Preparing for change

preparing for changeAs the year closes, many people are talking about change. Not just the normal “new year resolutions” that tend to be a review of what remains from last year’s promises but changes that are being imposed. In Barbados, there is a growing group of persons who fall into this category. Beyond those in the public service who are on notice of job reductions, there is the ripple effect that occurs when money stops circulating. Continue reading

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The ultimate marketing strategy

barbadosIt’s that season again. The time when the air is filled with discussions related to tourism. These include the concessions granted to Sandals, the partial reopening of Almond Resort, projections on the trend in visitor arrivals, the likelihood of the Four Seasons revival and how our tourism marketing approach needs to change.

I am particularly intrigued by the Continue reading

The Barbados Brand

Barbados brandI regularly participate in online discussions.  I prefer these to call-in programmes for the introduction of ideas and issues for fruitful discourse. I have decided to contextually integrate some of the issues that fit this column.

Senator John Watson has a Facebook group called FB Senate that I find informative and stimulating. I commend Senator Watson for this approach to public dialogue and consultation. This article flows from a suggestion that we should be working toward establishing a “made in Barbados” identity as a preference among Barbadian consumers and in the global market. Branding is a hot marketing buzzword that in many instances, is heavily skewed to a product orientation. Continue reading

Hidden Treasure

MC900439588Next week in Trinidad, the Caribbean Export 5th Annual Management Consulting Business Symposium will convene. The Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC) will have members from around the region in attendance. This event represents an important milestone in the process of transforming the region’s economic development model to embrace the realities of global trade in services.

According to the agenda: “Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) continues to identify the professional services – in particular the management consulting industry – as a priority niche sector for support interventions.”

This recognition of management consulting as a “priority industry” represents a breakthrough that if utilized, can be valuable in addressing the economic woes of the region. In May 2007, the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) made a presentation to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, titled: “Improving outcomes from Development Funding by using Indigenous Management Consultants”.

Key points were:

  1.  Using competent indigenous management consultants would improve the efficacy, effectiveness and efficiency of development funded projects, and through these and related involvements increase the capability and capacity the economy of the developing country.
  2.  ICMCI’s core competence is in establishing and running national professional bodies for management consultants, and it is the NGO Mission of ICMCI to build national Institutes of Management Consultancy in Developing countries.  This mission is in direct support of indigenous management consultants.
  3. Management consultancy is a process that occurs with the client. The consultants need underlying skill but must be competent in the use of the process and to have demonstrated to a client’s satisfaction, that the proper behavior and due process is regularly employed.  Only then can the management consultant claim to be competent.

CICMC was established in January 2007 and by November of the same year, managed to obtain Provisional Membership in ICMCI. This required a waiver of the rule specifying that only single countries could become members. It was important to establish a regional body because studies (also published in 2007) conducted by Caribbean Export and the Commonwealth Commission concluded that management consulting in the region was too fragmented too generate to worthwhile foreign exchange.

In truth, there was no vehicle to promote collaboration among regional management consultants. Further, the public, service providers and procurers had no recognized criteria for assessing management consulting competence. The follow-on is that it was also impossible to recognize the value and importance to the development of our region.

As the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARICOM and the European Union came in effect, 93% of every dollar spent on consulting services in the region, left the region in the pockets of non-regional consultants.

If you want to get an idea of the enormity of this statistic, consider the fact that management consulting industry earns a trillion dollars per year. Aside from the benefits that can flow from having “indigenous” management consultants increase the value of regional development projects, it is then possible to generate valuable foreign exchange through the export of these services to the rest of the world.

In 2010, CICMC became a Full Member of ICMCI and the only organization in the Caribbean authorized to certify management consultants with CMC (Certified Management Consultant) designation that is recognized in 50 ICMCI countries. I wish to congratulate CICMC and Caribbean Export for their persistent efforts toward developing this hidden treasure. MM900395784

God bless.

Team Barbados

Basketball shotLately, I have been immersed in the playoff games in the National Basketball Association (NBA).  Of the thirty teams who began the season, all but eight have been eliminated. With each ensuing level, the competition becomes fiercer and those with elite skills must also bring stamina, focus and a tenacity of purpose. 

Only a few of the teams in the league had a realistic chance to compete for the championship so they occupied themselves with trying to build gradually toward a higher level of competitiveness. Continue reading

How are we using our freedom?

By Dennis Strong, CMC

Most Caribbean nations celebrate August 1st as a national holiday commemorating the Slave Abolition Act 1833 that came into effect on August 1, 1834. Emancipation of African slaves took place in the United States 31 years later near the culmination of a horrendous Civil War.

Now seems a good time to ask the question; how are we using that freedom today?

There are many angles to this question. I think that in this time of economic hardship, it might be useful to examine what actually changed with emancipation. Further, how do the things we think and do today reflect a conscious appreciation of our improved state?

Continue reading

Can you spare some change?

By Dennis Strong, CMC

It hit like a bombshell, when Barbados’ Central Bank Governor announced that a $450 million reduction in expenditures is needed immediately. These cuts are necessary to offset the declining international foreign exchange reserves.

These declines so threaten the exchange rate, that it could cause the devaluation of Barbados’ currency. An anchored exchange rate provides benefits that have long been taken for granted. According to the Central Bank, it protects the real value of national savings, provides a currency stability that acts as an incentive for investment and provides evidence of Government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation.loose change

Suddenly, persons who would have thought of themselves as protected by ensconced positions, perks and pensions, recognize they are now vulnerable. Traditionally, in Barbados, there have been persons who can “make a call” to a well-placed crony to obtain fast action or forestall discomfort; they can no longer do so, as people “break for themselves”.

Continue reading

What’s the Value Proposition?

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The concept of value propositions seems omnipresent in many conversations these days. It comes up when people are asking how they will get value for money spent. It comes for vendors of products and services as they try to make pricing decisions. It comes up when trying to make realistic projections about how to deploy scarce resources.

In this technological age, we are bombarded with offers of products and services, requests for sponsorships and enticements to participate in organizations and movements. Each of these is seeking some measure of our time, talent and treasure (money). Continue reading

What is the Real Score?

Election campaigns are now in full swing with lots of “noise at the barricades”. As I try to sort through manifestos, promises and boasts, I am left with the question: What’s the real score”? In the midst of all this party tribalism and the litanies of historic grievances; it’s like trying to watch a sporting event that has no scoreboard.

MM900395774The politically intense will reply with references to “voter swing”, at risk constituencies and a tally of political gaffes by their opponents. We mustn’t forget the economic statistics and claims of what has been done, should have been done and why it wasn’t possible. It seems like an athlete that’s involved in a competition but more preoccupied with making personal points or playing to the crowd. That is a sure formula for defeat.

From where I sit, both major parties seem to have gaining power as their objective and are using fragmented “solutions” without the context of a confirmed diagnosis. For example, education is an area that is sure to evoke deep emotional reactions. After all, we are renowned for our high literacy rate and it is a cornerstone of national development. However, the circumstances that existed when Errol Barrow made education universally available have changed drastically and we are struggling to put “lipstick on a pig” that needs major restructuring. Is it possible that the countless dispirited people unable to support themselves and increasing lawless behaviour are like the umpire’s finger going up in a cricket match?

Our vaunted social partnership seems to only emerge in episodes of crisis and make a calming return to the status quo of contentious industrial relations with government as a referee. Heck, university graduates with advanced degrees feel as aggrieved as the average wage-earner. Too often, they insist that they are entitled to pay far more than the actual value of the work they produce and employers are then saddled with labour costs that strangle their businesses.

MM900236244These are just two examples that are eating at the core of Barbados’ development as a nation. The ponderous inefficiency of government services and questions around ethical and respectful behaviour warrant mention as well. Alas, I have word limit so I will take this up further in other articles.

There should be no gloating by either party because both are culpable. Barbados’ political stability rests on the fact that regardless of who is in power, things remain essentially the same. It seems that this “stability” is an over-played strengthen and we are in danger of becoming a one-trick pony.

I am very aware that these are politically sensitive areas. They are the veritable “sacred cows” of Barbados society. It is said that: “Sacred cows make the best hamburger”. No disrespect intended to Hindus.

There has been much talk during this campaign about leadership. I submit that effective leaders must answer two questions constantly: What are we working on? (Vision) and How are we doing? (Performance). We live in a democracy but democratic management is a failed concept.

Our leaders may want to consider a modified version of a “balanced scorecard” that covers and aligns the breadth of key functional areas. They can then report against measurable targets at agreed milestones. Maybe then, we will be able to follow and participate in the game.

God bless.

Prepared for the February 18, 2013 “Strong Suit” column in the Barbados Business Authority.

Dennis Strong can be reached at supremeservices@caribsurf.com