Today’s List

Life is so short that you only have a finite amount of time to read. The question is then do you occupy your remaining hours on earth reading new books that could be crap or do you re- read books that you know to be enjoyable, brilliant, challenging, memorable. If I was told today that the world was ending, books I would read again, not in any particular order:

The Life of Pi

The Crossing


Catch 22

At Swim-Two-Birds

The Road

The Sportswriter/Independence Day/Lay of the Land

Moby Dick

One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Táin translated by Kinsella

Sweeney Astray

Sin É! Hopefully it won’t come to that.

A Right Shower

I spend a good proportion of my time involved with my local GAA club, Eoghan Rua CLG Cúil Raithin. I coach under 8 football and hurling, senior camogie and am involved in various club administration functions including being chair of the cultural committee and doing bits of PR.

But in reality as anyone involved in a GAA club knows, your activities very quickly expand to fill the time available  and beyond. Involvement at managerial or administrative leve,l or as a player, is ideally suited to the public servant or teacher  – people who either get generous holidays or can do a bit of GAA work during the working day, usually at the State’s expense.

How many reams of government-bought paper are used to run off agendas and other documentation? How many staples, rubber bands, paper clips, pens and gegabytes of computer memory is used to underwrite and hold together the GAA?

In the last week we conducted a very worthwhile and enjoyable exercise in the club. During a historic visit to our new Clubrooms prior to Christmas, we were advised by an Uachtarán CLG Christy Cooney to draw up a new development plan/strategy. I thought it would be a good idea to propose this at the AGM and have a business like brainstorming session to take the thing forward. (Angela tells me that in the PC world of education ‘brainstorming’ is no longer an acceptable term so the the less violent term ‘thought shower’ is now the preferred lingo. Maybe that explains the problems in the local education system, that shower in DeNI. Anyhow I digress).

We got about fifty people involved in the club to gether together in the clubhouse last Saturday. And in true management consultant style we split them up into five smaller sub groups that would rotate through the topics, covering each in turn. Each group was given twenty minutes to get their ideas of their chest and anything else they could down on paper. Best of all we told people that we would be finished at 1.00pm and even allowing for a teabreak we let everyone go home, first part of the job done at 12:45.

The pressure is now on us guys to sort out the next stage of the process. Looking forward to that part of it.

Love Me Tender

In recent weeks I have been working on series of tenders with a number of partners, all in the interests of securing income in these ‘difficult’ times.

These tenders have varied from an excellent copywriting opportunity for a Council who wish to build a story bank of City success stories to other tenders that include a cultural visitor centre’s website and associated material; a large marketing/branding job; and marketing communications material for two education clients. I have also been on the other side of the fence drafting, issuing, receiving and collating replies for another client. Based on what I have experienced as a gamekeeper I was able to turn poacher again.

In all my years working at UU, we took what I now see was a very blasé approach to inviting tenders. The general attitude was ‘if they want the job badly enough they’ll do whatever work is required to put in a decent pitch.’ This included requests to provide graphics and visuals, often at short notice. We would have made suppliers jump through various hoops which, to their credit, they did without crying foul. In retrospect, in terms of purchasing the institution treated local small businesses very poorly and certainly showed little understanding of the business realities of life in a small business.

The advice and guidance from the purchasing people was helpful but seemed more designed to avoid litigation than to attract the best and most contemporary or suitable design. Latterly they introduced greater rigour to the entire process, introducing a series of scoring mechanisms but in my view assessors make a decision on a potential supplier especially after a beauty parade and then ensure the paperwork supports that decision. This may not be the PC thing to say but it is a fact.

Latterly I have been on the receiving end of a series of tenders emanating from government departments and government agencies. I suspect that there is a team of purchasing ‘consultants’ going around giving courses in: ‘Tender Documentation Best Practice to Achieve Value for Money’. Aside from the fact that printing off these behemoth documents to actually read them can write off an entire ream of paper, a lot of the information asked for does nothing to establish the actual graphic design or copywriting capability of my friends and I.

In one case, a tender from an organisation that supposedly exists to promote and support SMEs required a devastating and time consuming level of detail. This is time of course that is well spent if you are successful, but a waste of potential fee charging time if you are not. In this case an army of businesses no doubt beavered away jumping and even skipping through the various hoops placed in the way. The outcome? No decision was made, and the likelihood of a re-tender. Don’t you just love them.

Today’s List

For tonight’s training I need:

36 x size 4 sliotars

4 x smash bags

4 x hurdles

2 x pairs 2kg dumbbells

2 x 5 kilo medicine balls

Bibs assorted colours

3 x lines of balls

Assorted disks & cones

Whistle & stopwatch

Sense of humour

Session planner