Category Archives: Consulting

Squirrels have a bad rap.

I often compare myself to a squirrel: I see something new, or “shiny”, and I zoom on it. I say it in a positive way, as for me, it illustrates my constant search and interest for new things, other things that may be useful at some point in the future. Collecting “dots” that I will connect later on.

I say it knowing that the most common association of being a squirrel is lack of focus. A dear friend of mine uses it sometimes as a reminder to others in a team setting to “get back on track”: when someone is getting off topic, or too much into details, they shout “SQUIRREL” as a comical and friendly cue to refocus on the task at hand. They sometimes put a picture or an illustration of a cute squirrel on a wall as a visual reminder.

I just saw an the TV commercial (2013 I think) that prompted me to right this post. It highlights the very positive aspects of squirrels which are great attributes to have in business today: squirrels are small, quick, persistent, efficient and AGILE!

I am a Squirrel, and PROUD OF IT!   🙂

What do you think about being a Squirrel?

Are you a Squirrel?

Is your company a Squirrel Company?

PS – Here’s the post where I saw the ad, which show other clever, and very funny TV commercials.

_______________________

Click “Like” if you like this post, and don’t hesitate to share it. And by all means, comment on it.   🙂

Advertisements

What does it mean to be “Agile”

We all hear the word “agile” repeatedly. In all sorts of context. Project management, business, design, etc… Agility is a mindset. A mindset about two things: speed and change.

Speed to get things one quickly to validate pertinence and value. Best example is Agility in product development, and project management. Most of all because we dont want to waste resources, and we want to get it out as fast as possible because it is in demand or you want to be first on the market.

Change because it is constant. Everything is changing constantly: society and business. So the old days of over-planning are gone. Yes, you need to plan, you need a vision, a road map… but you need to test your ideas and assumptions as many times as possible, to make sure you’re on the right track.

We know what has been, but we cannot be sure of what will be, at least not definitely. The target is always moving.

To follow the target, we need to be agile.

But what does it mean to be agile? 

This morning I saw the following diagram posted on LinkedIn by a few people (Marie PineauRomy Schnaiberg and Myriam Plamondon – see references below) which I believe is a good tool to answer that question.

being agile

I like this diagram. It makes complete sense to me. If you think you’re agile, look at each aspects and reflect on it. It might even help you identify things you need to work on if you want to be more agile. Do the same with your company if it wants to be agile. Propose it as a team exercise. Do it separately, anonymously event, and then compare answers. And I mean everyone, management included. 🙂

Come to think of it, this could be used to create an AGILITY Index, for individuals as well as companies. Each of the five aspects could be rated, even double-rated: self-rated and rated by others.

Does it exist? Maybe I should build one. Would you use it?

References* provided by Myriam Plamondon:

  • De Meuse, K. P., Dai, G., & Hallenbeck, G. S. (2010). Learning agility: A construct whose time has come. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 62(2), 119.
  • DeRue, D. S., Ashford, S. J., & Myers, C. G. (2012). Learning agility: In search of conceptual clarity and theoretical grounding. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5(3), 258-279.

* You’ll find them on the web…

_________________________

If you like the post, please “like” it.  🙂

Talking about rates amongst peers…

Rates… How much to charge? Who’s charging how much?  What for? etc. Very subjective topic, and not that straightforward to discuss.

I blogged about this topic last year, What’s in a rate? and Was the rate worth it? to discuss some intrinsic considerations that go into determining rates.

This is a brief summary of 90+ minutes of discussions…

Last Wednesday I facilitated an ISPI Montreal event, entitled “Everything you always wanted to know about rates, but were afraid to ask…“. It was a pretty good event, lots of questions and interaction between participants. We were particularly happy that we had a fair number of student from Concordia University’s Educational Technology program: gave them the opportunity to hear their future peers talk about this hot, business topic.

Part of the event was to present the results of a survey we ran to our local ISPI Montreal members, and compare the results to the same survey dating back to 2004: the conclusion?  Rates have not changed that much over a decade (see for yourself).  Most likely due to the fluctuation of the economy, which affects the job market and the expenditures for training. And we all know that tougher times brings down the axe on training which is always front and center for the chopping block.   😦

We basically asked the participants two questions, to trigger some discussion and reflection…

First: What factors influence the rate you charge when working directly with a client?

Participants broke off in small groups and went off to come up with their prioritized list of factors. We tried to mingle the students evenly so they benefit as mush as possible from their future peers.

The result? See for yourself… (sorry, I’m missing one)

Of course skills set, experience and knowledge came out, but not education per se, or more precisely, the need to have an education such as the one offered in Educational Technology.

What came out more was about the type of work and the context in which that work needs to be done: type of work, the market, the economy, the profile of the work, its length, specific technical skills, the budget available, the industry, etc.

Second: How do you explain/justify your rate?

This question we addressed as one group.

Right off the bat there was a reaction to the word “justify”. Didn’t expect it but wasn’t surprised. What was argued is the rate you present is the rate that should be. I guess it’s fine when either you offer a pretty clear value of what that rate buys, or there isn’t much competition, or you’re in demand – one would assume that if you are in demand then you are worth what you are charging.

But when you don’t have any of those conditions, it’s a different ballgame. Especially if you’re dealing with a client that is bottom-line driven. But you can always pass.

The discussion moved towards the concepts of value, uniqueness and expectations. In essence, it’s about being a business: being a consultant requires that you look at yourself as the “product” your business offers. As such, you need to need to consider these concepts and package a service offer that supports the rate you want.  Or, as one of the students said, the rate you “offer”.

But all in all, rates are just a unit for calculations, right? The bigger question is “how much one takes to do a job?” If one person charges $100/hr and takes 100 hrs to do a job, while another charges $75/hr and takes the same amount of time, with the same outcome in quality and alignment with expectations, why is the cost different? We often say that in theory, the higher the rate, the faster the job and the higher the quality, right? Or is it not so clear cut?

As I say in my previous posts, there are a lot of intrinsic aspects that add value to a person offering their services. The key, as it was discussed in the latter part of the evening, is the value offered and the value required. This leads to clearly stating and understanding expectations from both sides of the fence.

One point was brought up about using salary as a gauge to determine an equivalent rate. A friend of mine who’s working in a para-public organization explained to me the way they do it: you take the salary, for this example let’s say… $50k for a junior position, add 30% to cover benefits, and then account for how much time off you want, how much time you think you’ll need to run your business and LOOK FOR WORK, that gives you a daily rate of about $325 or an hourly rate of $41. These numbers came up with this little Excel sheet I made for you.  🙂

More live discussions should be had, on topics such as base Ratios for Design and Development, scoping & estimating, constraints & risks…

Makes sense?

PS: you can always take a look at my previous posts on these topics:

How to Deal with STRESSED OUT Customers

Thanks Tim!   Another great perspective on understanding and dealing with people. Especially the importance of having a clear enough picture of your own needs and objectives so you know when to… get away.     🙂

Tim Ohai

Next week, I am stoked to be joining my friends Jim Keenan (@keenan) and Anthony Iannarino (@iannarino) for a “jolt of Sales 411.” Our topic is going to be people who drive us nutshow to deal with a pain in the a$$ prospect/customer. Knowing these guys the way that I do, it’s going to be a GREAT conversation. One that you definitely won’t want to miss.

Since I typically obsess think about things way too deeply before doing these kinds of events, and I have been focused on the concept of stress this past year, I wanted to cover stress as ONE of the ways that a client can become an absolute terror.

High thermometerIn case you missed my last post on dealing with stress (and since it was months ago that I posted it!), let me give you a brief summary. I find that stress is generally…

View original post 692 more words

Building Business Partnerships: a never-ending process.

The inner workings of a business partnership
The inner workings of a business partnership: a machine that needs caring.

Isn’t it great the moment you realize that you have a great working relationship with your client, or your vendor? The moment you can say that you are partners? That you are both gaining from working together? This happens when you realize how well you work together, how well you understand each other, how well you work out the kinks.

No matter how big or how small the business connexion, getting to that level facilitates and optimizes processes, allows all to work efficiently and reach goals faster, be more productive.

Partnerships start with building trust, the foundation of any relationship. With trust we get more efficient, more agile, more responsive. As we build trust, we learn more about each other, we refine our communication, we open up, we anticipate each others needs.

We build up history to get better at what we both do. We define and refine our mutual expectations. Over time we reduce bureaucracy to increase efficiency. We all get stronger and accomplish more.

It’s a two-way street where we learn, adapt, contribute, collaborate, and adapt some more.

We grow together.

Like any relationship, it’s an ongoing thing: it needs to be maintained and nurtured. You cannot loose sight of this.

WARNING: Complacensy is enemy #1! 

In business, people come and go, but the organizations remain. Organizations evolve, and so must partnerships. When a partner’s context changes, others should be able to step up to the plate and do their best to help or adjust, as needed. That is the beauty of partnerships. It might not be easy, even pleasant (which may be a sign that complaisance snuck in…), but the goal is to find a solution together.

Partnerships are not guaranteed. They are continuously evolving. If you don’t want to loose your investment, do what you need to maintain them and don’t let your partnerships break down.

Make sense?