Lose-Lose Relationship

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Everyone in Canada pretty much knows about the latest saga which is currently happening between our federal postal service, Canada Post, and its unionized postal delivery workers. At the time of writing this, the union was holding back from any labour disruptions…for at least a day.

The first labour disruption will involve the union workers not working any overtime hours in Alberta and the North West Territories. This arrangement will slowly roll out across the country. Per a radio interview that I heard, that amounts to just over one hour per week per postal delivery worker. Not a large disruption but it also makes you wonder why they have to work that much overtime over the whole system. That would be the subject for another few blogs since it is a pretty big topic.

I was talking to the postal delivery worker who is in charge of my community postal box last week. To say the least, she is not impressed since she does not know what is going on. As of Friday afternoon, the union had told her that they would be calling all workers Sunday night in regards to their work arrangement for Monday.

In talking to her, she said something that got me thinking. ‘This is a lose-lose situation. We are going to lose income while Canada Post is going to lose clients and revenue”. Currently, Canada Post delivers the last 5 kilometers of a packages’ travels for 66% of online transactions. Online retailers will need to look for alternatives or allow revenue to go to other retailers.

As in the case of many government policies, a labour disruption at Canada Post can be a disruptive event which will cause business to change their operations for long term sustainability.

Would a labour disruption at a postal service affect your company? How would you deal with it?

Have an awesome and productive week.

Kevin

Update as of September 6, 2016: Canada Post and the postal workers have come to a 2 year tentative agreement. Traditionally, they develop a 4 year agreement but the major issues were not fully dealt with. Hopefully, over the next 4 years, Canada Post and its union will be talking about solving their differences.

Update as of September 26, 2016: To my understanding, the vote still hasn’t been called by the union to see if the membership accepts the deal.

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Kevin is hosting a workshop series known as Entrepreneurial Community Edmonton. The workshops cover different areas of business, including finance, human resources, and collections. You can find more information at http://www.l6sbc.ca/ecyeg.html

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

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Lack of Uniqueness Part 5 of 6

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Over the last 4 weeks, I went over 4 of the most common reasons why companies are not successful, according to the Small Business Administration of the United States. You will see that there are some common elements to each of the 6. Feel free to look at the original article here.

In the world of corporate strategy, there is one place that all companies, at one time or another, would like to get to. At this place, competition becomes irrelevant. It is not for a lack of effort, but in most cases, it is a place that most companies don’t get to. During that time, you can build your brand and improve your business so you are always the one and only who is on the island.

With a complete Blue Ocean Strategy, a company is able to carve out a market space which is uncontested and establishes a new demand for a product or service where there is no equivalent.[1]  The most common company which has developed a Blue Ocean Strategy is Circle de Soleil. There is no alternative to going to an adult show which mixes opera, gymnastics, and the circus together. Overall, building a Blue Ocean Strategy is a means to developing uniqueness to your company which allows it to stand out.

What are the different elements of a unique company? What are different ways your company can stick out?

Business Model: Does your business fulfill a market need in a different manner than established competitors? A very current example would be Uber. The business model is based on saving time for the consumer and allowing the consumer to have greater control or transparency during their experience.

Product: Does your product look, feel, or act the same as your competitors? What level of uniqueness does your product bring to the marketplace? Does your product solve an unknown problem that the consumer is just getting at?

Experience: How is your customer experience different from others? Do you interact with your customer on a basic level in person or on social media? Do you develop an experience for your consumer where they are happy and wanting to deal with you again?

Uniqueness can be something very hard to define and develop. Depending on the industry and how hard it is to start a business in that industry, your uniqueness is constantly being challenged and has to be reinvented.

What makes your business unique? How do you protect that uniqueness?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867.

Kevin is hosting three social media workshops at 14920 Stony Plain Rd NW, Edmonton, AB T5P 3X8 (Pura Vida Mind Body Soul). The March 29, 2016 workshop will be about Facebook, April 26, 2016 will be about Twitter, while the May 24, 2016 workshop will be covering LinkedIn. All session run from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. Food and refreshments will be available. Contact Kevin to register.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy

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Do I Have to Really?

With the way that society is driven, everyone fits into a specific box.  People are introverts or extroverts. Shy or colourful. Talkative or quiet. There seems to be no grey area which is acceptable. A label must be tagged onto each person so we know how to deal with them best.

It is expected that people are either a morning person or a night owl. If this was the case, wouldn’t society set itself up for success? Wouldn’t that mean that businesses be closed or not operating during ‘non productive’ hours? In some way, you would have a morning crew and night crew, if you have the work and man power.

Morning Person

Observations that I have made tells me that people are mostly not morning or night people…but unmotivated to start out their day or comfortable. 1 out of 10 persons like to get up early in the morning, 2 out of 10 are most productive late at night, while the other 7 out of 10 people are able to be productive early in the morning or late at night[1].

Each person knows their own body the best. You know when you are most productive. Set your schedule to help maximize your productivity.

One of the benefit of waking up early is that you can get a lot of work done while others are sleeping. The same is true for a night owl. 8 out of 10 people are sleeping when night owls are working which is very close to the 9 out of 10 people sleeping while the morning person is working.

So what should you do?

Self-awareness: Pay attention to your energy level and mood during different times of the day. Find out when you are most effective.

Routine: Once you know when you are most productive, set a routine so you can take advantage of your premium productive time.

Communicate: Communicate with friends, families, and co-workers what your schedule is like. People will fully understand the need to maximize the productive of your efforts.

Would you consider yourself a night owl? A morning person? How have you tried to adjust your schedule? I would love to hear.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867

 

[1] https://www.nasw.org/users/llamberg/larkowl.htm

Are the Walls Moving?

Walmart somewhat surprised a number of people last week in closing 269 stores around the globe.[1] For many retailers, this would drastically effect the company but in the case of Walmart, the stores being closed only reflect 1% of total sales and square footage.  The majority of the stores being closed are of the small variety, while Walmart still plans to open over 135 larger format stores within the next fiscal year starting February 1. In total 16,000 people will lose their jobs due to this restructuring.

Seeing that the majority of stores being closed are of the small variety, it can be ascertained that Walmart is looking at decreasing their own internal costs by increasing the retail square foot per employee at a store.

Walmart has developed a poor reputation in numerous communities by driving prices down where local stores can’t compete and paying employees’ minimum wages. In many cases, this has increased the strain on the social services offered by governments. Walmart, somewhat to its own credit, has started to increase wages for its employees, at least in the States.[2] While Walmart has grown with the number of locations it operates, it has become harder for it to find employees to operate the locations.

As you can see, a large proportion of Walmart’s decisions are financially based. Of the 4 value propositions (low price, customer experience, product leadership, and quality), Walmart is competitimg with the proposition that many consider to be the weakest to defend. It should be noted that of the largest companies in the world. Walmart stands out as being possibly the only company that competes fundamentally on price to the consumer.

Has the value proposition undertaken at Walmart starting to hurt the giant? It is widely known that its suppliers are expected to decrease their unit costs over a set period of time.  Has that sponge been squeezed dry? With prices going up at other retailers, do this allow Walmart some availability to also increase their prices?

I recently read an article (you can find it here) stating that this could be the beginning of the end for Walmart. I see this as a small reorganization of the company. Walmart has closed stores in 2013 and has actually abandoned Germany as a market.

What are your thoughts on the Walmart store closures? Is this the beginning of the end?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867

[1] http://news.walmart.com/news-archive/2016/01/15/walmart-continues-sharpened-focus-on-portfolio-management

[2] http://www.wsj.com/articles/wal-mart-to-increase-wages-for-most-u-s-store-workers-1453315937

Don’t Ignore the Negativity

 

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Over the past few weeks, I was able to follow my other passion (the Edmonton Oil Kings) during a 6 game, 10 day road trip across the province of British Columbia.

We were a small group of 5 individuals, who had a common bond for the appreciation of our favorite junior hockey team. We got to know each other fairly well by spending almost every waking hour with each other. At times, we spent 8 hours together in a minivan traveling in between our games.

During the road trip, it became apparent that two participants (the Negatives) had decided to view everything as if the glass was half empty. Negativity was the meal of choice during the 10 day road trip.

Another member (Mr. Positive) of the road trip stated to me that is was very hard to deal with the negativity that the two people were constantly serving. During our conversation, Mr. Positive stated that he was just going to start ignoring them.

Upon hearing this, I gave Mr. Positive a few suggestions that have worked for me in the past when dealing with negative people.

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Don’t Ignore, Listen: During the road trip, I noticed that the Negatives stated more than once that nobody listens to them. From what I noticed, they were conditioned to bring up negative things because it brought out a reaction from people, telling them that they are being listened to.

Actively Listen: At times, they don’t know what they are saying, and by repeating it to them, it makes them think about it even more.

Don’t Interrupt: Interruptions can be a cause for frustration which can lead to negatives thoughts. Allow the Negatives to finish off their thoughts and process what was being said. Maybe they just want someone to listen to them?

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STAY!: Walking away from someone that is negative will only build resentment, shows the Negatives that you don’t value them, and helps to build barriers. Stay focussed on the Negative and their story.

Smile: I am sure that you know that it is not easy to be mad or frustrated when someone has a genuine smile. Smiling, if anything else, will help to improve your own mood while the Negatives are making their point.

Open communication, patience, and focus will give the attention that many Negatives are looking for.  Many Negatives are looking for attention and breaking people down, for some, is the way to go.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

 

 

Is It Overblown?

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People are now always craving more information. There is no real boundary in the type of information that people are willing to consume. The media plays a very important part in the consumption of information since they are the traditional main channel for people to attain the information.

In knowing this, do people take the information with a grain of salt, since the information being given to them is naturally slated or biased based off the view point of the reporter or the media channel?

Recently, Sarah Thomas (picture above) was named as the first female referee ever in the NFL. For a few days, the media attention was very focused on her. I personally didn’t hear the media report about her credentials, her training, or experience as being a referee but only the fact that she was female.

If I told you that the latest male referee hired by the NFL had 20 years of experience at high school and college level along with the last 2 years being spent in the NFL’s elite officiating development program, would you congratulate him on his credentials and on being hired by the NFL?[1] The above resume actually belongs to Sarah Thomas, but yet, very few people have noticed that she deserves this opportunity.

Do you believe that the media takes a negative or ‘Hollywoodish’ view on every news story? Sarah Thomas and all other referees will undergo the same scrutiny and harsh criticism after every game that is played. I just hope that we don’t hear that the call was blown because ‘she is a girl’.

Have an awesome week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/apr/12/scrutiny-awaits-nfls-first-female-referee

It Is Not In The Name

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As with anything else, one thing can have various names behind it. At times, they are the same thing, but the basis and the methodology behind it is the same. This is also the case with process improvement, lean, process optimization, or process transformation. Essentially, these elements are the same thing.

While looking at my Twitter feed, I noticed a posting from EY Canada, the former Ernst and Young, that spoke about ‘Optimizing your operations through process transformation’. Click here to see a copy of the post. I opened the posting because I found it interesting due to my Lean Six Sigma background.

In reading the posting, it became obvious to me that they were talking about lean. Instead of calling it lean, they were calling it process transformation. Instead of recommending people to follow the DMAIC methodology (Define, Measure, Analyze, Implement, and Control), they recommended that companies Identify and Diagnose, Design, and then Deliver and Sustain on their process improvement projects.

All in all, with the different terminology, it has the same goal in mind. Identify waste or unrequired steps in your processes, take action to remove those steps, and develop a control plan for going forward. Being an accounting firm, EY Canada focused more on the business processes that occur within an office than the factory floor. In many cases, that is where the biggest savings are from lean activities.

The waste in an office is not visual, in many cases. You can’t physically see a journal entry travel within a computer, but by getting into the detailed process, steps can be identified which don’t add value or many actually add a layer of complexity to the process.

What methodology do you use to identify waste within your business processes? Have you completed a review of your business processes?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups, his condo board and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinics on a bi-weekly basis.

Image: F Delventhal from Flickr Common Creative

You’re Not Alone

Last week, I was at a workshop which dealt with change management, and more specially, managing that change when it is being pushed by technology. The workshop was attended by a couple government organizations but the primary focus was on entrepreneurs.

Some of the entrepreneurs represented larger companies who are established or leading their respective industries. Other entrepreneurs were solo-entrepreneurs who haven’t scaled up yet or in the process of developing their niche of the market.

As the day went on and we heard from different speakers, we would ask questions of the speaker and the group. Many of the questions, no matter of the company size, were fairly similar in their line of thinking.

At the end of the day, one of the participants stated that he was happy to learn that he wasn’t the only person in his position. During my professional career, and more recently with my direct work with entrepreneurs, I have learned that entrepreneurs are never alone if they are willing to ask and accept help.

Within Edmonton, there are different organizations that can help you with networking events (@SEBAOnline for example), gaining business tools (@BusinessLink), help you to achieve government programs (@NRC_CNRC), and of course other entrepreneurs.

I would be very surprised if there isn’t someone in your network that has gone through what you are going through. Ask for help and you just might receive it.

What types of issues or problems are bothering you? What keeps you up at night?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups, his condo board and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinics on a bi-weekly basis.

Feel free to contact Kevin at @L6SBC or www.putechnologies.tk

 

Wow Am I Busy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen going to a networking event, water cooler talk, or catching up with a friend, it is a very common question to ask “How was your day at work today?” Commonly, we answer back “Oh, I was super busy!” Personally, I have always thought it was interesting that people answered that they were busy.

In my experience, if you were not busy working on something, why would you be employed there? Employers typically don’t hire people to have their feet on their desk or play Facebook games all day. If you are employed, I expect you to be busy, which is why I typical ask “What were you busy doing?” The answer I got… “Welllll…you know…stuff.”

Personally, when I am ‘busy’, I remember what I have been working on. At the very least, I can take out my to-do list and show you what has been working on.

Is telling someone you are busy the correct thing to say? Is ‘being busy’ a way of showing people your worth to a company? Is it a sense of pride to be busy? If that is the case, shouldn’t we be altering our answers?

What if you were to say “I have the Rothschild proposal progressing, got a new office manager hired, and made a huge breakthrough with a client”?

Being busy means that your plate is full but it doesn’t mean that you are productive. You could be working on a number of things, but maybe you are not prioritizing your efforts properly. You may be busy but you are fighting fires because a vision is not in place and an end goal is not there to be achieved.

Being busy is great….but what about being productive? Isn’t that the true badge of honour that every person should strive for at work? I believe that anyone can be busy, but not everyone can be productive.

How productive have you been during the last week?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups, his condo board and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinics on a bi-weekly basis.

Feel free to contact Kevin at @L6SBC or www.putechnologies.tk

A New Year is Coming

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Every year, as we start and look ahead into the New Year (which is only weeks away), we ask people around us “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” I found that approximately 40% of people actually make a New Year’s Resolution while 8% are able to meet that resolution[1].

I don’t see myself as someone that sets resolutions, but I do set S.M.A.R.T. goals for myself. You may say that there is no difference between setting a goal and setting a resolution. A resolution is “a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad”[2] while a goal is “a desired result a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development.[3]

From this standpoint, a goal has a timeline and a plan. A resolution is a change you want to make but with no timeline, plan, or point of interest in mind. With these items lacking, it makes sense that resolutions are not kept.

For the coming year, when you are thinking about your New Year’s Resolution, how about making it a S.M.A.R.T goal.

S: Specific – I want to lose 15 pounds is a much better goal than I want to lose weight.

M: Measurable – You are able to measure 15 pounds using a scale.

A: Achievable – It is very possible to lose 15 pounds with a good diet and exercise but it might be harder to lose 150 pounds within the same time period, depending on body stature.

R: Relevant – Does it make sense to say you want to lose 150 pounds while you weigh 225 pounds already?

T: Time Specific – Do you want to lose the weight during the year, 2 years, or 2 weeks?

What goals are you going to strive for during 2015? How do you see your to do list for 2015 developing? I would love to hear.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups, his condo board and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinics on a bi-weekly basis.

Feel free to contact Kevin at @L6SBC or www.putechnologies.tk

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/ Dan Diamond, January 1, 2013

[2] http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/new-year-s-resolution

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goal

Photo Credit:  Steve Jurvetson