Category: MacIsaac Consulting (Page 1 of 2)

Wishing You And Your Family a Happy And Safe New Year!

empower teams

Dear friends,

Thank you for helping to make 2017 a great year!  As I reflect back  I am reminded by how much I have to be grateful for. At the top of my list of gratitude is a healthy family and good friends. I hope that this past year has treated you well also. Here’s to wishing you and your family a happy and safe new year and a prosperous 2018!

–  Mike MacIsaac

About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the president and principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an IT Project and Program Manager as well as an Agile Scrum Master. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMacIsaac or subscribe to Mike’s blog.

Trust, Commitment, Results

At MacIsaac Consulting, our modo is Trust, Commitment, Results.

Trust – You can trust that our number one priority is delivering value for our clients. We pride ourselves on our integrity and authenticity. When you work with us, rest assured you will have a partner you can trust.

Commitment – When we partner with you, we commit to giving it our all. We give 110% on every client engagement. We will always give you our best!

Results – We are not satisfied until our clients get results. We’re in the business of providing value and at the end of the day we haven’t provided results, then we haven’t done our job. Our #1 commitment is to provide results.

For more of an introduction to MacIsaac Consulting, check out my video post below.

About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the president and principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an IT Project and Program Manager as well as an Agile Scrum Master. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMacIsaac or subscribe to Mike’s blog.

 

 

5 reasons why I started a consulting business

Consulting business

In 2015 I made a decision that would change my life. I decided to start my own consulting business. For years I worked in IT as an employee of various companies, including a large consulting firm. I always wanted to go out on my own, but I was afraid. I was afraid of losing “job security”.

The risk of taking the leap and then not being able to pay the bills was real, and it still is. After time, I concluded the risk was greater if I didn’t go out on my own. I figured the worst that could happen is it doesn’t work out and go back to being an employee.

Once my mind was set, I read all the books I could about starting a consulting business. When I drove to work, I listened to audio books by consulting gurus like Alan Weiss and Peter Block. I also studied content marketing. I learned about the power of social media and blogging.

Being a project manager, I treated starting my own consulting business as I would any project. I created a plan with tasks, costs, milestones and dependencies.

Little by little I began to complete the tasks in my plan. From naming my business and creating a website, to forming a corporation, I did it all. I did it in my spare time while still working as an employee.

I also reached out to everyone I knew who could give me advice. I have a great network of friends in business and their guidance was invaluable. Each time I met with someone for coffee, another piece of a puzzle came together. I always left the conversation with notes and more contacts to reach out to. I still meet people, some who I meet through blogging or LinkedIn, for coffee all the time.

It’s been a little over a year now that I’ve been working for my own consulting business and I’m so glad I did it.

Here are the 5 reasons why I started my own consulting business:

1 – There’s tremendous opportunity– Times have changed. Gone are the days when you would get a job right out of college and stay with the company until retirement. The advance of technology and globalization has changed the workforce landscape. Today it’s quite common for people to change companies around every 3 years. Opportunity surrounds us, and employees are smart enough to take advantage of it. People won’t stick around if they’re unfulfilled in their current job.

In consulting, especially IT consulting, there is no shortage of work. Technology is no longer this separate area of companies where geeks work in a silo. Business and technology skills are necessities of everyone today. There are IT projects galore!

If you have trouble finding direct client work, do not fear. There’s plenty of opportunity to work in a sub-contract Corp to Corp setup. If you land direct client business, you can bring on sub-contractors yourself. The opportunities are exciting!

2 – The pay is good– Consultants get paid well. They provide value by offering expertise that companies don’t have in house. If companies had the talent, they wouldn’t need a consultant. Companies will gladly pay top dollar if you can solve their problem.

If you work as an employee for a large consulting firm, you typically receive a small amount of your client billing rate. Large consulting companies rely on what’s called leverage to increase their bottom line.

Leverage enables consulting firms to make big margins off junior consultants. The money then flows up to the partners. Large consultancies actually depend on junior level consultants leaving the firm. This is necessary so a fresh crop of junior consultants can come in to continue the leverage.

To understand the business model of consulting companies, read “managing the professional service firm” by David Maister. If you’re committed to staying with a large firm, get ready for a game of thrones like culture to move up the ladder. You are competing with thousands of top notch consultants like yourself.

3 – The barrier to entry is low– Unlike most startups, you don’t need a lot of dough to start a consulting business. Aside from legal setup, getting a website and some other expenses, it’s easy to get up and running. Using the power of your network, blogging and social media, you can get the word out at no cost.

4 – I love being my own boss – Not reporting to a manager is a beautiful thing. So is forgetting about performance reviews, arbitrary goals, and administrative BS. I show up, do a good job, and get paid, that’s it! Also if I want to take some time off between contracts, I can do that. I’m my own boss.

5 – I don’t want regrets – This is the biggest reason I started a consulting business. I never want to look back one day and say, I wish I tried. I can accept trying and failing, but I can’t accept is not having enough courage to try.

Summary – If you are debating going out on your own, go for it. Put in the time to learn what it takes, and continue sharpening your skills. Once you make the leap, start blogging and using social media to get the word out there. It’s fun! Remember, we only live once. Don’t look back some day with regrets!

For me, I don’t know what the future has in store, but I know it’s going to be a wild ride. I have a feeling this journey has just begun.

About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the owner and principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an IT Project and Program Manager as well as an Agile Scrum Master. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMacIsaac or subscribe to Mike’s blog.

 

How to improve organizational health

Organizational Health

organizational health

Organizational health often gets neglected. Too many companies suffer from too much politics, mass confusion, low morale and high turnover. Leaders make the mistake of focusing only on aspects they can measure. These tend to be in the areas of finance, marketing and technology. They forget to look inward to understand the health of the company. They don’t ask the important question, do people enjoy working here?

Business management author Patrick Lencioni addresses this problem in his book “The Advantage”. He emphasizes that companies need to be both smart and healthy. Lencioni states that healthy companies have minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, and low turnover (Lencioni, 2012).

Organizations need to be fit for the future but also fit for human beings. The 20th century style of management is no longer enough for today’s organizations. Today, organizations need to be adaptive, innovative and inspiring. They need to keep up with the unprecedented changes that are happening in the world (Hamel, 2011).

This post will describe the four disciplines Lencioni outlines for organizational health.

Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

A cohesive leadership team is the foundation for a healthy organization. To do this, teams must 1) Build trust, 2) Master Conflict, 3) Achieve Commitment, 4) Embrace Accountability, and 5) Focus on Results.

Create Clarity

Creating Clarity is about achieving alignment. Leadership teams do this by answering the following six questions: Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed? What is most important, right now? Who must do what? (Lencioni, 2012)

Over communicate Clarity

Under communication is a common problem in organizations. Once you are clear on the mission and goals, bombard the company with communication. This can happen through regular emails, town hauls, symbols..etc. Get creative with communication but make sure it happens often. Everyone in the organization needs to be in alignment.

Reinforce Clarity

After creating and over communicating clarity, don’t let it fade.  “The way to do that is to make sure that every human system-every process that involves people-from hiring and people management to training and compensation , is designed to reinforce the answers to those questions” (Lencioni, 2012).

Summary

Organizations need to be healthy if they want to be successful. People are the most valuable assets within organizations.  This means that leadership teams need to take the time to work on the four disciplines outlined by Patrick Lencioni.

For more content like this, subscribe to the MacIsaac Consulting Blog.

To contact us about our services, click here.

References

Lencioni, P. (2012) The Advantage, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Hamel, G. (2011). Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment. Retrieved from managementexchange.com

5 reasons you need a mentor to improve your leadership

mentorship

Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting out in your career, having a good mentor can provide enormous benefits. Particularly  with improving your leadership capabilities, mentors can help guide you along your journey. Below are 5 reasons you need a mentor to improve your leadership:

  1. They provide a clearer picture of reality – We often have difficulty seeing a clear picture of reality. When we speak to a mentor, they help us bring things into focus. Our natural tendency is to think the world is out to get us. A good mentor can help put things in perspective. This is crucial when you need to make a big decision.
  2. They have the experience -What’s more helpful than someone telling you how they think you should solve your problem? Someone who actually faced the same problem as you, and found a solution. Why not take advantage of your mentors experience and learn from that? Whenever faced with a difficult challenge where you need to make a decision, run it by a trusted mentor. Chances are, they’ve gone through something similar.
  3. They give it to you straight – A good mentor will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. It’s important not to surround ourselves with people who will only tell us what we want to hear. You need to hear the truth, even if it’s painful. Having a mentor who will give it to you straight will also help instill humility.
  4. They keep your ego in check – The enemy of good leadership is your pride and ego. As you become more successful in your career, you’ll want to start taking more credit. A good mentor will keep your ego in check by reminding you that leadership is about the success of others.
  5. They help you see through a different lens – Sometimes when dealing with a problem, we need to take a step back. When doing this, a mentor can help you think about things differently. Particularly if you spend a lot of time on an issue, a mentor can provide an outside the box idea.

If you don’t have one, I suggest asking someone to be your mentor. You can reach out to someone you admire and ask if they would be willing to meet for coffee. I’ve done this several times and to my pleasant surprise, I’ve always had a good response. I meet with my mentor, usually at Starbucks, almost weekly. Aside from receiving helpful advice, what’s better than getting caffeinated and discussing leadership?

For more content like this, subscribe to the MacIsaac Consulting Blog.

To contact us about our services, click here.

Shareholders – Excellent reasons why they shouldn’t come first

shareholders

Shareholders, should they always come first? Often you will hear that the main goal for business is to increase shareholder value. Should increasing shareholder value really be the primary goal of business? What about providing a quality product or service? What about adding value to the world?

Increasing shareholder value is important, but I think we sometimes lose focus of the big picture. We put the cart before the horse. When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were creating Apple in a garage, I doubt stock price was on their mind. Their vision was to create technology that changed the world.

Dr Edwards Deming believed that too much focus on short-term gains and stock price is harmful. He argued that quality, a definite purpose, and pride of workmanship should be top priorities.

By focusing on quality and a long-term strategy, shareholder value will increase. But there are no short cuts. Short term investors or hedge funds looking to make a quick profit should not be a priority. In fact they may be harmful. Great companies are in business to improve quality of life.

If your leadership is only focused on short-term gains, you may be in for trouble down the line. What’s your long-term strategy? Is quality a top priority? What is the mission of your organization? Why are you in business? If you’re unclear, mission, vision and strategy should be a priority.

For more content like this, subscribe to the MacIsaac Consulting Blog.

To contact us about our services, click here.

Diversity and inclusion – Lessons learned from the Irish potato famine

It is crucial for companies to understand the benefits of diversity and inclusion. In recent decades most large corporations have made significant efforts to install diversity training.  Unfortunately, many business leaders still don’t grasp the importance of diversity. This leads to discrimination and also hurts the success of their business.

unity_amidst_diversity_by_eddypua

Diversity and inclusion

Inclusion makes businesses better. How? It creates a dynamic environment where every employee can leave a unique imprint. We need people with different views, perspectives and backgrounds. This leads to improved product and service.

Diversity means having respect for the differences in ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, and age. It means embracing and valuing different styles and mindsets.

“Workforce diversity means a workforce made up of people with different human qualities or who belong to various cultural groups. From the perspective of individuals, diversity refers to all the ways in which people differ, including dimensions such as age, race, marital status, physical ability, income level and lifestyle.” (Daft, 2011 p.332)

Diversity and inclusion are good for business. As an example, take the historical lesson of the Irish Potato Famine of the mid 1800s. In the early 1800s almost half of the Irish population lived off potatoes alone. They had failed to diversify in their crops and in 1845 all the potatoes had rotted. This caused approximately 1 million people to die.  The Irish Potato famine is a great lesson on the importance of diversity.

Inclusion and diversity is not just an HR initiative. Business leaders need to build a culture of diverse people, products, and strategies.

For more content like this, subscribe to the MacIsaac Consulting Blog.

To contact us about our services, click here.

The importance of corporate social responsibility

o-CORPORATE-SOCIAL-RESPONSIBILITY-facebook

In today’s competitive global market, organizations need to have a long-term strategy and vision. It’s also important for companies to have a positive impact on the lives of people, while also having environmental concerns. This leaves leadership with two goals – grow the bottom line, and maintain corporate social responsibility

McDonalds and Walmart prove how large organizations impact people all over the world. Both are corporate giants that have learned the importance of social and environmental responsibilities.

McDonald’s may be the largest fast food organization in the world. Part of the reason for their success is that they have developed both local and global strategies. The reasons for the different strategies is due to the following: tastes and customs, local competition, government laws, franchise operations, and local service quality. The global products and services provided by McDonald’s are delivered at each individual restaurant (Lynch, 2010).

McDonald’s has had great success, but they also have had a fair share of scrutiny. Low wages, poor working conditions and using non-recyclable products are just some of the criticisms. In the 1990’s McDonald’s stop using Styrofoam for their burger containers. In 2013 they that stopped using Styrofoam for their drink cups.

In 1994 a customer sued McDonald’s after she spilled one of their hot cups of coffee on herself and suffered serious injury. The case was popular and is currently used in many law and business courses. The woman was awarded 2.7 million dollars for her suffering and McDonald’s lowered the temperature of their coffee.

Walmart is another household name. They are the world’s largest retailer and the third largest employer. Loyal customers flock to the Walmart stores to get items ranging from t-shirts to flat screen televisions at a great price.

Unfortunately, while Walmart has great prices, they are known for poorly compensating their employees. The average hourly rate for an employee is $8.81 and at 34 hours a week comes to $15,576 a year. This is below the federal poverty level (UNIglobalunion, 2013). Another down side to employment at Walmart is their health benefits. Employees who work 30 hours a week or less are not eligible for health insurance from the company. These employees, who are the majority, have to rely on government help for medical coverage.

While looking at the negative aspects of Walmart’s public image, it’s important to also understand that it is not all doom and gloom. Walmart is a great success story of an American business which is one of the largest employers in the world. Plenty of employees have enjoyed working for the company and had successful career growth.

The point is that businesses need to not lose focus of how they are affecting people around the world and the environment. In the cases of McDonald’s and Walmart, their mistakes have hindered their public image. They have proven that corporate social responsibility needs to be leaderships top priority.

For more content like this, subscribe to the MacIsaac Consulting Blog.

To contact us about our services, click here.

References

Sheridan, P. (2014) Wal-Mart workers strike in major cities. Money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/04/news/companies/walmart-strike-day/

Lynch, R. (2010). McDonalds Global and Local Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6coDUDCJ10#t=339

UNIglobalunion (2013) Walmart Supply Chain. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZC4neLax5o#t=91

Knowing yourself and finding your sweet spot

sweet spot

Getting to know yourself is a difficult journey. A lot of people go through life, never discovering their true talents and passion. They may experience it from time to time, but they don’t know what their sweet spot is. Living life like this feels like a constant uphill battle.

Your sweet spot is the intersection of your talent and passion. Once you’ve tapped into your sweet spot, the sky is the limit. A good way to identify people who are living in their sweet spot, is their attitude towards life. These people don’t look at their job as something they dread or just as a means for a paycheck. No, these people don’t even consider their jobs work. They love what they do. They get excited each morning to go to the office.

For those of us who feel like we are not living in our sweet spot, there is good news. Tools like StrengthFinders, CPI Assessment, and others can help.  These tools help us to understand where our natural talents lay. We also have the opportunity to continue our education at any point. Granted, we have to be willing to put in work.

Serving others will also help you get to know yourself. As leaders we need to help others develop and succeed, and by doing so, we grow. The feedback we receive from others will give us a better picture of who we are.

In my personal journey, it wasn’t until I went back to school in my 30s that I started to get in touch with my strengths. Bethel University provided me with the tools I needed to hone in on my sweet spot. My mission is to help organizations and people succeed, and provide leadership based on Christian values.

Do you know what your sweet spot is? If not, you should consider putting in the work to find it. As the saying goes, it may not be easy, but it’s worth it.

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Leave it all on the field – 3 reasons to give it your all at work

Wake-Forest-Notre-Dame-Football-12

“Leave it all on the field”. It’s an expression you often here in sports. It means, give it everything you got! Do your very best. Don’t look back after the game and say, I could have played better.

In our professional lives, we should also have the mentality of leaving it all on the field. It’s not easy, but we need to do the best we can, one day at a time.

Here are three important reasons why we should give it our best at work.

  1. It calms worry and anxiety – Understand that we can’t control everything. We have limitations. This understanding brings a sense of ease and perspective. I remember a moment back in High School, taking the bus ride to an opposing football team. I was anxious on the ride, until I had a thought. The thought was, I’ll just do my best. After that thought, I felt calm, positive, and ready to play.
  2. You won’t have any regrets – Even if things don’t go well, we feel a strong sense of pride when we do our best. One of the biggest tragedies in life, is when people look back and say….what if? What if I did my best? What could have been?
  3. It’s the best thing you can do for your teammates – This may be the most important reason of all. It’s not just about you. It’s about the greater good of the team! Being your best is what helps your team the most.

Performing at our best doesn’t mean we have to work like maniacs, staying late and coming in at 5AM. Giving it our all means performing to our capability. This means following our gut and doing the right thing. Below are some examples of what it might mean to do our best:

  • Doing something that inconveniences us, to help our colleague.
  • Not being quick to react when something bothers us.
  • Pausing before sending that scolding email, and realizing it’s better to take the high ground.
  • Recognizing someone who is doing a great job, but has gone unnoticed.
  • Giving others credit, instead of trying to make yourself look good.
  • Having the courage to volunteer for a challenging task, that nobody else will take.

So, when you’re heading off to work in the morning, get your mind right. Even if you’re not happy with your current job, you can still be the best version of yourself. The best version of yourself is your true self.

Each day we are faced with challenges beyond our control. When you come home at night after a long day, I hope you can feel good knowing you gave it your all. Knowing you brought your true self, someone of high integrity, work ethic, and values.

I hope you feel good, knowing you left it all on the field.

For more content like this, subscribe to the MacIsaac Consulting Blog.

To contact us about our services, click here.

 

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