Friday Drop: Bad week for Met Office CEO John Hirst

It never rains, but it pours (snow). Following our short-lived 'barbeque summer' what a winter it has been. Great Brrrritain, according to the Daily Mirror, has had its coldest winter in thirty years. Where do they get these stats?

Hirst: defending the Met Office to Sky's Adam Boulton
Hirst: defending the Met Office to Sky's Adam Boulton

All eyes on Exeter, where Met Office supremo John Hirst plies his trade. He has come under fire on a number of cold fronts as UK infrastructure creaked over the past fortnight. The latest is a rogue blog that has dragged this publicly-funded organisation into the dry heat of the climate change debate.

The Sunday Times' Dominic Lawson reported that a Met Office staffer posted a missive to a newspaper that ‘this will be the warmest winter in living memory'. Here's the science bit. ‘We take the highest readings between November and March and then produce an average, then all the data comes from those readings.'

Anyone with a SAT pass in maths will know this is not how you calculate an average. Lawson suggests that this slack maths is endemic of the Met Office's role in the whole ‘Climategate' furore. Posters on the Telegraph website suggested that ‘the fiasco brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘seasonally adjusted'.

The Met Office now claims that the mathematically-challenged individual isn't actually one of their people. But with a CEO enjoying a recent 25 percent pay rise and rogue views on the long term weather being openly questioned, the Met Office is finding life under the microscope uncomfortable. Echoes of a red-faced Michael Fish?

Key Lessons:

A clear social media policy can help minimise the risk of rogue blogs

Once your credibility has been damaged, make sure your data stands up to scrutiny.


Good week for Airbus president and CEO Tom Enders

Come fly with me, let's fly let's fly away. If only old blue eyes were around today, he would be shocked at the sophistication of today's modern aircraft.

Seven years in the making, Airbus' A400M military transport plane is costing the company an embarrassing amount of cash in losses. Cap in hand, like a member of the cast of ‘Oliver', CEO Tom Enders is asking a number of countries involved in the programme for ‘more' in order to ensure the programme takes off.

As Airbus' posturing over the short fall reached take off speed, Enders levelled off with a breathtakingly refreshing admission. ‘When you make a mistake, you don't make it twice. Signing up to this project was a mistake'. With over 15,000 jobs depending on the programme this was quite an admission from Captain Enders.

In reality this was a subtle but effective way to switch the spotlight onto governments for a bail out and instantly killed off any slow burn story that might have questioned the programme's long-term logic.

The honesty serum being passed around business and politics is spreading, with admissions of culpability from the likes of David Cameron and Barack Obama in recent months. In any case, the move will allow Airbus to move on much more quickly, all thanks to a brave decision not to join the Mile Lie Club.

Key Lessons:

Moving fast to kill a story can allow you to move on more quickly

Pre-emptively dealing with an issue can lessen the impact



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