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by Bertie

Psychometrics and astrology

July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

Well there you have it! Dan Ariely (from the Kahneman school of behavioural economics) gave his verdict on Meyers Briggs in this weekend’s edition of the WSJ.

In his regular Q&A column Ask Ariely, Dan replied to a reader’s question. The reader explained that she took the Meyers Briggs test a couple of years ago and was blown away because it explained so many things that she had felt before, but never put into words.  The reader then continues that she was ever since insecure whether her MBTI type was her true type or whether just confirmation bias. (Confirmation bias being that you see what you want to see.)

Ariely’s answer? ” Next time, just look at the horoscope. It is just as valid and takes less time.”

Well, there you have it! (of course assuming that you think horoscopes are pure fantasy!).

At last we have it from one of the most prominent contemporary psychologists.  And think of all the money we waste on this type of psychometric testing!

Readers of this blog will remember that I have long ago expressed my deep cynicism specifically about Meyers Briggs – you are welcome to click back to

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by Bertie

The browser wars

July 16, 2014 in Innovation, Media, Strategy, tablets

No not between Google Chrome and IE or Safari or Firefox.

For the past week I have intentionally been reading the great newspapers of the US and Europe on paper.

And of course, they are heavy weights, and I do not mean with regard to opinion, but in simple paper weight.

Now apply the categories that we use to classify news on the Internet: OMG, WTF and LOL to these newspapers and you can reduce them all most probably to a single page!


Which set me thinking.  Perhaps newspapers don’t compete with news on line as such, but rather with browsers, IE, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox.  In the pre-Internet era newspapers provided the browsing opportunities that  IE etc now provide us.

Who can ever read everything on the Internet? Of course not. It is just as impossible for the non-retired, working man  and woman to read one of these great newspapers from front to back. They are intended to be browsed and tidbits sampled here and there.

That is why reading a newspaper on a tablet is such a different experience. You don’t feel intimidated by the content. You quickly scan and I finish the WSJ and the FT every morning inside of 15 minutes. Quickly scan the news, read a couple of letters and one or two opinion pieces and a highlighted item. Finish.

Newspapers have spawned online to actual items of immediate value.

Which brings me to the point, as long as newspapers try to create online what they had on paper they are doomed. They will lose the browser war. They are bringing a knife to a gun fight!


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Small business owners here’s the answer to getting paid on delivery!

June 27, 2014 in Innovation, Marketing, Small business, Small business, Smart thinking, tablets, User experience

All you plumbers, electricians or any other small business owners who ever had to deliver a service or product and handed over an invoice with the sinking feeling, “When am I going to get paid?”  Quickly followed by the even graver thought’ “Am I going to get paid at all?”  will revel in this new solution by Barclays Africa.


I have also blogged last year about an offering by Nedbank (, what makes this device of Barclays Africa so innovative is the fact that the Payment Pebble has no key pad, you enter the pin number on your smart phone of tablet. This reduces the cost of the device significantly.

Previously regulations prohibited entering pin numbers directly onto smart phones and tablets, because of security reasons. The real innovation in the Pebble, says Ed Carrell, Head of Innovation & Transformation, for Barclays Africa is that the pin number is not stored on the phone itself, the turning wheel randomizes the pin and their is no security risk.

Plumbers, electricians, repair men, door-to-door salespeople, marketplace merchants and roadside craft market vendors can now accept card payments from any customer with a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card for as little as R50 (excluding VAT) per month for the first year and R20 (excluding VAT) per month thereafter.

And what’s wonderful, you don’t need to bank with Absa to get the Payment Pebble.

I would expect nothing less than a rush to Absa. This is not a payment device, it is a cash flow and risk prevention device for small business owners and tradesmen!

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by Bertie

What’s the difference?

May 21, 2014 in Education, Management

In my role as Chief Learning Officer at Naspers I focus more on the education end of the spectrum between training and education.  (We have extensive programs on the operational levels of the organization)

So, what’s the difference? Education is not higher up in the hierarchy from training, it’s just at the other end of the spectrum, just as red is not a better color than violet – just different, but both allow us to see the world in clear white light.

Training answers the need: How can I do this?

Education answers the need: How must I understand this?

The response to successful training is: Oh, so that’s how you do it, now I too can do it!

The response to successful education is: Oh, now I understand – I will assess and decide differently in future.

The outcome of successful training is: A sequential checklist of things to do: ” When I am back at the office this is what I will do differently.”

The outcome of successful education is: A checklist of questions:  a list of questions with which I will interrogate the circumstances in a similar situation.

It is important to understand the difference between the two. If you pitch up for training and get education, you will be severely disappointed because the” to do list for back at the office” won’t happen. You will feel that your time has been wasted because everything is somewhat vague and fuzzy. If you pitch up for education and you find training, you are bored and feel that your imagination muscle has not been exercised.

An organization needs both. Let’s be clear about that – but it is education that is mostly neglected.

An often the criticism against education is valid – there is too little trouble taken with giving participants a takeaway. Education can be crisp and clear when it focuses on giving participants the appropriate arsenal of questions with which to interrogate their situations.

That is why every Master Class at the Naspers Academy ends by formulating the appropriate questions in group discussions and capturing them in writing.

Go and check what we are doing at the Naspers Academy where we drive business education through a series of master classes.

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The age of black goods

September 23, 2013 in Marketing, Media, tablets, User experience

When last did you ever got the urge to have a look at the latest stoves and fridges on the market? When you were renovating your kitchen, I bet. But otherwise I don’t think you wander in and out of the white goods stores to see what’s interesting.

Maybe we have now entered the age of black goods as well. Black goods?  These square black slabs we call mobile devices. At the Internet conference I attended in Berlin on of the presenters showed a screen with all the different brands and labeled them evocatively “black slabs.”  They are all looking more or less the same, and it is a race to reveal ever more obscure features. This is a dead sure indication of a mature industry and both consumers and analysts who complain about the lack of innovation do not understand the historical phase of the industry. You could just as well complain about there being so little innovation in micro wave ovens!

I have noticed since getting my iPhone 5 a year ago that I was just not interested into wandering into electronic gear shops anymore – whereas this was my favourite time spent in malls previously.

Of course this has a grave implication for companies and investors.

But for now, it seems the Age of Black Goods are upon us.


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