negative effect on some members of the office. Sales rep Jim Wilson has been particularly struggling. “I’m becoming so well rounded as a person,” he tells HBR, “I’ve completely lost the ability to do banter with the boys. If I learn another useful and interesting fact I think I’ll go mad.”

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Driverless cars LikeHumansDo

Championed by tech giant Google, driverless cars are widely purported to be the future of the road transport industry.  However not everyone is in favour of the driver-free revolution, with some members of the public expressing concerns around privacy and more importantly safety.

While some may see this lack of wholesale acceptance as a barrier for the industry, some manufacturers are addressing these concerns head on.  LikeHumansDo is a driverless car manufacturer based just outside Cambridge, part of so-called Silicon Fen.

Founder Ben Rickman started making driverless cars in 2012, after several years spent as a Postdoc at the University of Cambridge’s Engineering Department. His aim was to build a computer that could act as the ‘perfect driver’, and his creation, e-Fred (after Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred) was more than up to scratch, with a flawless record in all public road tests.

However after speaking to members of the general public at various trade shows, he was dispirited. “They just didn’t trust the computer as much as a human being,” explains Ben. “It soon became clear that we would have to re-focus on creating a driverless car that drives exactly like a person.”

Ben and his team approached their task with renewed vigour, building additional features on top of the original e-Fred prototype. “We started with the basics, building in a tiredness feature that would steadily reduce alertness over time. We also found we could perfectly mimic a driver taking his eyes off the road by periodically turning off all e-Fred’s sensors.”

Over a painstaking period of months, LikeHumansDo developed road rage, late indication and occasional drunk driving into e-Fred’s arsenal. The driverless car’s performance in public road tests went down accordingly, much to the team’s pleasure. “Where previously we had no accidents, our car is now performing precisely at the level of an average human,” said Ben, describing the vehicle lovingly as “a danger to itself and other drivers.”

The car is still in the final testing stages, but overall Ben is delighted: “It even blows its horn when older drivers are slightly slow to pull off from traffic lights, and will occasionally stall in the middle of a junction. e-Fred is a car that your everyday driver can relate to, and I’m sure they will sell like hotcakes.”

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