Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back (again)

I know what you’re thinking – another “return to writing” post from the Hardly Business Review. But this time I can assure you I have a good excuse. Legal proceedings prevent me from going into the precise details, but I can say that for reasons completely unrelated to my tax status I have been living on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean for the last 6 months.

As such I’m afraid your typically topical correspondent is not fully up-to-speed on the state of the world (indeed today’s primary achievement was remembering my laptop password).

However I can only assume that things are as they were, with continuing globalisation & free movement, and liberalism in the ascendant. No doubt there is some change afoot; I would imagine the President-Elect is just finalising her transition plan, for example.

Which seems as good a place to start as any – let me just fire up Google and I’ll be up to speed as soon as anything!

Oh my.


Lines going up!

Serious looking people the world over rejoiced as squiggly lines on computer screens went up for the second day in the row.
After months of the lines on the screens going down, finally there has been some movement upwards. This made men in suits very happy, and lots of numbers and percentages were talked about accordingly.
The exact cause is unclear, with some attributing the direction of the lines on the screens to comments by an Italian video game plumber, and others saying it is something to do with some different lines on screens finally going up because of something related to petrol. Despite the widespread optimism, some are worried everyone is behaving too much like male cows, which seems unrelated but is apparently a concern. Regardless, we can only hope that this trend will prove to be long lasting.

WWW: Jonk

Where we Work (WWW) is a series looking at the modern day workplace, and the many new and innovative workspaces that today’s companies are using to inspire brilliance in their employees. Today we meet Jonk, a gluten-free on-demand pet-grooming service in London

Welcome to Jonk! Please don’t stand on ceremony with us, come right in. We operate a “door always open” policy here, so people are always coming and going; we think it adds a real energy to the place.

I see you’re admiring the glass windows, I’d love to take the credit for them, but they were put in well before we arrived. They do really help us keep in touch with the community, right on Silicon Roundabout.

And yes, your nose is not deceiving you, that is indeed an in-house barista in the corner. Very “East London Startup”, we do hate to conform to cliche, but I just love a cup of joe. I’m afraid you will have to pay though, we’re still bootstrapping round here! Two flat whites please, easy on the white, heavy on the sugar, careful with the joe, Joe. Ha! What am I like, his name isn’t even Joe. Thanks Jay.

I’m afraid I don’t have a private office, that’s sort of the point – it would really hinder the open, collaborative atmosphere that we try and cultivate here at Jonk. It’s important that I’m always accessible to the team. So much so that the whole organisation hot-desks, and it can be a nightmare getting a spot sometimes! We’re happy to be patient at Jonk though – when we wait we meditate. You’d think that CEO I should be able to pull rank, but I’d hate to cultivate that sort of atmosphere. Plus I don’t even recognise some of these people, which I suppose is the problem with meteoric growth!

There’s a spot – standing desks, at the bar, looking out the window. Great. And do log onto the wifi, free of charge! It’s mostly pretty good, but sometimes it struggles; I guess that’s what happens when you’ve got so much industrious coding going on. We live on Wifi here, too – no wired internet round here. That’s not the Jonk way, that and smooth Jazz, which you’ll hear playing on loop in the background. So soothing!

So yes! Thanks for coming down, and if anyone else wants to visit (or wants a job?), come on down to Jonk, off Old Street roundabout – glass windows, and the door says Starbucks. You can’t miss it – Jonk!

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Why things cause other things

We live in a data-driven world. Where the heroes of distant and more recent antiquity were exalted for their leadership instinct on the field of battle or in the boardroom, today’s bespectacled Masters of the Universe draw upon their skills of deduction and data analysis to make business decisions. The oft-discussed Big Data revolution should therefore have been a panacea, but has in fact muddied the waters, with as much signal as noise accumulating in countless server-farms across the world.

As a result one of the fundamental questions of business decision-making remains unanswered, namely what it is that underlies causation (“the causal relationship between conduct and result”). What fundamentally connects an input with an output? What thread connects and unites the two?

To answer this question, we turned to Search Giant Google’s publicly available search data, in the form of Google Trends. We began looking for search terms which were searched in a similar fashion to the term “causation”, reasoning that if people are searching for things in a similar way, there must be a fundamental connection between the two.

Our initial attempts were frustrating, with early favourite “insight” yielding little relationship, while “synergy” and “connection” met similar fates.

imageWe were on the edge of giving up, when our MBA intern, Jay, discovered an answer in an underrated outsider:


Correlation. Of course! With an R-squared of 0.82, we had our best match – correlation underlies causation. It made perfect sense, that the means we were using to investigate causation should underlie its very essence. After all, if one thing always happens at the same time as another thing, it stands to reason that the first thing is causing the second thing. That’s just common sense!

Jay later built on this finding to demonstrate that ice-creams cause sunburn, as if I needed another reason to stay off the Magnums!

Seriously though, I encourage your Data Analysts to build this fundamental shift into their day-to-day work, to better unpick what is really driving your business.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Reliability – does it consistently do the job it’s required to do?

Durability – is it likely to last a long time?

Appearance – is it easily identifiable?

Brand – is it from a reputable manufacturer?

Shear strength – is it resilient while twisting?

Compatability – does it match the lock?

Turnability – is it easily turned or does it sort of stick and require wiggling about?

Master – all hail the master key

Don’t call it a comeback

It is highly unlikely that this untended corner of the internet has caught anyone’s notice of late. If we were to mix our metaphors, we would say that the gardener fell asleep at the wheel last summer, and has somewhat taken their eye off the ball ever since.

If we were being more straightforward, we would say that we became rather busy and lost the habit.

Hopefully today will be something of a renaissance. Perhaps not a great fairytale comeback (no Jobsian delusions here, as fetching as we look in a black turtleneck). More the workmanlike return from sabbatical of the toiling professional.

Expect short pieces of variable quality, likely with even more variable regularity.

And mostly be kind.

Because we feel very out of practice