What absolutely everyone can learn from Leicester City

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Leicester City have won the Premier League.

5,000/1 outsiders; King Claudio’s dilly-ding, dilly-dong; Gary Lineker in his undies; it’s the feel-good sporting story of the year (or decade, or century, or possibly ever, depending on how excitable you are and how short a memory you’ve got).

Jamie Vardy’s having a party, and so are the assorted ranks of hacks and bloggers who are now clambering aboard the Leicester clickbait bandwagon.

Because this isn’t just about football.  Oh no.  There is so much more we can learn from the ‘Leicester fairytale’ (© all newspapers) about all aspects of business, relationships and life in general.

So to save you trawling the internet in search of these pearls of wisdom, here’s my handy A-Z compendium of everything you can learn from Leicester City’s Premier League win:

Art of the Turnaround

Banking Pay

Being Yourself

Business

Church Unity

Cycling

Education (a personal favourite, this)

Hacking

Investing

Leadership

Life Lessons

Management

Management again

Marketing

Meritocracy

Motivation

Parenting

PR

Recruitment

Retail

Small Business

Success

Success again

Teamwork & Togetherness

Wealth Creation

Will to Win

Zero

If you spot any other Leicester-related gems, please add a link via the comments section.

An open letter to Nicky Morgan

Dear Nicky Morgan,

I’m writing to let you know that my kids won’t be at school today.

They’re not sick.

I am though.

Sick of you not listening to the many concerned parents, teachers and education specialists who are very worried about the changes you are making to our education system.  Changes which seem to me more about controlling teachers and turning schools into exam factories than they are about producing bright, happy, well-educated children.

You may think my wife and I are bad parents for keeping our kids off school, given your view that ‘keeping children home – even for a day – is harmful to their education’.

So I’d like to reassure you on two fronts.

Firstly, my children won’t actually be at home today, they’ll be out learning interesting and exciting new things.  They’re actually going on an educational trip to Jodrell Bank Observatory to learn more about space.  My five year-old son loves everything to do with space.  He’s going to wear his astronaut’s outfit, just like Major Tim.  (I do hope having a bit of fun doesn’t hamper his learning).

Secondly, I’d like to reassure you that I’m right behind your campaign to use public buildings other than primary schools for local elections and the EU referendum.  You’re absolutely right when you say we shouldn’t allow the voting process to close primary schools for days at a time, doing untold harm to our children’s education in the process.

Admittedly I haven’t actually heard you say this but I’m sure you must have, right?  Let me know if you need me to write to David Cameron or sign a petition on your behalf.  There’s obviously a media blackout on this important message, so I’d like you to know I’m here to help whenever you need me.

Because I care about my children’s education, Ms Morgan.  More than you will ever know.

I want my children to grow up to be bright, articulate, intellectually curious adults with the skills, capacity and desire to think for themselves and solve whatever problems life may throw at them.

I just don’t believe that teaching 5 and 6 year-olds to spot a split digraph or transitive verb at twenty paces but not worrying whether they enjoy, or even understand, the story they’re reading is in the long term best interests of our children’s education.

Trust me; I will push them when they need pushing, as all children occasionally do.  I will expect their teachers to do the same.

I am also in favour of testing children.

Teachers must know the capabilities of the children in their care so they can manage lessons accordingly.  But the SATs are so hard that teachers can’t modify their lessons according to the needs of individual children.

They’re too busy ploughing through the curriculum at an unprecedented pace, forcing children to work harder and faster, moving onto the next topic before they’ve had chance to consolidate the learning from the last one.

Teachers are getting stressed, and more importantly young children are getting stressed.  How can it be helpful to raising education standards to have bright 6 year-olds feeling so stupid and worthless that they ask their parents to take them back to the baby shop, as one concerned mother reported recently?

It’s heartbreaking.  And it simply isn’t right.

So it’s time to say enough is enough.

Teachers are education experts.  Please Ms Morgan, let them get on with the job they love and perform every day with care, devotion and absolute professionalism.

The message from me and thousands of other concerned parents up and down the country is very clear:

Let teachers teach.

Let kids be kids.

 

Yours sincerely,

A concerned parent

Pollsters, bookies and Grindr users: who’s best at predicting the future?

Despite seemingly hanging in the balance for a few days, realistically the result of the Scottish independence referendum was never seriously in doubt.

The margin of the victory is perhaps something of a surprise, however.

Given how close the polls had it going into Thursday, a 55 / 45 split is a larger margin of victory for the No campaign than many were predicting.

It obviously wasn’t a surprise to the bookies though, who were offering odds of just 1/5 on a No majority, compared to a generous sounding 3/1 in some places on a Yes majority.

As the old adage goes, you never see a bookie on a bike, so with £50m being wagered on the result they must have been very confident of the outcome.

One guy who got the result pretty much bang on did so by the entirely unscientific method of asking 655 random Grindr users whether they thought Scotland should be an independent country.  His result was 54 / 46, just one percentage point out.

This was closer to the actual result than polls on Wednesday night from three separate professional polling organisations: YouGov, IPSOS-MORI and Survation:

Buzzfeed Scottish Referendum Opinion Polls

Obviously it could just be an amusing blip, but there might be more to it than first appears.  It seems there is a way to poll unrepresentative samples and get an accurate result.

This thought-provoking article in the New York Times suggests that polling representative samples of the population to ask how they intend to vote is a weaker predictor of the outcome than asking them who they think will win instead.

Forecasting Elections: Voter Intentions versus Expectations  shows that asking people to consider their expectation of the outcome prompts them to mentally picture how 20 of their friends or family are likely to vote, which is ultimately a better predictor of the final result than only understanding their own voting intentions:

Surveys of voting intentions depend critically on being able to poll representative cross-sections of the electorate. By contrast, we find that surveys of voter expectations can still be quite accurate, even when drawn from non-representative samples. The logic of this claim comes from the difference between asking about expectations, which may not systematically differ across demographic groups, and asking about intentions, which clearly do.

This is fascinating stuff and potentially revolutionary for the research industry as a whole, not just within the world of politics:

Market researchers ask variants of the voter intention question in an array of contexts, asking questions that elicit your preference for one product, over another. Likewise, indices of consumer confidence are partly based on the stated purchasing intentions of consumers, rather than their expectations about the purchase conditions for their community. The same insight that motivated our study—that people also have information on the plans of others—is also likely relevant in these other contexts. Thus, it seems plausible that survey research in many other domains may also benefit from paying greater attention to people’s expectations than to their intentions.

This insight could surely be applied to the communication industry.

Would we understand more about a campaign’s chances of success if we stop asking people if they like the ad creative and ask them instead whether they think their friends would like it?

Would it be a better indicator of sales success if we ask people to predict whether a campaign would be likely to make other members of their family buy the advertised product?

Are any researchers out there currently using this technique?  Anyone willing to give it a go?

I’d love to know the outcome.