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Making Change Happen: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

This post is adapted from something I wrote about CPD for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

Whether it’s a new year’s resolution or a Lenten fast, many of us try at various points in the year to make changes, but it’s easy for these to peter out over time. How can we stop our good intentions ending up as wishful thinking? Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit” includes some intriguing evidence about how we can move from good intentions to actions with three simple steps: Continue reading “Making Change Happen: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg”

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The Limits To Travel – David Metz

Alongside Barry Hutton’s excellent “Planning Sustainable Transport” (also by Routledge), this is in the small but important list of “books which changed how I think about transport” and worth reading several times over. The author, David Metz, has spent his career at the Department for Transport and in various academic research positions, so he is able to explain authoritatively what good transport policy looks like.  Continue reading “The Limits To Travel – David Metz”

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is probably my top film of this year: beautifully made and heartrendingly emotional. Both the film and the original book were written by Patrick Ness and the film opened in cinemas last week.

The story revolves around Conor, a 13 year old boy trying to cope with his mother’s cancer as she tries one treatment after another. He is plagued by a recurring nightmare where a huge sinkhole opens up and almost swallows both him and his mother if only he holds tightly to her. Continue reading “A Monster Calls”

From Good Housekeeping to Good Asset Management: what would Mrs Beeton think?

This week I’ve been rereading a favourite book of mine, Laura Vanderkam’s “168 Hours”, preparing for a family visit and wondering what would happen if we had Mrs Beeton, Laura Vanderkam and an engineer in the same room… Because the truth is, people don’t apply the same standards to their home lives as they do at work, and some regard the state of your home as a matter of moral failure (making the rest of us feel guilty).

So what would your house look like if you applied the principles of asset management rather than Good Housekeeping? Continue reading “From Good Housekeeping to Good Asset Management: what would Mrs Beeton think?”

Business Book Club: The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman is one of those books every engineer should keep close to their desk for frequent reference. Continue reading “Business Book Club: The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman”

Business Book Club: First Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

This is the first book for my new Business Book Club, where we’ll be getting together once a month to read and discuss a book about leadership, management and excellence. Suggested questions are provided at the end.

If you work for a large company, the chances are you will have done an employee survey at some point which is based on the research presented in this book, which correlates business performance against employee perceptions based on thousands of surveys conducted by Gallup over the last 20 years. This research found that there are 12 key questions where positive answers strongly correlate with high performing teams within a company – and it’s all about your manager. The questions are organised in order of importance, and the basic task of management is therefore presented as making sure that all employees can answer the first 6 positively (with the remainder being how you motivate your best talent). Continue reading “Business Book Club: First Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman”

On Stage: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

Last December, a former pub on Gillygate in York (dubbed the Fleeting Arms) was transformed into a smoky speakeasy in 1920s America to tell the story of the great Gatsby. Surely you’ve heard of him? He has lots of money and a big house which is always full of people, but the man himself is an enigma and people even say he once killed a man… Continue reading “On Stage: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald”

On Stage: In Fog and Falling Snow (George Stephenson)

What do you do when your theatre is closed for nearly a year for a major refurb? Build another (temporary) one of course: the show must go on…! At least, that was the York Theatre Royal’s approach, constructing the Signal Box Theatre in a huge insulated marquee with a railway track down the middle at the back of the National Railway Museum. Continue reading “On Stage: In Fog and Falling Snow (George Stephenson)”

On Stage: Books Inspired by York Theatre

The York Theatre Royal is one of the oldest theatres in the country and has played a big part in my life in York, not least because of their willingness to put on professional quality community plays with a cast and choir of hundreds, which has built up a great community vibe. After a major refurbishment, the hoardings have just come down as it’s now less than two weeks before it will finally reopen its doors to the public for a world premiere adaptation of Brideshead Revisited (22nd to 30th April in York then touring, tickets available here).  Continue reading “On Stage: Books Inspired by York Theatre”

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