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If importing a celebrity CEO is seldom a good idea, why would you want to use that hired gun called management consultant? He (or she) may know even less about your business and may have never even been a manager or business owner. How can they contribute anything?

Since I spend a lot of my time selling that service and playing that role I had better have a good answer to that question. Some of my thoughts on the subject are already documented in the article ““Consultants: How to choose, use and not abuse them.” See: Ezine articles.

The consultant cannot know your business, your environment or your issues better than you. But he (or she) can add the value of their own knowledge, experience and skills to better analyse the problems or opportunities and develop solutions and action plans with you. The consultant should assist with brainstorming, open up new possibilities to consider, suggest some different strategies, tactics and techniques to get where you want to go. They should be practical and fit your business needs, budget, timetable, priorities, capabilities and corporate culture.

A good consultant should challenge and stimulate you to do better. You are not hiring a friend to remind you how smart you are or to tell you that you already have the right solution.

More than that? You will have to pay me. I am a consultant after all.

It may seem like we are getting more done by multitasking but maybe we would be more productive and deliver better results by focusing on one thing at a time.

I’m guilty of needing to keep all my faculties engaged by doing at least two things at once. Reading the paper, eating breakfast, listening to the radio would be typical. On Sunday night I’m switching between doing my blog, watching the hockey game and talking to my son in Vancouver. Probably not focusing adequately on any one of them but feeling productive by doing several things at once.

Also working on two interesting books at the same time. Jim Collins “Good to Great” and Henry Mintzberg’s “Manager’s, Not MBA’s”. Both have quite controversial and and unconventional points of view. Collins’ research on companies that have gone from poor to exceptional performance concludes that none of them brought in celebrity CEOs that made big breakthrough strategic moves. Mintzberg makes a strong case against the value of an MBA for future managers and the damage done by the emphasis on analysis and bold strategic decisions by MBA trained executives. They would both suggest the recent history of HP under Carly Fiorina proves their point. She apparently disagrees.

Can we learn anything good from the celebrity CEOs that get so much attention as visionary leaders with exceptional entrepreneurial skills? I would say yes we can extract some useful ideas from their business strategies and tactics, but their are two important things to remember. First, their unique personalities and skill sets have a lot to do with their success (and their notoriety) and cannot be replicated. Second, their industry and company knowledge and experience may not translate into success in another company. That lesson has been very expensive to learn for many Boards of Directors and Shareholders. Think HP or Home Depot.

That’s all for tonight. My battery is dying and Calgary-Detroit are in overtime!

Maybe not that unusual for Canadians, but we’ve gone from four inches of wet snow on Monday morning to warm and sunny today with a forecast of 23C on the weekend. Winter to summer in less than a week? Welcome to Montreal in 2007.

No this is not another rant about global warming. Enough is being said, blogged or otherwise, about that subject without my personal contribution. This is more about recognizing what is unique and worth appreciating about our hometown.

Just back from a trip to Spain where the historic sites go back almost 3000 years to 800BC when the Phonecians first built sophisticated structures at Cadiz, followed by the Romans then the Moors and the Spanish Catholics, all on the same site. Makes our upcoming 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City seem fairly recent. But as a native of south-eastern BC where a 40 year old log cabin has historical significance it is still fascinating to me. And they’re still here. I had lunch yesterday with a M. Leduc who is a 13th generation Quebecer.

And I thought I was a real Canadian as a third generation native. But I do feel lucky to be able to enjoy the special charms and features of two home towns – Kimberley, BC and Montreal, Quebec.

Now that I’ve said I’m committed to blogging for the greater good, more than just the personal satisfaction, I’m going to have to keep it up.

Flurry of topics to consider – more business advice from Uncle Ralph, comments on the Virginia Tech massacre, business issues discussed at lunch, or the best seller I finally bought “Good to Great” by Jim Collins?

Let’s settle on the latter – best business books that must be read if you’re serious about being a better manager or running a more successful business.

On my list:
  1. Built to Last, also by Jim Collins
  2. In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Tom Waterman(?) the original business best seller that is claimed to have started an industry.
  3. Ben Franklin’s 12 Rules of Management by Blaine McCormick and the Autobiography of Ben Franklin by Ben himself (obviously).
  4. Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey Mackay
  5. The Bootstrapper’s Bible by Seth Godin
  6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  7. First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

And on your recommended reading list?

This is Uncle Ralph checking in.

Who am I? I’m a creation of Del Chatterson. He’s too humble to offer all this advice and insight himself so he has created this pseudonym. Remember Mark Twain? And how about Samuel Clemens, why was he hiding behind a pseudonym?

I am a composite character of all the best managers that Del has ever met or learned from. He attributes to me all the best advice he has ever received from colleagues, associates, employees, customers, competitors, teachers, writers and his parents. I have learned more lessons from experience than he or any other one person will ever learn for themselves. Or as his sister puts it, “learn from the mistakes of others, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

So I will offer wise words of advice and counsel to business owners, managers, entrepreneurs and executives without any inhibitions, humility or modesty. I will moderate the e2eforum and facilitate discussion between business peers and expert advisors. My intent is to to help improve people’s business performance and their personal lives. I am optimistically ambitious about what we can accomplish together.

Until the next time ….

OK, after more browsing of other people’s blogs I have been suitably inspired/motivated to try harder.

You can give the credit (blame) to the bloggers listed in my sidebar – Mitch Joel, Rick Spence and finally Jim Estill. You may not know them but they’re worth a visit; maybe they’ll inspire you too. Mitch is a marketing guru in Montreal, Rick is a business writer on entrepreneurship, and Jim is a very successful entrepreneur in the Canadian computer industry.

It seemed to me that blogging was very narcissistic – a self absorbed, lonely, anti-social mission to make daily diary entries and expose them to the world. Who wants to browse your bad writing about who you are, what you’re doing and what you think? Who cares?

But now I can appreciate that it is more of an expression of the personal desire to share ideas and information and to expand our personal networks through the Web. It is also a good discipline to force ideas into writing and then expose them to interested readers for critique and discussion.

So this blog is now the introduction to Uncle Ralph and the e2eforum’s mission to inform, educate, advise and inspire other business executives and entepreneurs.

Stay tuned.

OK now its more than two years after that first post… where did the time go?

e2eforum has made little progress beyond the concept – a place online for entrepreneurs and executives to share ideas, information and inspiration.

Where to start? How to create a “forum” with enough partipants to make it interesting and valuable?

Some ideas and opportunities are developing. A first draft website is underway and the concepts are being refined. Some strategic partners are appearing that provide the necessary catalyst to accelerate the launch.

Stay tuned.

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