Tuesday, May 2, 2017
An article by Jake Fox of Whitecap Consulting.
From filling a short term staffing gap to strategy re-focus to the implementation of a major programme of organisational structural change, consultants can provide valuable expertise and insights to help companies achieve their goals and execute a strategy.
But when is the right time to hire a consultant, how do you choose a good consultant, and what on-going steps should you take to ensure you get the best out of a client consultant relationship?
External validation: Consultants will have a broad overview, understanding, and external perspective. A second opinion can provide reassurance prior to making a key business decision.
More time and cost effective: A consultant can be tasked to focus on a specific project and see it through on deadline, without distractions and day-to-day pressures. This often makes bringing in a consultant much more time and cost effective than running a project in-house.
Specific knowledge, skills and experience: Consultants give business leaders the opportunity to bring in niche skills on a “pay as you go” basis, without the commitment of employing someone.
Ability to challenge: Their objective position means consultants can bring a fresh perspective. A good consultant should not be afraid to challenge, and their unique position means they can do so without the fear of reprisals that employees might have.
Impartial advice: Hiring consultants can offer business leaders a way to reach or justify a desired conclusion and avoid internal conflict. This can be particularly valuable in difficult situations such as job cuts and major operational or strategic changes.
Knowledge of best practice: Consultants are working with multiple clients in the same sector and often serving various clients facing similar problems across different sectors.
Access to information and resources: Consultants that specialise in niche areas or particular business functions are able to bring in data and systems that may not be financially viable for their client companies.
Overall, consultants bring a wealth of strengths to your business and can deliver a wide range of services. So, if you’re seeking a solution to a particular business problem, undergoing organisational change or can see new market opportunities but lack the resources to follow them up, a consultant may be the answer you need.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Lately, I’ve been doing quite a lot of personal counseling sessions with a few mentees and friends going through one form of personal problem or the other, ranging from job losses, financial issues to problems with their spouses and/or children. Most are not at a good place emotionally, spiritually and physically too as some of the issues are beginning to affect their health. As usual I get so emotionally invested in some of these friends and I spend long hours talking, discussing, listening to both spoken and unspoken words just to understand how and where to give help or give counsel.
As I sat thinking through some of the issues this evening, I began flipping through several online platforms I normally visit to read up on current issues and trends and I stumbled on a video of an interview that Dave Chappelle had given with Gayle King a few days ago. In that part of the interview, he tried to explain why he had to step away from the spotlight and he used an analogy of a nature show he watched. It was about “how a bushman finds water when it is scarce.” Chappelle relays the episode: “They do what they call a salt dance. I didn’t know this but apparently, baboons love salt.” Chappelle goes on to talk about how they (the bushmen) put a lump of salt in a hole and wait for the baboon. When the baboon comes, and sticks his hand in the hole and grabs the salt, the salt makes his hand bigger and he’s trapped. He can’t get his hand out. Chappelle says, ‘If he’s smart, he’d just let go of the salt.” But he’s not. The bushman comes, grabs the baboon and puts him in a cage and gives him all the salt he wants. When the baboon gets thirsty, the bushman lets the baboon out and follows him to water. In that analogy, Chappelle says, “I felt like the baboon.” He however said something else: “but I was smarter, I let go of the salt.”
I listened to that part of the video twice and something just went off in my head. Boom!!! That is it! I began to read more on baboons and salt and I just could not stop shaking my head.
Let me share what went off in my head. So many people are stuck with their hands in a water hole, just like the baboon, because they won’t let go of the salt. They become slaves to the bushman because of the salt. They sell their worth and life because of the salt. They give up their conscience for a block of salt. They lie, cheat, defraud, defame, slander, kill, steal and destroy because of the salt.
Salt is meant to give food flavour but over-salted food cannot be eaten. In the human body, excess salt is a killer. As sodium accumulates, the body holds onto water to dilute the sodium. This increases both the amount of fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels. Over time, the extra work and pressure can stiffen blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It can also lead to heart failure. There is also some evidence that too much salt can damage the heart, aorta, and kidneys without increasing blood pressure, and that it may be bad for bones, too.
Let me tell you something. The baboon will give an arm and a leg for a block of salt. They will fight viciously to hold on to that salt in their hands, inside a hole. The baboon’s obsession with salt is just like the human obsession with ‘salty’ pleasures – wealth, fame, men, women, status, Instagram and Facebook likes and validations, the ‘my home is better than yours’ foolishness, the number of clothes and shoes I have, the school my children attend – and such and such.
Yes, just like salt, these pleasures seem to add zest and spice to life but as with all earthly pleasures, when not curbed, comes with their attendant bitterness and brokenness. Like the baboon, we are attracted to those things that will take our life, our freedom, our common sense, our humanity and we risk it all to be enslaved and ultimately lead to our destruction. All the baboon needed to do was to release the salt, let it go and then it can remove its hand but nah!
I reasoned here and then, that most of the problems we have are personally inflicted when we begin to live lives that are full of lies because we want to present a particular image to people who don’t even know us, or even bother about us. The salt is a representation of burdens. Unnecessary burdens we put on ourselves. Financial burdens, emotional burdens, success burdens, marriage burdens, family burdens, people burdens, etc. We all have them or have had them or will have them. Burdens have a way of stressing us out and not allowing us to see the bigger picture. We sometimes see the end of the foolishness we are indulged in but we refuse to let go. The baboon saw the bushman who set the trap for it, coming towards it and still refused to let the salt go.
For others, the burdens can be other things – guilt, shame, self-worth, failure, etc. I know this personally but you will only become enslaved if you refuse to remove your hand from the hole by letting go. These are just excess luggage and as with every excess luggage, you pay for it and sometimes, heavily too.
I won’t say the baboon represents us humans, but I will say as humans we need to let our burdens go; especially when we see the effects it is having on our lives – becoming emotional wrecks, health – inexplicable health concerns, finances – trying to keep up with the Joneses; the effect on our marital life and homes – living unhappily yet presenting a happy image; on our children – bringing up badly behave, untrained, unmannered and ungodly offspring.
We need to let go of the salt. Let go of those salty obsessions. Let go! Let go!
Just let go.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Last week ended on a very sad note for me. We lost one of our support staff, Tope. She was knocked down by a hit and run driver on her way to work on Friday morning.
I recall getting to the office and as usual calling her across the office for my coffee instead of using the intercom. When she didn't respond, I called the Admin Manager and she mentioned she's not been seen that morning and her phone went unanswered. I was a bit upset because my desk hadn't been cleaned as well and I wondered why she was so late to work.
I told her to try again and alas, we got the news. She had been rushed to Luth Emergency & Accidents Centre by a LASTMA official. I left the office with my Admin. Manager and we rushed to the hospital. We met with family members and did all we could so she could get attention.
Sadly, Tope passed on early hours of Saturday.
I was very stoic when I saw her lying helplessly with the oxygen mask on her face. I took on my Pastor garb and went into prayers immediately. I left there calm in my spirit that all was well. I got home and spent that night praying till about 4am. I had so much peace. I guess I didn't understand what it was.
When I wake up to the news on Saturday morning, I went on my knees and I so wanted to cry but I couldn't. I just kept hearing myself say - 'Thank you Lord. In all things we give thanks, Thank you Lord.'
I got up from there and faced the day. Followed up with the family and even went to the market just to take my mind off the issue.
Sunday night and I wept like a broken soul. Add the news of the medical doctor who was returning to church and asked his driver to stop the car and he jumped over the bridge. I wept some more. All I kept thinking of was how brief life is. How short. How fleeting. Here today, gone tomorrow.
I thought of Tope's little daughter. I thought of what are thoughts were that morning. She had been with us for 5 years. I thought of the number of times she had come to my office to share her personal issues with me and how we were able to resolve some and oh, I wept so hard. I thought of the Doctor too. I don't know him but I wondered - did someone in church say something mean to him? did they joke with something painful without knowing? What was he going through that could warrant his throwing all to the wind? I wept until I had no strength in me and then I slept off on the floor. My husband was kind enough to let me grief.
I walked into the office this morning and my Assistant had made sure my coffee was ready so I won't notice but I did. And the pain was fresh again. I've made peace knowing fully well that the office was a place she looked forward to coming to. She was happy with us here.
Everyday, something is happening around us. Let's take time to notice people. The cleaner in your office or your housekeeper or your nanny. DO you REALLY see them? The gateman. The security officer. Your doctor. The lady across your desk. Even the person you don't know across the street. Can we just be kind? It doesn't take anything to be kind. Look at the people around you, say something nice and genuine to them. Encourage, say a kind word.
Life is short. Very short.
Tope, rest well.
Trust you are all doing well.
Lately, I've been thinking about leadership issues and its attendant effect on those we lead. In particular is the leadership of our nation Nigeria.
Looking through my notes from years back, I found this post from Victor Oladokun in 2013 following the resignation of Pope Benedict's resignation from the Papal. I read through it again and thought to share, as they hold true even this day.
Do read and let's share our thoughts.
7 Leadership Lessons from Pope Benedict's Resignation in 2013.
1. KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT: There comes a time when every leader has to look him or herself in the mirror and say, “Its time to move on.” There is no indignity to this. Just a recognition that (a) they have fulfilled their roles in the season of time they have occupied their respective positions of influence and (b) it is time to pass the baton on to a new generation that can run with the vision with a new sense of purpose and vigor.
2. MISSION VERSUS POSITION: In our post-modern world, too many leaders are so wrapped up in their positions and titles, that they will do everything and anything possible to stay on their lofty perches, while ensuring that every pretender to the ‘throne’ is prevented or dissuaded from even thinking about it. In essence their positions have become idols. However, Pope Benedict realizes that the position he is relinquishing is temporal and that the larger universal mission of the Catholic Church is a whole lot bigger than himself. If his physical body is going to be a detriment to his spiritual responsibilities, then something had to give. In this case, it was going to be his position, and not the mission of the Church.
3. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: Humble leaders always recognize it is not about them, but rather, the larger organization and constituencies that they serve. While there is precedence for a Pope resigning from office, lets keep in mind that this was almost a thousand years ago! As a leading theologian and historian, Pope Benedict must have been aware of the ground shaking reverberations that would accompany his announcement. But at the end of the day, it all came down to – “Its not about me.”
4. THE INSTITUTION OR ORGANIZATION YOU LEAD IS GREATER THAN YOU. It will continue long after you have left the scene. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh. Have fun.
5. GO WITH YOUR GUT INSTINCT. Some call it an intuitive sense, a sixth sense, your inner spirit, or a strong impression. We’ve all had experiences when we’ve had to rely on nothing but our gut instinct in the face of great odds. Truth is, leaders lead. While consensus is beneficial, when the chips are down, great leaders lead by instinct and not necessarily by what popular opinion dictates.
6. KEEP IT CLOSE TO THE CHEST. Talk is cheap. Many times great ideas are aborted simply because they were announced too soon. Many times, leaders deeply ponder issues and take their own counsel. This was one of those instances. A weighty issue of this magnitude is not something the Pope could have allowed to leak through ‘trusted’ aides. When the time was right, he did it his way.
7. STAND FOR SOMETHING. It’s called Integrity…the currency of leadership. Without integrity, leaders cannot lead. We live in a vacuous world of politicians who increasingly stand for everything, and therefore nothing. Today, leaders of thought and faith are constantly under pressure to compromise convictions and values … many times, simply to appease a marginal few. In 2005, when the conclave elected Cardinal Ratzinger to fill the enormous spiritual shoes of Pope John Paul II, many critics of the church assumed the new Pope would soften his stance on a number of foundational moral issues. Those expectations were never met, up to the very end. In a 2010 interview, the Pope hinted that he could potentially step down if he felt he ever felt he was unable to fulfill the responsibilities of his office. He did.