Mutterings of a consultant

April 25, 2008

Enterprise 2.0 – even some accountants get it

Filed under: worklife — grantfrear @ 1:23 am
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My peers from Australia are commitment to innovative business ideas.  One such example is the adoption of Enterprise2.0 and Web2.0 in a business that is more frequently associated with conservative accountants.

So going back to the Internal Audit pitch I mentioned in a previous post.  Much to my surprise our proposal included innovative ideas on use of Enterprise2.0 and Web2.0.  Not only was this the last thing that I had expected in a proposal for internal audit but also to my surprise the lead audit partner was articulate, knowedgeable and enthusiastic about Enterprise2.0.  In fact this enthusiasm went as far as the Australian team developing a prototype wiki and blog to demonstrate how we would work with the client in a modern collaborative model.

This clearly demonstrated to me that our team in Australia had fully understood the potential impact and uses of Web2.0 technologies and Enterprise2.0 thinking. Internal audit is at its core a collaborative activity, client and consultant work together to review and provide a degree of challenge to the actions of a management team. What better way to get client and consultant working together than through a Web2.0 platform. A wiki through which reports can actually be developed by a virtual team, online environments to share experiences and to capture knowledge and learning, blog sections to allow the open sharing of knowledge and the discussion of critical issues.

As you can tell I was very impressed by both the thinking and the commitment. A few of my team have approached my about the use of Facebook as a business tool. Clearly I am very supportive and in true Enterprise2.0 style I am not applying any controls or structures onto what they are developing. The power of Enterprise2.0 is that it develops and changes in a way that makes most sense to the participants. I will no doubt put up a post when my team has something to show for their curiosity.

In the meantime if anyone is interested check out Ning and create your own social network.



April 18, 2008

Multi-disciplined teams (again)

Filed under: worklife — grantfrear @ 1:49 am

I know I have written about this before however I had such a great experience recently that it warrants a little more discussion. 

I was recently drafted into a team to present a pitch to a client for internal audit work.  My initial reaction to this was to groan.  Not only was I very busy but internal audit is something that I do not really have a passion for.  If I was to spend my evenings preparing I would rather it be on something that excites me.  Needless to say I got over myself and put as much as I could into the presentation.

The process by which we brainstormed the content was by no means optimal however when we all managed to get together for our rehersals something magic happened.  Not only did we gel as a team but we also started to see the opportunity from each others perspective.  As we talked through the presentation content we all started to develop a more robust understanding of the client’s issues and their vision.  Not one of us had a complete and comprehensive picture until we came together, each with our own experiences, opinions and areas of expertise.

We pitched up on the day for our presentation and suprised even ourselves.  We had passion, insight, perspective, wisdom and showed that we were a tight team and were committed to the client and their vision.  One of our team had a quote (see below) that unfortunately hit the cutting room floor during rehersals.  I thought that it was great so here it is.

“When our views come from a common source we are likely to be surprised together – and with greater magnitude and impact.  Things work best when we are busy forming our own independent views and sharing these with our colleagues”

April 14, 2008

Discovery vs. experienced based processes

Filed under: worklife — grantfrear @ 10:12 am
Tags: , ,

I have for a while been thinking about ‘process centric’ consulting.  This form of consulting is particularly good for solving problems that are unique and advice based.  In this situation the consultants value comes from the fact that they have a process or methodology to solve a particular problem.  This approach has been the bread and butter for consultants for years. 

From time to time a problem appears that requires a different approach.  Most often this is the result of a well known or common problem presenting itself to the client.  In this case the client values the consultants experience.  Where have you done this before?  What solutions should I be evaluating?  These are the questions that indicate that you have stumbled into one of these situations.

Applying a process centric method to these problems can really frustrate a client.  They can percieve this approach as learning on the job, of taking too much time, of being unsure and uncertain. 

It is clearly important to recognise the situation you are in, apply the right approach and make sure that the team you have deployed on the problem is appropriate to the problem itself.

In summary: 

Process based problem solving model looks like this:

  • investigate-interview-analyse-recommendation

Experience based problem solving model looks like this:

  • hypothesis/expectation-current state-gaps-recommendation

April 9, 2008

How strong are your convictions

Filed under: General rambling — grantfrear @ 9:57 am
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It is very easy to say that you stand for something or believe in something. Somewhat harder to demonstrate it.
Having recently sustained an injury as a result of a mountain bike accident I could no longer ride my scooter to work.  While contemplating my injury I also spent some time reconsidering the scooter as an transport option.  Quick, efficient, low environmental footprint it may be but it is also dangerous as they say it is only a matter of time before you are an unwilling participant in a serious accident.

So here I am, about to give up the scooter and being confronted with what next. 

I am quite open in my views on sustainability and have in the past promoted public transport.  The scooter has however provided a way for me to promote my sustainability views while still having the convinience of private transport.  

Are my views for real or are they just for show?  This was the question that I put to myself when I evaluated my choices.  So where have I ended up?  While my current situation ‘forced’ me to take a bus, it transpires that it is not that bad.  In fact it is remarkably efficient.  It has even provided an opportunity for me to clear e-mail in an otherwise jam-packed day.  I have therefore decided that between the bus and cityhop (car pool scheme) my transportation needs are satisfied.  Clearly there will be occasions where timeliness is a priority and when this is so I plan to travel by taxi.

I guess this means that my convictions are reasonably strong.  Time will no doubt test and challenge these convictions however.  In this case time will most certainly tell.

April 2, 2008

Workplace design

Filed under: worklife — grantfrear @ 8:56 am
Tags: , , , ,

We are currently planning to move to a new office.  This is a significant event on a number of fronts.  Not only is it a hugely expensive exercise and requires a huge commitment, it also provides an opportunity to review culture and the role that the workplace/environment plays in recruitment, retention and performance.

The first of many decisions has been made.  When confronted with the decision to move to a part of the city that is in the middle of urban regeneration or a main street location we decided for the safe option, main street it is.  While there is great potential in developing areas of cities the amount of unknowns was simply too much.  In my mind this is just the start.

Tradition 1 – 0 Contemporary

The next frontier is the fitout.  We currently have a very traditional workplace.  It looks somewhat like a filing cabinet for people.  It encourages order, conformity and following tradition.  Much has been written about the role of the environment in creating a culture.  For example innovation seems to thrive in open plan, non-hierarchical environments.  While for a time it seemed the battle in workplace design was Funky vs. Functional.  Now it seems that you can have the best of both worlds, Funky and Functional. 

The following pictures should provide some food for thought.  These are images of the Google offices in Zurich, a city that has a strong brand of tradition.

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