Author: Alex Ando
As normal life returns after the holidays, I find myself mulling over the festive period – the traditions, the time together, the food, the presents among others. As far as the latter are concerned, I don't know whether you find it a problem, but choosing a meaningful present for your nearest and dearest becomes increasingly difficult every year. As the kids become totally autonomous, with their own jobs and nascent families, there is so little they need or even want. So inevitably a book, which is usually a reflection of the givers preferences with the hope that the receiver will understand and even enjoy the choice, is what one goes for. And no bad thing!
Living abroad I am reliant on subscriptions to two magazines for in-depth news. Both publications form part of the system I scribbled about in my previous blog. Private Eye is a fundamental element in the checks and balances which, in my view, ensure the survival of a functional democracy in the UK, as is the Economist, which also plays a vital part in this ecosystem. Both also provide book reviews which are a way of keeping abreast of the literary life in the english speaking world. I have to admit that I always read the Economist from the back page (which is the obituary one of the best bits, actually). What follows (if “follows” is the right word when reading “backwards”) is the “Books and Arts section”. It was reading this many years ago that my wife and I found out about, and then read, one of what we consider the finest books written in recent years – “Birds in fall” by Brad Kessler. But I digress....
In a recent edition of the Economist there was the review of a new book called “The English and Their History” by Robert Tombs. A fascinating subject, brought to the forefront of national debate by the recent referendum on Scottish independence. The British are often called English, probably because language is usually associated with statehood, and this is confusing and not appreciated by the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish – in a recent official document my passport was defined as an English passport...! So someone's views on the unique traits of the English (as opposed to the British) are always interesting. The reviewer, never named in the Economist, was overwhelmingly positive about the book, and indicated what “might surely be described as basic to the national character: a willingness to prick pomposity, distrust for grand theoretical schemes, and instinctive enthusiasm for globalisation, and ability to balance tradition with change or Establishment frippery with Nonconformist efficiency, a fondness for compromise but a willingness to avoid fudging when necessary.”
Having read this, I was struck by two things. First, that in some measure a few of these wonderful characteristics fortunately apply to other nations as well, though perhaps the combination illustrated is unique to the English and, second, that these characteristics are increasingly relevant to the new generation of companies being created – companies who want to to deliver good products and results with the minimum of fuss and in a way that benefits everyone involved – the ubiquitous “stakeholders”. And the example that immediately came to mind was...INNOVO!
INNOVO's ambition is to create a level playing field in the “game “ of procurement, allowing buyers and sellers to trade so that everyone gets a fair deal in an open and transparent way. Therefore it pricks the pomposity of official procurement functions by laying bare the process, not in a grand theoretical scheme, but on a practical, efficent and peer-reviewed platform. INNOVO has an instinctive enthusiasm for globalisation as is evident by the many nationalities among the participants as buyers, sellers and managing partners. It manages to balance tradition with change (in reality, it is a radical change for a traditional activity) using nonconformist efficiency as can be seen by the investment made in its IT systems and the partnership agreements being signed with cutting edge companies in the IT sphere. The idea behind INNOVO has subtly evolved over the recent months, demonstrating an ability (more than a fondness) for compromise when this allows a better achievement of its objectives. However INNOVO has certainly avoided fudging over challenging issues and has faced and resolved each hurdle resolutely.
So as I settle down in the evenings to read the books I was given over Christmas and the magazines that bring more news and reviews, I am already looking out for books I could give as presents next Christmas. Who knows whether INNOVO's unique business model will be the subject of an analysis of successful entrepreneurial projects already in 2015? Let's hope so!