Letters - In the light of experience ...
Despite good vision, I agree with your two correspondents that in places Management Consultancy can be difficult to decipher.
We have had considerable experience at developing documentation that must be quickly and easily assimilated (for various reasons), and you need to take into account how the human mind scans a document and the physiological limitations of human vision.
Secondly, you need to realise that your journal will not be read in very high intensity lighting conditions like those of your layout and design studio; what is easily readable there may be almost illegible in the poorer lighting conditions that a reader typically uses, for example in a train.
Could I suggest a few rules to your graphic designers?
Use a fine, well-rounded roman typeface, neither expanded nor condensed, for your main body-type; your current style is only just acceptably large enough for poor lighting conditions; also avoid semi-bold style-in long tracts it can reduce legibility.
Don’t reverse typeface out of a dark background; this halves its legibility.
If you really must, make it at least one point-size size larger and use a sans-serif face to avoid the background ink bleeding out the thin parts of a roman type-face.
If you print on a background other than white, ensure at least an 80 per cent grey-scale equivalent difference between the typeface and the background.
Don’t use italic style; this also halves legibility. If you really must, make it larger to restore legibility.
Don’t use block capitals for long tracts; they are much more difficult to decipher than upper and lower case.
I’m sure that if you follow these rules, you won’t get any more complaints!
Dr Colin Mynott
Letter – Whither the IMC?
Bearing in mind the fact that the Institute of Management Consultants was born out of the rib of the Management Consultants Association, it is sad to learn that membership numbers are falling.
This is not surprising when one looks at the number of members of the MCA Council who do not belong to the IMC. At present, the MCA Council consists of 30 people, one for each member firm.
Based on the the latest IMC published yearbook which is for 1995, only eight members of the MCA Council are also members of the IMC. This is hardly a ringing endorsement for the need to belong the industry’s professional body in order to practice management consultancy.
Unless and until it is a requirement to be a full member of the IMC to be able to practice as a management consultant, IMC membership numbers will continue to fall.
In this the IMC is like the Chartered Institute of Marketing. There are far more people in marketing director positions who do not belong to the CIM than who are members.
Management Consultancies Association
Justin’s comment concerning Lucy Kellaway’s consternations about the employment of a nuclear physicist by a consultancy company made me wonder if Justin is a physicist?
The Institute of Physics’ Consulting Group has more than 250 consulting members. Virtually all are physicists with experience in almost every specialist field of physics (and beyond). All are positively contributing to the economy by providing management and technical consultancy services through the application of their skills, experience and training to solve all types of problems facing businesses. A Financial Times journalist may well then ask how it is possible for all physicists to contribute to the economy in this way.
A feature article by Ed Sickafus published in The Industrial Physicist from the American Institute of Physics provides succinct and timely answers that training as a physicist provides him or her with a vast number of skills and tools that can be successfully applied in an industrial and context. From discussions within our own group about the employability of physicists, over many months prior to this article, we confirm the points raised by Sickafus and we would emphasise the skills of analysis and holistic systems approaches which he generally terms “nimbleness”.
Examples of physicists in the real world include the managing director of Nissan (UK), Lain Reston, the ex-chief executive of Scottish Power, not forgetting Gil Amelio of Apple Computers and David Potter of Psion.
The Institute of Physics’s president-elect is also a consultant, Brian Manley of Manley Moon Associates. In fact, physicists are using their skills everywhere where they matter (no pun intended from the nuclear physicists).
Finally, the industrial affairs department of the Institute of Physics has created a CD-rom entitled Scientists in Business which provides greater depth than I can go into here. This acclaimed initiative has been announced in the FT, and elsewhere, so you may wish to contact Susan Partridge on 0171 470 4800 for more details.
Letter – Take the train
I was fascinated by the logic of John Parris in his article “Travel in hope” (Issues, June 1996). In a sense he is quite right to be sceptical about the usefulness of traffic information services. Even ignoring these, how many of us play a futile Russian Roulette each day to try to circumvent usual traffic jams? Whichever short-cut we take, it always seems to take about the same time.
For all the options considered, Parris seems to have overlooked the obvious alternative. Drive to the nearest station and take the train instead.
Senior personnel officer
Dudley Metropolitan Borough.