By Billie Bowe
I had the great privilege of speaking at the Bahamas National Junior Achievement Conference held in Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas in February of this year under the topic, entrepreneurship. For me this was a no brainer as I am an entrepreneur and always have been. Yet, true to form, I embarked upon what some might consider extensive research into the topic, just in case something had changed within the last decade. Of course I learned some new things and was reminded of some not so new things. In general however, all I found was more evidence to substantiate what I have known for years; entrepreneurs are the ones who make the world go around. And while not all entrepreneurs “fit” into any strict definition, they do seem to possess one critical attribute, the ability to see a problem and to creatively find a solution.
Needless to say there are many books that have been written on the topic of entrepreneurship. Many principles or theories exist as to what it takes to become an entrepreneur and how to succeed as an entrepreneur. There are even tests, assessments and online tools all intended to determine your “entrepreneurial potential or DNA”. If you feel you are destined to be your own boss, here are some helpful tips to boost your problem solving skills because at the heart of it all, is humankind’s innate instinct to solve problems which gives way to the numerous innovative products and services of our 21st century lives:
Focus on the solution – not the problem. In contradiction to Albert Einstein’s famous quote that if he had an hour to save the world, he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution, I beg to differ. It’s pretty easy to spend endless hours hashing out a problem but it could be energy well wasted in the end. Your time would be better spent focusing on solutions. Obviously the ability to identify the actual problem is crucial. But in the context of entrepreneurship, the most successful entrepreneurs are solutions driven. Problem identification for them is challenging but in a good way. It fuels them, but finding solutions is what really gets them going. To them, there is no such thing as a crazy or farfetched solution to a problem. When we place too much emphasis on the problem, then the problem consumes our thoughts, which sends negative signals to our brains limiting our ability to generate ideas. Don’t limit your ideas by dwelling on the problem more so than the solution. Focus on strengthening those critical thinking skills.
Brainstorm – draw a circle in the middle of a page and write down a problem. Then, draw lines from that circle and write down some solutions. Don’t worry if they’re wacky, impossible, or silly; this is a time for creative thinking, not critical thinking. Capturing the range of ideas is what is important here. When it comes to problem solving, taking a solutions-focused approach will no doubt cause you to begin to open your mind to endless possibilities to solving a problem. Let your mind run wild with solutions, the “what ifs”. The crazier the solution the better because out of all of the solutions you brainstormed, there may be that one viable solution worth exploring.
If you’re thinking this problem is too big, don’t – again, move away from focusing on the problem and labeling it as “too big or complex”. Of course some problems present in varying degrees of complexity but honing the techniques to problem solving through practice, allows for creativity to flourish. There are no limitations to what possible solutions exist. Man wanted to get from point A to point B faster, enter the motorized vehicle. Who would have thought space exploration would ever be possible? Yet we’ve been to the moon and back. Talk about innovation! As an entrepreneur the common phrase, think outside the box, certainly applies. When we categorize problems as too complex we stunt our creative juices from flowing.
The upside down approach – problem-solving is all about applying educated trial and error. With so many different kinds of problems to deal with, there is no system that works in every situation. Many solutions are possible, and some are better than others. One powerful perspective in defining a problem is to look at it from the reverse direction. If you want more of something, figure out what you get less of as a result. Investigate what happens to decrease sales, or to sell fewer products, or to lose more games. If you feel that sending an employee to a conference is too expensive, consider what happens when you do send them. Change your perspective and consider things from angles you had not yet considered, and consider the consequences. What about setting up a bare bones product that does not have all the same elements as the fancy ones people are buying from your competition? The solution to the problem may be lying at the polar opposite side of how you’ve been viewing it! As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Keep it simple – I’ll be the first to admit that on more than one occasion, I have approached a problem by over-complicating things. The computer isn’t turning on. What the heck is wrong? Should I call a technician? Should I get a screwdriver and start taking the thing apart? How about just checking to see if the power cord is plugged in or if the power switch is turned on? Avoid the natural tendency in many of us to over analyze things to death. Keep it simple, general, and stay calm. The best solution may well be the simplest one.
As we reflect on 2015, CICMC has much to be proud of. We exceeded our targeted number of financial members; we had a record numbers of persons being certified; we have created strategic alliances with important partners in the region….. and so much more! All of this would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of all of you, our members. Thank you for helping us to slowly establish Caribbean Management Consultants as a leaders in the services sector in the region.
2016 is going to be an exciting year for the Institute as we bring you new services and products that will help you grow your consultancy. There will also be, undoubtedly, challenges along the way but we feel confident that with your support and enthusiasm we will become bigger and better.
The Christmas season always brings family and friends together; it helps us appreciate the love in our lives we can often take for granted. May the true meaning of the holiday season fill your heart and home with many blessings. For those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, may the New Year bring you new tidings and happiness: “the New Year’s most glorious light is sweet hope!”
I thank each member of the CICMC for spotlighting and celebrating the added value which Caribbean consultants bring to the sustainable development of the region and to the value proposition of our Institute. This celebration was the centre piece of the recently concluded CICMC Conference 2015 that was held in Nassau, the Bahamas in October 2015. We had a record number of participants and we were able to review, contemplate and discuss new ways for Caribbean Management Consultants to forge ahead as industry leaders in the professional services sector.
This year’s theme for the Conference was ‘Partnerships-Performance-Profits: Keys to Business Successes’. As the theme suggests, the CICMC renewed its focus on the forging of partnerships and strategic alliances as a very important value added proposition to our clients, while at the same time increasing opportunities for our Caribbean consultants to leverage their knowledge assets. Conference sessions helped to improve awareness, shape attitudes, and identify strategies to compete in a changing economic environment.
This year also saw a record number of members being certified as CMCs. There were eleven (11) candidates who were certified, nine (9) of whom were from Saint Lucia; the other two (2) candidates were from The Bahamas. This year’s certification cycle was particularly important to the Institute: the new CMCs from Saint Lucia were all sponsored by the Saint Lucia Coalition of Service Industries. This underscores and reflect the importance of further strengthening of strategic alliances between the CICMC and the Coalition of Services in the individual jurisdictions and through the Caribbean Network of coalitions. Secondly, we received much appreciated support from six (6) Canadian CMCs, without whose assistance we would not have been able to complete all of the CMC (certification) oral assessments for the candidates who were pinned in the Bahamas. There is no doubt that this relationship will be further strengthened as the CICMC seeks to become the premier association for Management Consultants in the Caribbean.
The Bahamas Conference has left us even more convinced that CICMC needs to follow a “Big Tent” policy. While there are some members of the Institute who will proceed to become CMCs there are the other professional members who would not wish to become certified. There is room for both types of members, i.e., professional and certified consultants, and we will undertake to ensure that our training and other services are available to all members, to help them build and grow their practices. To this end, we are now looking into designing new training products and establishing an electronic platform for training, so that all members can be exposed to the practices and principles of management consulting and such like.
To initiate the “Big Tent” policy, the Institute signed a MOU with the Arthur Lok jack School of Business (Trinidad). This alliance will provide CICMC the opportunity to work with an academic institution to further one of (primary) aims and objectives of growing the management consulting industry in the Caribbean. We have now initiated discussion with the Cave Hill School of Management studies (Barbados). These discussions are being facilitated by Dr. Betty Jane Punnet who is the 2015 ICMCCI Academic Fellow from CICMC.
The Organogram for the CICMC was presented and ratified at the AGM. This chart is reproduced below.
A work Plan for 2016 was also presented. The comments received during the AGM are presently being incorporated into the Work Plan, the final version of which will be circulated to all members very shortly. The members who were present at the AGM have also requested that a 3 year Strategic Plan be prepared for presentation at the next AGM.
An important event at the AGM was the presentation of the lifetime membership award to Dennis Strong who is the Founding President of the CICMC . Dr. Betty Jane Punnet also received her certificate from the ICMCI as the 2015 Academic Fellow.
The Planning Committees for the 2016 Conference has already been established and have begun working. The CICMC Conference 2016 will be held in Saint Lucia from September 7 to 9 2016. Members will be provided with regular updates of all arrangements. One of the Conference panels next year will be made up of panelists resulting from a Call for Papers.
In addition to planning and preparing for Conference 2016 there is still so much more work to be undertaken. We need all hands on deck to complete this work and I hope that you will share your skills and competencies, as we seek to build the CICMC brand as the most strong and relevant association of consultants in the region.
Thank you, very warm regards and Best Wishes for this Season of Joy and Giving.
Nine (9) Saint Lucian professionals have earned the designation of Certified Management Consultant (CMC). They are Agnes Francis, Dr. Claudius Preville, Geraldine Lendor-Gabriel, Keith Millar, Luvette Louisy, Dr. Stephen Louis, Thecla Deterville, Vimla St. Hill and Wilton Bleasdille. They now join Dr. Vasantha Chase, bringing the number of Certified Management Consultants on the island to ten (10).
The persons who were certified in Saint Lucia was the result of a collaborative effort between the Saint Lucia Coalition of service Industries (SLCSI), the Association of Management Consultants of Saint Lucia (AMCS) and the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC). This milestone of 10 Certified Management Consultants was achieved in the 10th Anniversary year of the AMCS, which was established in 2005.
The Saint Lucia professionals, who have met the stringent eligibility criteria set by the International Council of Management Consultants Institute (ICMCI®), received congratulations for their achievement from CICMC and the newly constituted CICMC OECS Chapter.
CICMC is one of 60 global management consulting institutes which award the Certified Management Consultant™ (CMC®) certification is the international mark of excellence in management consultancy, recognized directly in the countries covered by the 50 Members of ICMCI. Recently adopted by Caricom, the CMC® designation also signifies an adherence to an International Professional Code of Conduct and Ethics.
There are currently less than 9,000 CMCs in the entire world, 26 of whom are CICMC members, with 10 residing in St. Lucia.
CICMC is a professional organisation, comprising regional chapters and individual management consultants drawn from throughout the Caribbean. CICMC’s membership classifications include certified, professional, corporate, associate and student members. With the foundational support of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, and the European Union, CICMC continues to grow its membership base, attracting professionals from diverse disciplines, including, medicine, law, accounting and engineering. As a result, CICMC is the premier network grouping of management consultants in the region, in terms of experience, knowledge base and size. CICMC’s annual regional symposia provide professional and network development opportunities to its members and partners. This includes opportunities to establish strategic partnerships with regional and international counterparts, for improved access to markets and larger engagements.
CICMC invites all interested consultants to learn more about the work of and membership in CICMC by contacting email@example.com.
Donald P. Demeritte and D. Yvette Ingraham have received the prestigious Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation, having recently met the stringent eligibility criteria set by the International Council of Management Consultants Institute (ICMCI). The duo received congratulations for their achievement from the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC) and its Bahamas chapter.
CICMC is one of 60 global management consulting institutes which award the CMC certification as the international mark of excellence in management consultancy, recognized directly in the countries covered by the 50 Members of ICMCI. Recently adopted by CARICOM, the CMC designation also signifies an adherence to an international professional code of conduct and ethics.
There are currently less than 9,000 CMCs in the entire world, 26 of whom are CICMC members, with only four residing in The Bahamas.
Donald Demeritte, principal of EPS Consultants, is a business strategist consultant, who provides management consultancy services throughout the Caribbean. A former international banker, he has extensive experience in the region and internationally, with 18 years of industry experience. Demeritte currently serves as a director of CICMC and the president of The Bahamas (Interim) chapter. Demeritte’s international banking experience included short and long term assignments in Jersey C.I., Isle of Man, London, Gibraltar, and Guernsey. His regional experience encompasses The Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and Trinidad. He is an internationally accredited master trainer for the Caribbean Export Development Agency ProNet SME program, which features modular developmental training in business strategy, export marketing, and cost & financial management.
Yvette Ingraham is the president and owner of 360 Training & Consulting, a corporate training and operations consulting firm. She has over 30 years of experience in the financial services sector where she worked as a senior executive, extensively involved in corporate decision-making, strategic planning, staff development, and training. As a management consultant, she works with clients to improve their business processes and efficiency levels, define and develop strategies, identify and implement business solutions and effectively execute projects. She assists clients in assessing training needs and developing effective training and talent management programs. Ingraham also provides training in a variety of areas including leadership, management, customer service and general insurance. Ingraham is a fellow of the Insurance Institute of Canada and holds an MBA from the University of Miami. She is accredited as a trainer by the Chartered Insurance Institute in London, England and is certified as a John Maxwell team member.
CICMC is a professional organization, comprising regional chapters and individual management consultants drawn from throughout the Caribbean. CICMC’s membership classifications include certified, professional, corporate, associate and student members. With the foundational support of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, and the European Union, CICMC continues to grow its membership base, attracting professionals from diverse disciplines, including, medicine, law, accounting and engineering. As a result, CICMC is the premier network grouping of management consultants in the region, in terms of experience, knowledge base and size. CICMC’s annual regional symposia provide professional and network development opportunities to its members and partners. This includes opportunities to establish strategic partnerships with regional and international counterparts, for improved access to markets and larger engagements.
CICMC invites all interested consultants to learn more about the work of and membership in CICMC by visiting its website: www.caribbeancmc.com or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
An entrepreneur’s strategic guide for Growth and Competitiveness among Micro Enterprises in Jamaica
According to page 20 of the Global Competitive Index (GCI) of 2002, Jamaica “Given Jamaica’s small market, exports must provide the growth needed to achieve development according to the National Industrial Policy. The successful realization of export-led growth requires improved competitiveness, which can be achieved by increasing productivity, although this may imply cost reduction and the use of proper technology.” According to the gospel according to GCI, there are 12 pillars to competitiveness and this writer proposes that instead of seeking solutions to improve competitiveness in developing countries (a.k.a third world states), we adopt and adapt similar competitiveness attributes and framework required for developed nations.
The GCI 2014-2015 diagram above presents a visual outline of the Global Competitiveness Index Framework, and is intended to be an easy interpretation of the solutions to achieve the dream of an effective and efficient “set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country” . The level of productivity, the GCI report continues, in turn, sets the level of prosperity that can be reached by an economy. The productivity level also determines the rates of return obtained by investments in an economy, which in turn are the fundamental drivers of its growth rates. In other words, a more competitive economy is one that is likely to grow faster over time. The concept of competitiveness thus involves static and dynamic components. Although the productivity of a country determines its ability to sustain a high level of income, it is also one of the central determinants of its return on investment, which is one of the key factors explaining an economy’s growth potential.
This is further supported, by the 2014 Jamaica government report that over the past few decades, the country’s real GDP per capita increased at an average of just 1 percent per annum and attributed this to the weak business environment. Light was shed on the issue in June 2014 when the International Development Research Centre in collaboration with the Canada CRDI conducted research which was published under “Fostering Entrepreneurship – A Policy Imperative for Jamaica”. Its key findings include the following:
In my humble opinion based upon my 2 decades’ consulting experience in the Caribbean, Jamaica’s Business support organizations have experimented with wonderful and inspiring projects with great potential. Without external funding—these initiatives died! My proposal to us as a family of proud Jamaicans is that as we celebrate our emancipated freedoms, we push harder and more desperately for economic freedom among ourselves. I agree with the Great Bob Marley “until the basic human rights are met, there will indeed be war and the beauty and uniqueness of Jamaica is that we believe that we have an inalienable right to prosperity. There is absolutely no Jamaican that is of the view that s/he is destined to be in the same economic position that they currently hold.
Here is my road-map my people, whether we have 1 man or 20, 2 products or plenty, we must customize the solution reserved for advanced/ developed economies as per Pillars 11 and 12 in the diagram above. To do so, we will commit to working smarter, not harder and one way is by using investments already made such as those projects and reports of the Private Sector Development Programme of 2009. Whatever we decided we will:
This, I believe is our roadmap to microenterprise growth in Jamaica. There are gaps to be filled, let’s fill them together nuh?
Andrea C Livingston Prince,MBA
Economic Development Consultant- Private Sector
In part one of this two-part piece on creativity and holistic thinking in management consulting, I stated that creativity is a business asset for two key reasons. It enables a more holistic thought process to find better business solutions and it creates a better employee and end-user experience.
Part two will address how creativity in the workplace can lead to better employee and end-user experiences.
Deductive Reasoning and Inductive Reasoning
As management consultants, our job is to hone in on the challenge of an organization, understand it and present recommendations to resolve it. There are two main thought processes that can be employed to accomplish this task: deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is more top-down in its approach, using a theory as the foundation of the thought process whereas inductive reasoning is more open-ended and exploratory, using observations as the foundation for the theory. The process of creative thinking is an inductive one, which can lead to solutions that may otherwise be overlooked. As a consultant, the ability to use both deductive and inductive reasoning can create value for clients.
Starting from the Bottom
For example, consider an organization that provides consumer products or services but recognizes that it must further differentiate itself to remain competitive and relevant.
If one starts with the theory that the products or services need to be of more value to the consumer, this could be based on price or design. Let’s assume that the decision is to design a better product or service. (Great!) What is the next step? Using a more creative approach, to identify how the organization could increase its competitive edge, would start with really observing all aspects of the organization’s operations with an open mind.
In the case of improving the design, it could mean thinking beyond the actual deliverable to get to the heart of the design process – the people. Does the organization have a well-designed workplace? Are employees empowered to control their own spaces and maybe even their day as the work dictates? A 2014 article in the Harvard Business Review provides empirical evidence that workplace design and the ability to control how their space feels influences creativity. Moreover, employee autonomy can in positively impact productivity, motivation and performance.
Creative Thinking Leads to Short and Long-Term Client Solutions
In this example, taking a different tack to find the solution identified a connection between the employee experience and a design-based competitive edge. That is, if employees are in an environment that encourages creativity and are empowered to control their own space and time, then they are more likely to be creative and more productive to boot. The result of this improved employee experience is potentially a better designed consumer experience; not just for the end product or service but also for the customer service that leads to the deliverable.
In the end, the holistic application of the creative thought process of a management consultant can not only lead to short-term gains through better designed deliverables and end-user experiences, but also to long-term gains due to better designed internal processes and employee experiences.
So management consultants, don’t be afraid to bring your creative A-game to your next project.
by Royann Dean
There are a number of leadership practices that can sabotage the productivity of your team. Here is a list of three obstacles to productivity and suggestions to overcome them so you can set the stage for improved morale and results:
1. Ineffective communication channels within a team can lead to duplicated efforts, withheld information, or even incorrect application of instructions. Leaders ought to be held accountable to effective communication and open communication channels. This can be achieved through the creation of a sound communication plan designed to ensure the movement of the right information, at the right time, to the appropriate persons.
2. The acronym KUBA stands for Know, Understand, Believe, and Act. It is conceivable that a manager will assign work to an employee and expect that employee to act on his instructions. In other words, the manager expects employees to move from knowledge of the task to action. When this happens, the manager neglects to ascertain if the employee understands the instructions, and if she buys into what is being asked of her. What these managers don’t understand is a lack of understanding or buy in can lead to unnecessary delays or low trust levels.
3. Although teams with low morale can be highly productive when fear is present, in some instances team members can become demotivated and demonstrate the lack of drive. Low morale can lead to the intentional “stretching” of tasks so an activity that should take an hour can take an entire day. Low morale can also lead to inattention to detail, or errors (especially if employees have become apathetic). Measurement of employee engagement and a deliberate strategy to address trust and other engagement gaps is necessary to turn around morale. Morale is a moving target and the culture is a major contributor to morale so there is no quick fix. It takes planning, flexibility, the willingness to listen and heart.
Low morale can also be caused by differences in personality. Personalities either work together or they repulse each other. When personalities repulse each other, this can affect productivity because people tend to shy away from interacting with difficult co-workers. For instance, Jake is a member of a team and he is the nucleus of a very important project. Jake is typically combative and therefore avoided by most of his coworkers, so the project is taking longer than planned.
As you can see, productivity is not only impacted by your skills with organizing and prioritizing, it can be impacted by your corporate culture or climate. Your ability to effectively manage your intra and interpersonal relationships can positively impact your personal productivity and ultimately, your team’s results.
By Yvette Bethel