Month: December 2012

I come to bury mind-mapping, not to praise it.


Mind Mapping
Mind Mapping (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

Tim Brown recently wrote the following small article on Linked In updates, which I found by clicking a link telling me to stop using words to describe things:

Make it Visual

Some things are hard to describe in words. In fact, many things are hard to describe in words. Try describing in detail the bedroom you spent your childhood in. My guess is that you will have a hard time describing it well enough for someone else to recreate it. The same is true for new ideas. Words may be a start, but they often lack the precision and clarity required to describe a new idea to someone else. Photos, sketches, and data visualizations can make complex ideas easier to understand and share. That’s why portfolios beat résumés, and young designers are still encouraged to carry a sketchbook.

This week, try recording your observations and ideas visually, even if just as a rough sketch in a notebook or a picture on your camera phone. If you think you can’t draw, too bad. Do it anyway.

Mind mapping can be an excellent way to get visual about abstract ideas. For example, check out the design thinking mind map used in Change By Design, which you also can see in my recent post, “Start Designing Your Life.

There were nearly two hundred likes on this and a discussion had kicked off which seemed fairly one-sided, with 42 people all agreeing with this premise in one form or another. Oddly they had all used words to express this agreement and not one picture could be seen.

I had to add the contrary view, and did so as follows:

I respectfully disagree with some of the premises in this article. We think with language – I defy anyone to frame a conceptual thought without it – and human language, at least the ones I know, bases on words.

I have looked at Mind Mapping and some of the other inventions of Tony Buzan, I have read several of his books and remain skeptical as to the practical use of them. As far as mind mapping is concerned, its main use in my opinion is to give people of an artistic bent an excuse for doodling in meetings, and at least some direction to the doodling they’d probably be doing anyway.

A tabular approach wins out every time – the human brain loves tables and rectangular things. That’s why we live in rectangular rooms in rectangular buildings with rectangular furniture. Placing any problem into a table immediately highlights areas which are uncovered, and ensures deeper and more consistent thinking on any topic. Even “out of the box” thinking is only possible if you’ve defined a box. None of this happens with mind-maps, which ensure a very subjective and random summary of any topic.

I thought it was worth taking a contrary position and maybe getting some thought and discussion going, so please don’t be offended at my detraction from your premise, which is certainly not intended in an agressive spirit.

I thought we could find out whether the mind-mapping is actually popular among the people who follow or at least stumble upon this service, so please take part in the following poll:

The Money Value of Time


The National Audit Office building, built orig...
The National Audit Office building, built originally as the Imperial Airways Empire Terminal. The statue, “Speed Wings over the World” is by Eric Broadbent” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to page 2 of today’s UK Financial Times, a UK National Audit Office report shows over 6.5m people waited more than 10 minutes to get their calls answered by HMRC, adding £33m to customer’s phone bills and wasting £103m of their time last year.

This snippet of information triggered a few things that I wanted to say to you this morning. The first of these is, that, despite the fact that it is obviously pretty dire that people need to wait so long to get their calls answered by the service they are paying taxes to fund in the first place, at least in the UK there is a body which is concerened at the loss of time and places a value, in monetary terms, on that loss of time by the customer.

Anyone who has spent any time either in government offices, or even banks or supermarkets in this part of the world will probably confirm that the idea that the customer’s time is valuable and should be respected is a rather alien concept. Not so long ago it was an utterly alien concept, but even today it is still a concept which they find rather hard to grasp.

Not as bad as China, though, from what I heard and also saw. People being expected to queue all day outside the Chinese consulate for their visa and then at the very moment that the scheduled closing time of the office came the shutters come down like with Kiosk Keith and that was that. The spare time of the employees was utterly sacrosanct, that of the customer not at all. This of course shows an elitist mentality, which can be found in almost all state sector offices to one or another degree anywhere in the world. Expect it and try somehow to deal with it.

Much less acceptable is the wasting of the customer’s time in business. If the customer is paying then they have a right to have their matters expedited and people who keep people waiting ought either to invest in more infrastructure to avoid it or to wonder if they are in the right business. Continue reading “The Money Value of Time”

What are the per diem and travel expense allowability rates in the Czech Republic?


CZK 1 coin.

Please find below information regarding the Czech per diem as well as other travel expenses, correct as at the close of 2012 going into 2013, courtesy of Baker Tilly Czech Republic’s Head of Tax Lucia Rablova.

Per diem

The new aspect is the obligation to reduce meal allowances when a free meal was provided.

The minimum statutory rates of meal allowances in case of domestic business trips are shown in the following table:

Period of domestic business trip in calendar day Meal allowances according to the decree Obligatory reduction for 1 free meal
5 – 12 hours min. CZK 64 (max. CZK 76) up to 70%
12 – 18 hours min. CZK 96 (max. CZK 116) up to 35%
more than 18 hours min. CZK 151 (max. CZK 181) up to 25%

The minimum statutory rates of meal allowances in case of business trips abroad are shown in the following table:

Period of domestic business trip in calendar day Meal allowances Obligatory reduction for 1 free meal
less than 1 hour ——— ——–
5 – 12 hours 1/3 of basic rate up to 70%
12 – 18 hours 2/3 of basic rate up to 35%
more than 18 hours the basic rate up to 25%

Naturally, an employer may provide meal allowances to a higher amount, i.e. may set a higher rate of meal allowances or may claim reduction in lower than the statutory rate. From the corporate income tax point of view, the full amount of meal allowances is tax deductible. However, any difference between actually paid meal allowances and statutory provided maximum limits for employees in the public budgets sphere (see column II in table 1 – max. amount) is subject to personal income tax from dependent activities and is counted also for social and health insurance computations.

 

Mileage

–          CZK 3.70 per km and petrol usage reimbursement (price according to the receipt or average price according to the annually issued decree may be used)

Accommodation

–          by receipt

Should you have any further questions in respect of the above please do not hesitate to contact Lucia via this portal, using czechtax@quoracy.com, or via the http://www.bakertilly.cz website.