Monthly Archive: October 2012

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

One person can’t move a mountain…..

We’re working with a client that wants to implement a culture of continuous improvement, better engagement, improved communication, cost reductions – the whole gamut of improvement activities that is the core of our business. Yay! Our favourite type of work.

One of the best lessons we’ve learned in our line of business, is that MANY people need to change small habits that they do every day, to contribute to a transformational project like this.

A workplace culture that is risk averse can never embrace a transformational change that is hinged on innovation and brainstorming to arrive at its final goals. (Click to Tweet) The CEO can’t be the only one driving the strategy, and more importantly, the organization has to a) Execute the new changes but also b) develop a culture that supports the change. The challenge is – what comes first the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, what comes first culture or strategy?

How can you make small changes to change your culture to start, so that you can start executing that strategy right away (they often can’t wait)?

I’m late and have no idea why I’m here anyway!

Have you ever been sitting waiting for the other participants in a meeting to arrive, only to have them arrive late, not understand the context of the meeting, and feel like you haven’t gotten anything accomplished?

I’m going to share with you two secret tips that can improve the culture of your business, and they only require small changes from a few key people at the top of the food chain, to make these stick.

Too many people are rushing from back to back meetings. Being on time is a sign of respect for the other participants (and their time) and for the subject matter of the meeting.

  1. Always have an objective for the outcome of the meeting, so everyone understands what the purpose of their attendance is. For example: In today’s managers meeting, make the following final decisions for Project X: final budget and target completion date. Put this in the email request so everyone responding knows why they need to be there. Now you understand why you are there, what decisions are going to be made, and you make sure they are complete by the end of the meeting (because you arrived on time too….).
  2. 10% Late rule – if you are more than 6 minutes late for a 60 minute meeting and there isn’t sufficient quorum to make the decisions (outlined in a above) the meeting is cancelled and rescheduled.

I know it can be tough with back to back meetings, but some proactive timing (i.e. we have five minutes left and have a hard stop at 1pm, so let’s try to nail down the final numbers) and adherence to the rules do wonders.

As a teaser, I have two more secret tips to share with you – 1) The Word BUT is evil and 2) Email: Info & Action please. But you’ll have to wait until next time….. In the meantime – eMail us at or tweet us @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.


Pilot? Do I need a Licence?

Set for Pilot. Roger That.

I was recently at a dinner with a client in the hospitality industry and we were discussing the implementation of (new and improved) changes in his business. I said, “Let’s start with a pilot, and then….”.

Oh oh, the room has gone quiet, and I feel like I’ve suddenly grown five heads and a mouth full of fangs! “A pilot? I’m confused, what does that have to do with what we’re talking about?”, he says. Oops, my bad. I think the word ‘pilot‘ has fallen so deep into my basic vocabulary, that I failed to realize that most people associate it with planes, trains and automobiles.

3, 2, 1, Blastoff!

So what is a pilot then? Simply put, a pilot is a way of testing changes or solutions on a small scale (e.g. resources: time, people, locations, funding, etc).

But why do it? isn’t it better to just implement it and save all the resources spent on a pilot? You can, but there are a lot of good reasons for piloting, and here are my top four:

1. Your Solution is Pricey. Think of it this way. Before you buy the $10M home, you might want to walk through it and make sure it works for you. If you don’t, you might be $10M poor and have a house that’s been built out of recycled tires- it is ‘green’ after all.

2. Your Solution isn’t Easy to Change. This is very true in situations where the solution is a new platform or foundation of some type. For example, your entire business of 100+ employees is using a Microsoft Operating System with its own programs. Changing to an Apple Operating System would require a complete overhaul, and if you weren’t happy with, would be expensive and disruptive to reverse.

3. You Want To Make Sure it Works as You Envisioned It. You wouldn’t want to put a new set of brakes on the market without testing them. Imagine what would happen if they didn’t work the way you designed them? Lawsuits galore!

4. You Want To Ensure You Didn’t Miss Something in the Design. If Rome knew what their expansion downfalls were going to be ahead of time (that is, before it fell), they would have fixed them (Click to Tweet). Big visions and major changes can obscure the little, and unthought of, yet critical, workings of your ideas.

Have you ever done a pilot before? Has it worked? Tell us some of your experiences, we’d love to hear them. Email us at or tweet us @whiteboardcons. using #betterfastercheaper.

Until next week….

Summer School

Summer School

Remember when you were a kid and you went back to school and you talked about what you did on your summer vacation? You went to camp or on a family vacation or you learned to swim. Later you got a job and you maybe went to summer school to get a head start on a class or upgrade your marks.

I never went to summer school. Until this year.

That’s right. At the ripe old age of 29 (ahem) I spent this summer in school. But not the way you think.

Getting “Skooled” (as the kids say) says that getting “skooled” is when someone or something beats you in an embarrassing way, and you are therefore taught a hard lesson and people mock you because you should have known better.

I actually enjoyed learning what I did. It was a real eye-opening time for me, and one that made me even more excited about my newly chosen career. So, I’ll say that this summer I was “schooled”, not “skooled” in the art of being an entrepreneur and growing your business.

You can do all the right things like write a clear business plan, develop a strategic plan, map out a contact and sales strategy, develop an online presence and start networking activities. But all those things that you know from business school and years of corporate experience will never compensate for just getting out there and “doing”. Click to Tweet

Three Things I Didn’t Expect to Learn

Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t know everything. (I can hear my friends and colleagues laughing.) There are things that I expected: bumps in the road, the need for patience and flexibility, getting to know different organizational cultures, and administrative annoyances.

There are also a few things that I didn’t expect, and learning these things this summer will make the next few months SO much easier and more productive:

  1. Partnering is important. I thought that Whiteboard Consulting Group Inc would be out there doing our own thing in our own way with our own clients. I suppose we could, but that wouldn’t be nearly as effective as partnering with other people in a similar business with a unique offering. It opens up many more opportunities for proposals and networking when you have a “virtual partner network” that you can call on.
  2. eMailing (or snail-mailing) a proposal is not ideal. I thought it was great to send everything ahead of time and show how prepared we were. Sadly, I was mistaken. There are times when you have no choice (eg when responding to an online RFP). But whenever you can you should present the proposal in person. Sending it via eMail poses the risk of misunderstanding, missing the point, or the worst – sticker shock. If you have to send something in advance, hold back the pricing and discuss that in person.
  3. It’s ok to ask for a budget. Perhaps it’s my upbringing and Canadian “politeness” factor, but I am very uncomfortable discussing money. I have learned to get over that. If you can discuss a budget, you can’t prepare a proposal that will meet the client’s needs. The trick is to discuss it in such as way that the client doesn’t feel you just want to know the budget ceiling so you can charge that amount. On the contrary – it’s needed so that you can tailor your approach to maximize value to the client.

I’m pretty sure that this business is a constant classroom, and I look forward to when I really do know everything. In the meantime, what are things that you’ve learned in the consulting business? I’d love to hear about them – eMail us at or tweet us @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

Until next time,


Exercising your Brain makes you Zen

Even my brain can be more efficient….

Today’s blog is inspired by a few things that are going on “At the Whiteboard” this week:

  1. We have a new client (dance, dance, dance!) that we are delivering our Whiteboard University Curriculum to. We are working on the change management piece to inspire the staff members to make new habits in their work, that will become routines, and effectively change the culture.
  2. I was recently given a Lumosity subscription. Lumosity is a website with brain games that stimulate the brain dramatically, changing and remodeling itself to become more efficient and effective in processing information, paying attention, remembering, thinking creatively, and solving problems.
  3. I’m reading the most brilliant book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It talks about how once you develop certain habits, it takes your brain less effort to perform them and how the use of habits, routines, cues, and rewards can be invaluable in transforming an organization. It is a fantastic and interesting read, and I highly recommend it.

Now my brain needs a workout too?

These seemingly independent items in my life seemed to collide and beat me over the head with the same message.

Make processes a routine or habit, making your brain more efficient and ready to perform more value added tasks (Click to Tweet).

It’s so easy to be overwhelmed with large changes in our lives – both those active changes that we ourselves decide to commence (moving, getting married, having children), and the passive ones that are imposed on us (office reorganization, new legislation, new political environment). Do you ever feel that everything is happening at once? Too many changes? Are the changes overwhelming and it seems that you’ll never be in a normal state again?

See how these 3 tips can help you make effective change, add brain value, and just be BETTER! (You know our tagline by now… Better. Faster. Cheaper)

Exercising your Brain makes you ZEN!

  1. When implementing large scale organizational (or family or personal changes) think about changing small key habits of every person involved. Its the consummation of all those small new routines and habits that make a change work large scale!
  2. Exercise your brain and improve your memory, response time, and problem solving skills and make your brain more efficient. When change or unexpected things happen, you’ll be ready to adapt better and have less stress. For example, I’m terrible at doing simple arithmetic fast in my head. And its stressful when I make an error calculating a tip or estimating a percentage. So I practice my arithmetic skills on Lumosity. Once I’ve exercised my brain to respond better and more accurately, I can do this without the stress of failure and focus my brain effort on other more important things!
  3. Make things that can be a chore or something you talk yourself out of, habits and routines in your life (i.e. eating well, working out, reading the paper every day). Once they become a habit, its way less effort to have the internal dialogue in your brain, and allows you to focus your efforts on the complex work or life issues that really add VALUE.

Tell us what habits, routine, change, and exercising your brain mean in your day-to-day activities, we’d love to hear them. Email us at or tweet us @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

Until next week….