The RG Blog
While we ponder how best to present meeting reports on our site here is a recent one.
RG Saturday 12th May 2012
The meeting started with the AGM, followed by Nanette Young who gave a member presentation. This is an occasional slot, where RG members provide an overview of their interests and business activities.
Nanette Young - Auld Scott and Co
Nanette runs a consultancy called Auld Scott and Co, which provides professional procurement expertise to private, public and not for profit sectors. She recollected that when she first started in 1995, people didn’t know what procurement was – it was just shopping, wasn’t it? Nanette is a fellow Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, which in 2003 had 30,000 members and now has 65,000 and 20,000 student in China waiting to become qualified. The role has evolved and with it the business model that Nanette employs. Typically services include maturity reviews, looking at outsourcing procurement functions, category management, framework agreements and contract negotiations, best practice and recommendations for improvements and recruitment.
Skills for Strategic Thinking - David Norman (Leadership Dynamix)
After coffee we were joined by David Norman. David’s session was exploring some of the mental skills needed for thinking strategically. He outlined a number of ideas and emphasised the need to start with the “end-in-mind;” envision what you want the end to look like. But this end result is not goal setting and strategic thinking is not about developing specific goals. You’re looking at the “big picture” literally in front of you and need to be able to visualise what you expect the business to look like in future – say in one year, five years, and so on, out. David explained that it’s then helpful to imagine a “future back” scenario and then by planning milestones backwards to the beginning it becomes easier to evolve a workable strategic vision. This will enable you to make more balanced decisions that take account of both prevalent (especially in the current environment) short-term tactical thinking and action with a more strategic medium or longer time perspective.
There are many strategy planning techniques (e.g. growth/share portfolio planning, scenario planning, balanced scorecard, value chains, blue ocean strategy, etc.) that are complimentary to and benefit from being aligned with this approach. It also draws on inductive thinking (details to big picture) and deductive thinking (general to specific) and even adductive (same level metaphors) is critical to its successful use. Most people in business are naturally inclined towards deductive thinking. As for thinking preferences a quick review of the audience, using one of David’s tools, revealed the thinking profile of those present, split between visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and detached (non-sensory - auditory digital) (VAKD). Those familiar with NLP will recognise the classifications. It was important to recognise the sensory-based language (predicates) used by people during this thinking process; it can indicate the tendency of the individual.
A simple exercise asking the audience to point in the direction that they imagined their future, led to a classification of "in-time" people, (pointing ahead) and "through-time" people (pointing to one side – typically their right). “Manyana” (tomorrow will do – but never comes!) time people see no beginning or end but a continual spiral or cycle of events. This may matter since this will determine where they locate and how effective their big pictures of a future and compelling vision of the business.
A stimulating and animated session, with much audience participation and observation added to the enjoyment.
The Richmond Group of Independent Consultants has held its 30th Anniversary Party on 4th May 2012.
Reception for 60 people at which the Richmond Group celebrated its 30th anniversary on 4th May 2012.
The Richmond Group was constituted in 1982 and arose from a special interest group within the Institute of Management Consultancy (IMC), which had been meeting regularly in Richmond, Surrey.
The Richmond Group has grown since then both in numbers and the spread of Members' locations. The Group currently has about 60 member practices based mainly in the South East of England although our network extends nationally and internationally.
With its cadre of senior, experienced members who bring exceptional skills and experience to assignments, the Richmond Group rivals many of the major consultancies. Indeed it is from these large consultancies that many of our Members have gained their consultancy training and experience at senior level, while others have held important positions in industry and commerce.
Members have expertise in a very wide range of specialist areas and this allows the Group to support both private and public sector organisations very effectively at a time when the UK government is encouraging economic growth.
The current chairman of the Richmond Group, Chris Edge, also advised that “Advanced Business Solutions agreed to sponsor this event and to celebrate their partnership with the Richmond Group which will help UK commercial and industrial organisations, and those in the public sector, to develop strategies for business improvement and growth.”
Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon said that “I am delighted to host this event for the Richmond Group. There is a desperate need for business growth in our country and the work of the professionals associated with the Richmond Group is a key component in the recovery of UK PLC”
This event marks out the Richmond Group as a long-established and professional body of independent consultants well-known and respected by UK and international organisations for assisting business growth – see: /pages/rg.php. For further information, contact Alan Finn, RG member company FINNbiz Consultants, on 0560 313 2036 and email@example.com
RG Saturday 10th March 2012
At the RG meeting in Cobham on the 10th March three members gave brief presentations on their businesses and how these might be of relevance to RG members.
The first of these was given by John Mcnealy and Kelvin Forrester of Carnaby ERP which has been trading for 7.5 years and is a financial management system implementation consultancy.
They explained that they deliver business software and services focused on 4 areas; Finance, Supply chain, Business Process design and Customer Management.
John and Kelvin are looking for RG colleagues to fill "expertise" gaps in projects with clients.
Hugh has an exceptional sales pedigree having worked sales, sales management, and been a sales director for significant IT firms. Hugh left the corporate world in 2007 and became a consultant working with clients on improving the effectiveness of their sales organisations.
Hugh&rsquos observation was that there is nothing new in sales &ndash which raises the question of how do you differentiate yourself?
Hugh&rsquos thesis was that sales are built on three pillars: Process, Structure and Talent
He quoted research which showed that 60% of revenues come from 20% of the sales force or looked at the other way round, 80% of the field force deliver only 40% of the revenues.
The focus is on structure and process - but the law of diminishing returns has kicked in over the last 20 years. The missing element is talent for which there were 5 key ingredients: Cultural fit, Motivators, Critical reasoning, Skills and Behaviour.
His business is focused on on-line role based assessment which can tackle the last four. This assessment is empirically backed by a database of 10,000 individual assessments as a benchmark.
By using these rigorous assessments judgements can be made on whether to re-deploy, skills train, or coach (for behaviour change) individuals such that individual can match the roles they are place d in. Hugh sees the application of talent assessment as the lever to transform the sales effectiveness of today&rsquos sales organisations.
More details can be found at www.salesassessment.com - making sure the talent matches the role
Footnote: During his talk Hugh recommended a book by Jim Collins &ndash &ldquofrom good to Great&rdquo &ndash as well worth reading. Probably a good read for anyone interested in business development.
She started her career in P&G marketing and then moved to international consulting firm Accenture. She has been an independent consultant for the past 7 years, focusing on working with senior teams. She ran a leadership centre at INSEAD and has also lectured on leadership and strategy topics at INSEAD and the London Business School.
She defined Culture as how a group of people understand and interpret the world. However, it was like an iceberg with the tip of the culture visible, but most aspects invisible. As for ourselves, some of our cultural assumptions are conscious, most are not.
Specific characteristics demonstrating difference included:
- Attitudes to time
Different cultures view different approaches as "the right way to do things". The trick is to realise that there is no right or wrong; there are just different ways of assessing and valuing situations; and to understand how your behaviours are perceived by those from a different culture and understand their actions in the context of their own cultural beliefs and norms.
The discussion moved onto the use of language, and a speaker from the floor observed that with English as the universal language of business we now had the situation where many cultures were using the same words &ndash but with completely different meanings given the diversity of cultural backgrounds. Cristina shared with us a very humorous &ndash but accurate &ndash translation table for phrases used by a British speaker and how these can- very understandably - be misinterpreted by someone from a different culture.
Cristina finished the session with a brief exploration of the neurological reasons why cultures are hard-wired into all of us &ndash and some strategies for managing these differences intelligently.
Cristina&rsquos message can best be summarised in the quotes she shared with us:
&ldquoEverything we say or think about another culture usually says more about us & where we come from, than about the culture we are assessing.&rdquo
&ldquoWe see things not as they are, but as we are.&rdquo &ndash Anais Nin
From the conversations I had with members over lunch it was clear that all found the talk fascinating and relevant to their own lives in some way or other. We were all, ever so gently, made to see that what we think we are seeing is not necessarily correct, since our lenses are so biased by the tint of our own cultures.
RG Saturday 14th January 2012
The meeting began with the Chairman presenting certificates to our 6 new members.
The Richmond Group’s 30+ members attending were treated to two excellent seminars by our three guest speakers.
Consulting in the Middle market
She explained that there are great opportunities for independent consultants such as those in the Richmond Group,
Sally’s company commissioned two pieces of research led by Fiona Czernlawska of Source for Consulting, to identify where these opportunities are and how best they could be exploited.
These ogranisations suffer greatly with poorly designed processes and inefficient legacy systems.
Sally reiterated the opportunities for the RG to work with them and stated there is cost involved and asked those interested to register their details on their dedicated portal "consulting connect."
Diversity – a tool for organisational growth
Liz Kennedy a well respected consultant and academic presented a very lively and interactive discussion on diversity in the workplace.
Liz covered the legislation which has taken place from 1943 to the Equality Act 2010. This Act was the first to introduce “discrimination by perception”
Members cited their own experiences of discrimination including what sounds now (but not at the time), very comical anecdotes.
Throughout her presentation Liz made the argument that not only is it right to treat everyone fairly, it also makes business sense, not least in improving morale and enabling innovative thinking. Poor practices on the other hand create a potentially destructive and ineffective work force where effort can be withdrawn.
To put this in context Liz outlined business cases on both good and poor diversity practice.
RG Saturday 12th November 2011
A lively crowd of some 30 members and guests heard two enthusiasts talk about the way they were building their business ventures about which they evidently cared deeply.
South London Business Initiatives
Peter Pledger has been Chief Executive of South London Business Ltd since January 2007. South London Business was set up in 1999 to promote and support the business community in the 12 South London boroughs. Over the past five years South Business has grown into a group of Companies delivering business support, business representation, property services, skills development, business awards, apprenticeships, supply chain support and an employment business. It runs a club for the largest businesses in South London and it has a cost effective offer to any business that wishes to be a member with an annual flat rate annual fee of £100 per year.
Peter focused his talk on the need for business to take on apprenticeships and the inhibitions to do so due to the high risk to small businesses of adding employees due to the employment law, tribunals etc.
As a creative entrepreneur, he has found a way to meet this need by developing a new highly focused pair of two-way contracts – one with the apprentice and one with the host business using a model called an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA). This agency directly employs all the apprentices placed with other businesses and so removes the employment risk from the hosts. While dropout rates in the first four weeks in similar to standard employment businesses the progression rate of 100% offered permanent employment of those young people who get through the first four weeks is clearly excellent.
Peter believes this successful pilot has demonstrated the scale of the opportunity and hopes to have ten times as many apprentices under contract within a year. He has also created an incentive scheme for anyone able to provide a placement and for anyone delivering a successful referral.
For more information on how to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Exploring functionality and techniques for web-based meetings – iFacile
Mike Clargo, a well-known and highly respected member of RG, has a particular interest in improving corporate effectiveness through encouraging his large corporate clients to engage in better ways to operate - especially in running meetings. He showed us the results of a recent client survey which highlighted just how much time and travel costs these can entail and the ease with which these ehardf costs could be reduced in order to justify small investments whose real benefits are much harder to measure but far greater.
We were treated to a powerful demonstration of where technology such as live meeting is going to have an enormous impact on meeting productivity at least in organisations where there is an appetite to improve and w willingness to make the small investment required to be successful. In particular, the ability to observe, share and capture everyonefs thoughts on challenging topics and capture the feeling of a meeting with a consensus that leads to action, could transform many organisations ability to turn strategy into successful implementation. Mike is open to collaboration and we expect RG members to find this a valuable and profitable area in which to engage.
For more information, email Mike at email@example.com