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Radio interview

I had a great discussion this morning at Roundhouse Radio as part of their Business In Vancouver show.

The discussions focused on innovative and alternative methodologies on building business models. It also looked a bit at what LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is and how it can help businesses whether they be in the clean-tech space or otherwise.

I found it interesting that there is a discussion about alternative business models or questioning if it is dead. Perhaps I misunderstood the terminology.

I understand the term business model as a construct that describes what we do as a business, who cares about our products and/or services, and why. From there we describe cost structures and revenue streams. As such, it is far from dead. It is quite an essential construct in building a successful enterprise.

What I do agree that is changing is how we go about filling in and building these business models … after all, we do want to have a vibrant and thriving entrepreneurial community in Vancouver.

Some key resources I mentioned during the discussions for new entrepreneurs:

  1. Small business BC
  2. Vancouver Public Library Business Section

You can hear the full recording of today’s show at http://bit.ly/1VVeU8Z

Posted: June 13th, 2016
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Building Confidence

Recently I had the opportunity to work with a management team of food producing company. The owners of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt wanted:

  1. The team to work more independently in the daily management of the company so that the owners could devote more time to growing the business, and
  2. As they trust that the team, they also wanted the team to be more confident in their own abilities.

I was engaged to facilitate a six hour workshop using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology to:

  1. Help the team visualize and understand the overall system in which the business functions, and
  2. Simulate a few key “what-if” scenarios

The workshop journey started with understanding the individual roles within the team and within the general context of the company. The next step of the process was to define the actors that affect the business and their relative importance. This allowed us to create a system with which we could simulate through several key scenarios related to production and operational issues.

Participants building their models

Building the actors that influence the business.

So, what did we uncover? The team discovered for themselves how an event in one area of the business cascades into other areas and how it impacts the overall business cash flow. They arrived to simple guiding principles that will help them guide their decisions during any event in the future. These principles also included key values of the team and the business. Just as important, the team learned more about one another in a very short period of time.

The insight for me was the power of first sharing our individual ideas and then collaboratively constructing a shared story. This gives unity and purpose, thereby enhancing engagement and alignment with the organization’s purpose.

I wish all the success for such a wonderful team and company … and if you ever see a tub of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt on the shelve at your local store, get it! you won’t regret it.

 

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Posted: May 11th, 2016
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Excuses

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else” Benjamin Franklin 

“The best excuse is no excuse!” a phrase my father drilled into me since I was a child. And to be honest, it has served me well when leading teams, and when creating a safe and effective team. By not accepting excuses from one’s self, you won’t accept excuses from others. When you create an environment where team members feel safe to voice their opinions, when you overcome face saving, embarrassments, and fears, you get to a point where the team will not accept excuses.

So, what is an excuse? It is that which we use to make ourselves feel better about a situation or to avoid admitting our fears, founded or not. It is usually a knee-jerk reaction to the question of “Why …?”

Is there an appropriate answer? Yes! It is one where you stand up for your actions, decisions, and look forward to how you can make the best of the situation or at the very least, prevent it from happening in the future if it was deemed a failure. We all fail sometimes, after all, and we are all imperfect: but this should not prevent us from working together in a respectful manner and get good results.

The next time you start a sentence with “because” or “due to”, check if you’re trying to hide from the fact that you failed to foresee a situation or an aspect. If you give an excuse, you’re not only being disrespectful and deceiving to yourself, but worse, to your team. A sure fire way to ensure failure in any endeavour.

Posted: July 19th, 2015
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Information Technology in International Development

Question

You know the story … teach a man to fish …, yes that’s the one. Quite famous in the world of international development. But what does it mean when dealing with information and communication technologies (ICT)?

Does it mean that we send money and consultants to teach other so called developing nations how to use a particular product? Does it mean donating our used equipment? Or does it mean that we share our information with them without royalties and let them sort themselves out?

In either case it creates and maintains a dependency much like the economic dependencies we see in the world today. But this dependency is a knowledge based dependency. The developing world is still dependent on the handouts of the developed world … their willingness to share information and know-how. Granted, that much of this information can be obtained over the internet, but wait, how in the first place do you get an internet infrastructure up and running in a stable and affordable fashion? As a developing nation, where do you get the resources to do so? … remember nothing is for free.

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Posted: February 2nd, 2014
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Got me projects

Projects

What a view, eh? This is from the balcony of my office at the ICT department, 20th (and last) floor at MINED. The view is facing south to Catembe across the water. I also get a decent workout when the elevators are not working!

View from my office

 

I’ve been working with MINED (Ministry of Education) for about a month now. First project was to create a web portal to capture information about the students of the teacher training colleges, some 8,000 – 10,000 students distributed through 24 schools around the country. Now that they are linked to the internet, it is theoretically possible. This information will allow MINED to manage the distribution of teachers throughout the country, make sure that everyone is converting to the new 2 yr curriculum, and then collect final marks at the end of the year.

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Posted: February 2nd, 2013
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