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Prepping to fail – Does it happen in today’s business?

Posted by on Jul 25, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

I, like many out there, love history and in particular how it repeats itself. With so much going on both politically and in business here in Canada, I’ve been thinking about life’s fast pace and ways we can improve our chances for success. Both Baden-Powell and Ben Franklin were pretty clear about what needed to happen. Ben reportedly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Baden-Powell, of course, coined the legendary Scout motto. Preparation for what’s ahead is probably one of the most important things you can do to acquire and maintain success. You don’t have to look far these days to see failure caused by either poor or no preparation in both Govt and business. The current Trade and Immigration Files are 2 examples where the government has been ill-prepared to handle external issues or support internal policy to ensure Canada can steer its way through the next decade in a sustainable way. Much press has been shared about the Government’s inability to protect and grow Canadian success through poor planning. The majority of Canadians knew the US was headed towards more protectionism. As a business leader, you can be lulled into thinking that you know your business, its customers and that the concerns of government policy are not those you share. Think again! Good business planning would include an assessment of your trade vulnerability and highlight any opportunities to deploy while NAFTA negotiators struggle forward in Washington this summer. It would also point out any currency tactics needed going forward in a world with US trade barriers. Sticking with the other hot issue for business today, immigration policy changes will force business to re-evaluate the human capital in their firms. New strategies for staff recruitment, preparation and training can be planned in both the short and long term to ensure the firm always has access to well-qualified staff. In the fast-moving world that we live in, you only need study history to see that today’s issues are simply yesterday’s with a new set of clothes. If you can identify and prepare for them before they impact your business, you will be breaking out of a cycle and quickly creating more value. If you fail to identify and prepare, you are preparing to fail! Have a great summer and “Be...

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Interruption – Do you talk more than you listen?

Posted by on Feb 13, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

It’s now post-holiday as I write this blog. Family get-togethers are history, treats all consumed and the New Year has arrived with the usual Toronto winter bluster. This is a great time to reflect and analyze what worked and didn’t work last year and perhaps implement a few behavioral changes for 2018. Over the holidays, I found myself involved in many cocktail discussions either out at public events or at friends’ homes and I noticed a shift in the quality of conversation this year. No, it wasn’t the topics, which are fun and easy to procure given the politics of the day. It was the participation and exchange of ideas that seemed to be lacking. It’s said that you always learn more if you can use active listening skills, so I was looking forward to some quality conversation while I practice. However, I found it difficult because of untethered interruption from others. While we all want to promote our ideas and points particularly around the boardroom table, I found that many people this year just butt into the conversation with their ideas and points without waiting for a good opportunity to involve themselves or really understand the points. Some shouted their way in and then abruptly left after their short and poorly crafted interjection. Others showed no concern for quality or balance…in fact no attempt to solicit quality ideas or comments, simply a high spirited point or comment that sometimes offended the other parties. I began to question: Is no one practicing active listening out there? And, perhaps even more alarming, is quality conversation lost? Having spent a large amount of time in my career facilitating large groups I know the value of a thoughtful and well-facilitated discussion. I can say with confidence that the “thoughtful” factor is missing frequently these days. Perhaps some traditional methods to ensure input and well thought out discussion need to be reintroduced by those of us who appreciate facilitative leadership. One executive leader I particularly enjoyed working with frequently used a “talking stick” when she knew a discussion needed a variety of balanced input. This ensured there was a high-quality discussion at the President’s table when evaluating options and plans to move the organization forward. I have reminded myself to consider that everybody out there is doing what makes sense to them based on their own thinking. Moving forward, I will choose to be curious about the circumstances and ideas that lead to a person’s point of view and actions. For others, perhaps I can use some inanimate object as a temporary gift signifying control of the conversation. Risky, but valuable maybe. I worry that it may be interpreted by the “interrupters” as too...

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RFPs – Do they really make sense today?

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

As part of my consulting gig, I’m frequently obligated to participate and to comment on RFP contract value and winnability. As both a consultant and a former multinational supply chain manager, I have a conflicting view of publicly posted RFPs. A strong, well-written RFP that has a detailed set of client requirements and metrics is very valuable to organizations and their procurement staff. Well thought-out competitive responses can form win/win contract agreements. Quality RFPs, however, seem few and far between these last several years. I would estimate 75% of published RFPs in the public sector are poorly organized, specify little in specific scope and contain rushed time requirements reflecting very poor client planning. The provincial government’s recent attempts to use RFPs as instruments to protect agencies and create award transparency, although well intended, have generally failed. Upon reflection, there were always poorly crafted RFPs, so why is this so much more prevalent now? There are a couple of important reasons. Many organizations do not invest in the procurement capacity or supply management function staff and generally, fail to understand its strategic value. Many do not offer the procurement function a supportive or willing internal client to help author and distill the strategic requirements in a concise and clear way. Many of these clients simply write RFP’s around a particular service provider by outlining specific elements that are unique to only one or a few proponents. In these cases it’s very clear that clients simply want their goods and services provided immediately or even worse, to engineer a contract award that meets a sole source wish. So much for organization protection and effective procurement processes! This is a tremendous waste of time for everyone involved in the procurement process. So what do poorly written RFPs look like? One recent hastily constructed RFP included a vague 1-page client requirement embedded in 19 pages of proponent commercial terms and requirements. Other attributes include poor scope relevancy to the type of proposal being posted. What to do about this? As a proponent, I should simply walk in the other direction and ignore the RFP invitation. Garbage in = garbage out. As a former Supply Chain Manager, however, I might invest a little time to do research to see if it’s salvageable. In recent months, I have been walking away from poorly written RFPs to reduce my cost exposure. As a self-critic perhaps my tactics could change though…With the right client, I might be tempted to respond with a letter citing our decision to not reply with a proposal but perhaps even go further with the reason and that this RFP fails to outline clear scope and commercial requirements. Maybe the organization executive (usually...

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Join the Smart Team

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

  I recently attended a national real estate conference in Toronto and had the pleasure of sitting with Gordon Campbell, former High Commissioner to the UK and a former B.C. Premier. I have met Premier Campbell many times when I was at UBC so I thought it would be interesting to see how he has changed after this latest and very high profile stint as Canada’s representative in London. With his same predictable passion for citizen involvement in politics and community building he described the past 6 years in London and his impressions of the economic and political change sweeping across the EU. Questions soon started coming in from developers, commercial real estate brokers and anyone who cared about the Canadian real estate market or worried about similar effects on the Canadian economy. As I am from B.C. I particularly wanted to hear how that market was performing now that the provincial government had implemented a hastily assembled tax on non-resident property owners. What might the political appetite be here in Ontario to do the same thing and what might the triggers be to force government intervention as was done in B.C.? Campbell’s comments, measured carefully to avoid federal and provincial political entanglement was that investors, the world over want 3 things: Predictable, uncorrupt and well run markets that offer reliable results to market risk takers. He went on to mention political leaders need to be smart and avoid bouts of popular vote stupidity citing some recent examples. While describing his front row seat with Brexit, the Euro instability factors of France and Greece, and the US leadership change implications the audience quieted, waiting for his advice. He didn’t fail to deliver. To the economists and market players in attendance, it was to stick with long term planning, conduct good research, determine the facts around a potential purchase or change and to be decisive. His advice to leaders both public and private: be consistent, embrace the changes being made in the world today as they are not temporary, and finally, be genuinely optimistic about the future. He offered this style up as joining the “smart team”. The alternative, as very binary default – to join the stupid team. There is no attractive middle ground out there.    by David Rankin Operations & Project Management Visit osborne-group.com for other ideas and opinions from our Principals on a range of topics. Their views are their own and do not necessarily represent The Osborne Group’s perspective. The Osborne Group provides interim executive management, consulting and project support across all sectors and over a broad scope of service areas. mp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;br /&amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;br /&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br...

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Flat Squirrel Syndrome? Doesn’t have to be your affliction!

Posted by on Jan 5, 2017 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

A phrase I saw displayed in poster format in a Toronto firm’s conference room sparked some thought.  It said “The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn’t make a decision”. We have all seen the poor squirrel confronted on the busy roadway facing big decisions with sometimes fatal results. Perhaps we share the same dilemma in business? The prominence of this poster was there to prompt action from staff to be decisive and develop better habits towards change management. It seemed that putting off decisions, tactics or strategic changes had been problematic in the past. The typical reasons used to delay decisions include, poor or little information, too much information, lack of courage with high-impact change, and finally, well-practiced staff complacency. Why does indecision exist and sometimes persist? Is there a good time to put off decisions? In my experience all projects involve decisions. Any change or implementation plan to improve requires timely decisions, based on the best information at hand. We all can suffer from indecision from time to time. The real issue here is getting good quality information, presented in a clear and concise way so decisions can be made and business can move forward! I remember several years ago when faced with completely changing our company’s supply chain, something that had a large national sales impact, a mentor gave me some quick points to use to ensure quick but informed decisions. It went like this: O – Write the opportunity or objective down in a concise form in a short paragraph S – Determine and state the current status of the situation I – Determine and state the issues that need to be navigated R – Develop a clear recommendation If you or your staff can’t write a concise statement on one page using those 4 points then you don’t have a well thought out solution or decision to consider. Pretty simple! Once you have mastered this technique the decisions start to move faster and with better results. If you want more coaching on this technique please drop me a line. David Rankin Operations & Project Management amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;lt;div style=”display:inline;”&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;lt;img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”” src=”//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/940422155/?value=0&amp;amp;amp;guid=ON&amp;amp;amp;script=0″/&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /> &amp;lt;/div&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br />...

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