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Changes that prove why elections DO matter

Posted by on Jul 18, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

During the run-up to the recent provincial election, there was much written about whether elections matter and whether it really makes a difference which party forms our government. The events of this past week demonstrate that it does in fact matter greatly and the impact of the change is immediate and far-reaching. It is no surprise to anyone that I am not an unbiased bystander in the drama unfolding in Ontario as the new conservative government flexes its muscles and assumes the reins of power. And it is not my intentîon to write a partisan political blog. However, as a business owner, I do want to make the point that a change in government is always a risky event – especially when the values of the new regime are so different from the outgoing one. Whether you are a not for profit that relies on government funding to provide your services to clients, or a company working hard to be successful in whatever sector you operate, the government of the day plays a crucial role in your ability to achieve your organizational goals. Substantive changes in policy direction create both threats and opportunities for business. This fact has been demonstrated in the past few weeks in a number of sectors. On the threat side, consider the fulfillment of a campaign promise to terminate the CEO of Hydro One which set in motion a number of events. This, of course, includes the entire Board of Directors and created a loss in the value of the company of nearly half a billion dollars at market close yesterday. On the other hand, an opportunity has been created by the new Government’s decision to allow the sale of beer and wine in corner stores, providing the convenience store industry with an entree into a brand new market previously closed to them. The cancellation of cap and trade signals to the relatively new Green energy sector (that this government is not particularly supportive of) means that they will need to refocus on markets outside of Ontario for growth and future success. The cancellation of rebates on electric vehicles and home energy efficiency retrofits will send automakers and small builders and contractors scrambling. Only time will tell whether the opportunities will offset the threats and whether business leaders in Ontario are astute enough to manage through what may be rocky times ahead. This comes from the uncertainty surrounding trade talks with our major export market and is amped up by the policy changes coming out of Queen’s...

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Executive Coaching: Why?

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

A leadership article in Forbes summarized the results of a leadership survey completed by Stanford University and The Miles Group. The survey showed that while 2/3’s of Chief Executives don’t use coaching or leadership advice from outside their organizations, nearly 100% said they wish that they had done so. CEOs, like others, have blind spots and can significantly improve their performance by using an outside perspective in a similar way that an elite athlete uses a Coach. As the non-profit sector becomes ever more complex CEO’s and Executive Directors (Executives) are beginning to use Executive Coaches in a more meaningful manner. An interesting finding from a Harvard Business Review survey on coaching found that only 3% of Executive Coaches were hired to assist their clients to address personal issues. At the same time, 76% of the Coaches stated that they have assisted Executives with personal issues. Since personal life can and often does have a direct impact on success at work, and since Executives spend many hours at their jobs, it makes sense that personal issues would have an impact on work life. Executives are asking their Coaches to discuss personal issues on a regular basis. Therefore it is important that the Coach is comfortable and skilled in assisting the Executive in addressing personal as well as work issues. When selecting a Coach two variables tend to underlie the success of the coaching relationship. First, and most importantly, the Executive wants to work with a Coach and sees the relationship as being helpful. If the coaching relationship is being forced on the Executive by his/her Board Directors the chance of a successful coaching relationship being developed is lessened. The second variable that is crucial to a successful coaching relationship is the relationship between the Executive and Coach. Research stresses that the Executive/Coach relationship needs to be a trusting one for the Executive to benefit from the coaching. Therefore the Executive should input into the selection of a...

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Are we training our managers how to manage?

Posted by on Jun 27, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review about how we can better assess whether a candidate is ready for a management role. It also talked about some of the skills a manager requires that should be the basis for recruitment. Another article, the source of which I wish I could remember but can’t, spoke to the over-investment large corporations make in executive-level training. My recent observations (granted, not scientific), support the notion that we reward good performance with successive promotions, often to a management level, but that companies neglect to train those new managers how to manage.  It’s as though we believe that good management skills are somehow intuitive, or gained through osmosis. My observation is that these skills are gained through trial and error or worse, not gained at all, leading to inefficient, unproductive teams, poor organizational culture, unhappy frontline staff, and ultimately, high turnover rates. Christy DeMont’s article about effective leadership is great reading. And it caused me to reflect on the next level in the organization – the managers – those who are responsible for translating strategy into action.  It feels to me as though there’s a training void there; too many managers trying hard to manage people and budgets, relinquish their staff role, motivate and guide employees (who might have previously been colleagues) – all without any help in the transition. Failure to achieve corporate goals is typically not a failure of vision, and often not even a failure of strategy – it is a failure of execution.  Perhaps some of the resources dedicated to executive-level training might be more helpful at the management level. Visit Osborne-group.com for other Principals’ ideas and opinions on a range of topics. The Osborne Group provides interim executive management, consulting and project support across all sectors and over a broad scope of service...

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Remembering Tony Schwartz: The Communication Genius of Manhattan

Posted by on Jun 14, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

Ten years ago this month, we lost one of the most innovative communications thinkers in the world, a man who profoundly affected the world of politics and advertising. “’Media consultant’ is barely adequate to describe Mr. Schwartz’s portfolio,” The New York Times obituary of Tony Schwartz noted. “In a career of more than half a century, he was an art director; advertising executive; urban folklorist (in one project, capturing the cacophony of New York streets on phonograph records); radio host; Broadway sound designer; college professor; media theorist; author; and maker of commercials for products, candidates and causes. “What was more, Mr. Schwartz, who had suffered from agoraphobia since the age of 13, accomplished most of these things entirely within his Manhattan home.” By the time I heard of Tony Schwartz, he had already been canonized by many of the American political professionals I had come to know through Campaigns & Elections conferences in Washington, DC., conferences that offered practical seminars such as Damage Control: Once it’s too late, now what?, Running a Woman Candidate: A How-To, Interviewing with Authority: Practical Tips on Controlling the Situation and the ever popular, How to Knife your Opposition in the Back. Schwartz changed political communications and advertising forever when he created what is still considered to be the most effective political ad in history, the Daisy ad produced for Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater presidential race. In the ad, a little girl begins to count down from ten as she plucks the petals from a daisy. A deep, male voice takes over the countdown. The camera zooms in on the child’s eye and reflected in her pupil is an exploding mushroom cloud as we hear the sound of an explosion. President Johnson’s voice continues the narration: “These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” The line is from a poem W. H. Auden wrote at the beginning of World War II. “Though the name of Johnson’s opponent, Senator Barry M. Goldwater, was never mentioned,” the New York Times wrote, “Goldwater’s campaign objected strenuously to the ad. So did many members of the public, Republicans and Democrats alike. The spot was pulled from the air after a single commercial, though it was soon repeated on news broadcasts. It had done its work: with its dire implications about Goldwater and nuclear responsibility, the daisy ad was credited with contributing to Johnson’s landslide victory at the polls in November.” Tony Schwartz went on to create dozens of ads for politicians including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and created thousands more...

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The Greatest Challenge Facing the Non-Profit Sector

Posted by on Jun 6, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

According to Imagine Canada, the non-profit sector includes over 170,000 charitable and non-profit organizations with 85,000 of those being registered charities. Imagine Canada highlights that the charitable and non-profit sector contributes an average of 8.1% of total Canadian GDP, more than the retail trade industry and close to the value of the mining, oil and gas extraction industry. Over 13 million people volunteer and two million people work in the non-profit sector. This sector is under increasing pressure to address multiple needs in a variety of communities across Canada while having limited resources. Yet, resources are only one challenge facing the non-profit sector. Based on a review of the literature it is clear that the non-profit sector is facing numerous challenges in addition to ongoing financial challenges. In January 2016, Joanne Cave wrote an article in The Philanthropist identifying 5 key trends facing the non-profit sector. These trends are still relevant today. They include: Investment in leadership development and capacity-building; Increased emphasis on ‘decent work’ and best practices in human resources; The social finance and social innovation tipping point;   Shared platforms and administrative outsourcing; and New frontiers for technology and data management. I would add a sixth trend to this list:   Increased emphasis on social enterprise development. In this blog, I am going to discuss the first challenge: “Investment in leadership development and capacity-building” because I believe this is the greatest challenge facing the non-profit sector over the next decade. The complexity of leading non-profits has become increasingly challenging and will continue to do so in the future. Non-profits are faced with complex issues including operating within an uncertain funding environment; an expectation from funders to partner with other providers who are also competitors for funding; continued increase in community needs; an expectation of ongoing evaluation and increased public accountability; complex human resources issues such as unionization, staff retention, and provincial staff training expectations; increased competition for limited funds; increased pressure to merge agencies; an expectation to create and operate innovative social enterprises; and a growing need to use technology without corresponding funds to support the purchase the required technology. And these are only a few of the challenges of operating a successful non-profit. Non-profit leaders have tended to grow up within the non-profit sector, having pursued education and training in social services, social work, community services, and other non-profit sectors. Most current leaders have begun their careers at the front-line level and have grown into their management positions, with limited formal management training. To respond to today’s and tomorrow’s growing non-profit leadership challenges, business schools are increasingly adding full-time and part-time courses for the non-profit leader. In the future, we will be seeing more and more MBA...

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We were ‘gig’ before ‘gig’ was big

Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Osborne Insights Blogs | 0 comments

There have been many articles and a lot of discussions recently about the ‘gig’ economy and how it will impact the economy going forward. From Forbes to Harvard Business Review and Fast Company to The Globe and Mail. Everyone, it seems, has something to say about it. It is seen as an extension of the sharing economy and is characterized in part as organizations contracting with independent workers for short-term engagements. While there are many discussion points and views to take, it appears that the gig economy is here to stay, at least until the next ‘ways of working’ evolution takes hold. We at The Osborne Group have been working the gig economy since our inception 25 years ago. We feel like we were part of the laying of the foundation of this ‘new’ phenomenon. We love it and we thrive on it, but the real benefit is to our clients. Here are just a few reasons that taking advantage of the gig economy may make sense for you: Gives you the ability to inject experience and knowledge for the short-term, or long-term, often at a moment’s notice Saves the cost of on-boarding and employee benefits May save the cost of office space and personal technology needs, depending on the project/role Gives you greater control over your talent budget with quick access to a deeply talented team that can work for the hour, the day, the week or the month – whatever your needs require Little or no ramp-up time is needed – we have the experience and knowledge to hit the ground running Our extensive experience and focus means we often complete projects and assignments in less time than is planned If any of these appeal to you I urge you to give it a try. You will become part of the growth of this new way of managing human capital and I know you will be glad that you...

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