Sunday, December 30, 2012

What Can We Learn From 2012? An End of Year Review.

Although 2012 saw a recovery for many countries around the world, it was only a modest recovery, with no real certainty for the next twelve months. What follows is a review of some of the stories from 2012.
Competition in mobile technology intensified. Apple maintained its worldwide dominance. But the use of Google's Android software on competing smartphones and tablets spread faster than Apple's market share. Forty-four percent of U.S. adults own smartphones, up from about 35 percent a year ago. Tablet ownership doubled in 2012. Taking on Apple's iPad, Microsoft unleashed its Surface tablet and began selling Windows 8, a tablet-friendly operating system. Amazon and Barnes & Noble rushed out high-definition-screen tablets. Each priced its premium model less than the entry-level iPad. Apple struck back with the iPad Mini. Struggling to compete, once-formidable Nokia and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion floundered.
NASA's R2 Robonaut became the first helper droid to be used on board the International Space Station for science experiments and general repairs and maintenance; and China sends its first female astronaut in to space .
In the most overhyped and overpriced IPO in history, Facebook goes public and almost immediately wipes out $40 billion of investor capital. Did it kill the IPO market? Burst the dot-com 2.0 bubble? Shatter investor confidence? Undermine Morgan Stanley’s stellar reputation? Destroy Mark Zuckerberg’s credibility? Damage the Facebook brand? Nope. Apparently, nobody can live without Facebook. 
A gathering of sustainability leaders hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver was warned that big businesses will be swept aside by emerging social enterprises unless they start changing their business models and contribute more to society. Where Chris West, the director of the Shell Foundation, said it was vital that the sustainability efforts of companies were directed at supporting change in the developing world. He criticised those businesses that were still hooked on charitable donations rather than leveraging their core skills to tackle poverty. Branson and Oliver warned that progress towards more sustainable businesses was being hampered by a lack of political leadership.
A historic event took place just before Easter, when the first ever United Nations conference on happiness took place with more than 600 delegates including leaders and representatives from nations around the world (it’s true). This was the first major step forward in a process which began last summer, when the resolution ‘Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development’ was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly. Taking the lead was Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan kingdom which famously measures its success in terms of "Gross National Happiness" (GNH).
Scientists discovered the smallest vertebrate so far, a frog living in the rainforests of New Guinea.  The Paedophryne amanuensis measures in at 7.7 millimeters long, the size of a housefly.
3-D printing, where in the United States, an artificial liver made of sugar was printed in 3D for blood vessels to grow into.  An artificial jaw was also printed in 3D and successfully transplanted. 3D printing will continue to grow in usage and popularity in the coming year.  Home 3D printers will soon drop below the $2,000 mark.  Brian Barrett, the managing editor of the blog Gizmodo, explains, “Instead of printing ink onto paper, it takes these little spools of plastic, [usually], and you can feed it instructions and it will use that to form basically any shape that you want, whether it's a utensil or a replica of the White House," he said. "You can go on the Internet, find a design, download it, send it to your 3D printer, and in the course of either several minutes or several hours, depending on how large your order is, it will construct this thing. What's fascinating about it is the limits are only as far as the imagination goes."
After the 2012 London Olympic games Michael Phelps becomes the greatest most decorated athlete of all time; with a total of 71 medals in major international competition. Winning 57 Gold’s, 11 Silvers and 3 Bronze spanning the Olympics, The Worlds and the Pan Pacific Championships. And also in 2012 Mo Farah won the 10,000m and 5,000m Gold at the London 2012 Olympics - the first Brit to win Gold in these events.
Sadly and surprisingly Britain had one of the highest mortality rates in Europe for under-14’s because gaps in provision are denying children access to care. A report published by the NHS Confederation, recommends that the Government tackles the lack of policy co-ordination between departments, particularly health and education and other national bodies. Transition points, such as moving from child to adult services or primary to secondary care can result in service users ‘dropping off the radar’ of support agencies.
Mark Bridge of The Times highlighted the worst ‘scrooges’ of 2012, where Barclays Bank topped the Times list. The banking giant made headlines in June when it was fined £59.5 million for its part in the Libor-fixing affair, but was also the most complained about organisation to the Financial Services Ombudsman for the first six months of 2012.
Second on the Times worst business awards for 2012 was Vodafone,  where they report how this service provider actually makes profits from phone thefts; but by far its worst atrocity of the year related to the tragic death of Julian Litchfield’s son, who was killed in a walking accident in the summer, yet his phone was never found. When Julian phoned Vodafone to explain the circumstances he was told by several members of staff that he would have to pay the rest of his son’s mobile contract until it expired in January 2013 (Bridge, M; The Times, 29.12.12, p.55 & p.58).
The worst leader award however has to go to Mark Taylor, Dean of Warwick Business School, who has to be the worst leader I’ve ever met in the last 30 years – imho his colonial, autocratic style has no place in a business world that not only embraces, but cries out for, transformational leadership.
Director James Cameron accomplished the first solo dive down to the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth, 11 kilometers below the Pacific Ocean. On the other end of the spectrum, Felix Baumgartner accomplished the highest skydive ever, by jumping from literally the edge of space, 24-miles high.  Though he did not break the free fall record at 4 minutes and 20 seconds, he was the first to break the sound barrier without a jet or space shuttle.  Oh, and by the way, he landed on his feet.
We have a lot to do in the next twelve months and need strong professional leaders to set the right course. We mustn’t forget that it wasn’t that long ago that people were convinced the world was flat and we have to be careful that we don’t fall into the same trap with respect to job creation and business growth. There seems to be a very casual approach by many first world countries to the plight of their own citizens, as salaries and wages are frozen, yet basic costs increase at rates above the consumer price index and this needs to change in 2013.
Finally let’s not forget those who left us in 2012 for a better place, names that included:
22nd December: Job W. Price, 42, American naval officer, commanding officer of SEAL Team 4, suspected suicide.
14th December: The twenty children and six teachers who were killed at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut.
26th November: Joseph Murray, 93, American doctor and Nobel laureate (1990), who performed the first kidney transplantation, from hemorrhagic stroke
22nd November: Bryce Courtenay, 79, South African-born Australian novelist (The Power of One), from stomach cancer.
14th November: Koro Kepa, c. 93, New Zealand soldier, last surviving Ngāi Tūhoe member of the 28th Maori Battalion.
18th October: Sylvia Kristel, 60, Dutch actress (Emmanuelle), model, and singer, from throat and liver cancer.
14th October: Marc Swayze, 99, American comic book artist (Captain Marvel).
9th October: Paddy Roy Bates, 91, British pirate radio broadcaster, founder of the Principality of Sealand, from Alzheimer's disease.
27th September: Herbert Lom, 95, Czech-born British actor (The Pink Panther, Spartacus, Gambit, The Ladykillers).
22nd September: Irving Adler, 99, American author, mathematician, and scientist.
25th August: Neil Armstrong, 82, American astronaut, first person to walk on the Moon, from complications from coronary artery bypass surgery.
6th August: Marvin Hamlisch, 68, American composer (The Way We Were, A Chorus Line) and arranger (The Sting), EGOT winner.
23rd July: Sally Ride, 61, American physicist and astronaut, first American woman in space, from pancreatic cancer
4th July: Eric Sykes, 89, British comedy writer (The Goon Show) and actor.
23rd June: Frank Chee Willeto, 87, American Navajo code talker in World War II, Congressional Silver Medal recipient, Vice President of the Navajo Nation (1998–1999).
7th June: F. Herbert Bormann, 90, American ecologist, who discovered acid rain.
21st May: Otis Clark, 109, American evangelist, oldest known survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, and butler (Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford), from natural causes.
2nd April: Ben Huan, 105, Chinese Buddhist master, honorary president of the Buddhist Association of China.
25th March: Lex, 12, American Marine service dog, awarded honorary Purple Heart, from cancer.
4th February: Florence Green, 110, British supercentenarian, last surviving veteran of World War I.
1st February: Angelo Dundee, 90, American boxing trainer (Muhammad Ali).
14th January: Arfa Karim, 16, Pakistani student, world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (2004–2008), from idiopathic epilepsy seizures.
12th January: Natalee Holloway, 18 (in 2005), American student, missing since 2005; declared legally dead on this date.

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