Good honest folk

I spent last week in Geneva. Nothing out of the ordinary about that as I’ve been working there fairly regularly over the last couple of years. But last week was my birthday week — Tuesday. 47. A new wallet. Thanks for asking — so they had to be very special people to persuade me to spend the week with them. They were. Good honest folk.


The team at ISO (The International Organisation for Standards) are quite possibly the nicest group of people I’ve ever have had the privilege of working with. From the content, creative and technical people I work with mostly, through the directors and all the way up to Secretary General Rob Steele (The big boss.) It’s been a joy working with all of them over the last year.

What impresses me most about the folk at ISO is how eager they are to adapt to new ways of thinking, especially around mobile and responsive design. They don’t just look at design from a technical perspective, as many large organisations do. Over the last year they’ve embarked on a total rethinking of their content strategy and hired a dedicated content specialist. I’ve never worked on a project before where I know that a person has a new job as a direct result of work I’ve done. I love that.

What also makes ISO, as an organisation, special is the complete freedom to do what they think’s right that Rob Steele and his directors give their teams. This trust leaves folk to do their best work without having to second guess what their directors will like. It’s rare to find this level of delegation, responsibility and trust, but good God does it get results! My project partner David and I, and the ISO teams can get on with creating instead of contributing to piles of paperwork. Every organisation should work this way. It should be a standard.

Good honest folk

On the way back from Geneva my wife and I sat at the railway station looking at photos from her tour of the United Nations. Our train arrived and we stood up, boarded the train and headed for the airport. It wasn’t until we reached the checkin desk that she realised she wasn’t carrying her laptop bag anymore.

I rushed back, first to the now empty platform, then to the Lost Property office but her bag wasn’t there. A quick call to the office in Geneva told me that it wasn’t there either. As far as I was concerned, she wasn’t getting it back, or the 11” MacBook Air, iPod nano, earphones or the Parker pen I’d bought her last Christmas.

Stay calm Andrew.

A quick call to David and he’d logged into her iCloud account and set up a remote lock and reward message for anyone who found and opened it. Meanwhile I called my local Apple Store and arranged to collect a replacement on our way home.

I’ll admit I never expected to see the bag or its contents again. It was gone. Although I knew we had a Time Machine backup at home waiting to be loaded on a replacement Mac, I was still upset.

“Stay calm Andrew,” I told myself and on the outside I did stay calm.

“Everyone loses something sometimes” I consoled, while inside I screamed, “It was a fucking laptop!”

“Don’t worry, we can replace everything and we have a back up.”

“Fucking laptop!”

For the next two hours, while we waited for our plane home, we watched for an automated email from Apple telling us that someone had opened the laptop. Nothing came.

When we landed in Liverpool our phones buzzed with an email from a lady at Geneva Tourist Information Office. They’d found the bag, with everything inside it accounted for, hanging on the ear of a concrete cow outside their office.

But Tourist Information isn’t near the railway station where we’d left the bag. In fact it’s a ten minute walk across the city.

Someone had found the bag, carried it for half a mile, and left it, not inside, but outside Tourist Information, hanging on a cow. A staff member arriving for work saw the bag, took it inside, opened Mail to look for Sue’s email address and wrote to her with the good news. It’s now on it’s way back to us.

I never expected we’d see the bag again, never-mind the expensive items inside it. In my mind the laptop would be sold in a pub within hours and the bag and smaller items dumped in an alley. I’m so relieved I was wrong. I guess it goes to show that there are people who will do what we hope they’ll do and not what cynics like me expect them to.

They’ll be good honest folk.


I’m interested in designing digital products and websites, and consulting projects with clients world-wide.

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