At a recent noon-hour luncheon speech, the governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, made the following statement in reference to the position we must take as businesses in general and as a nation as a whole about to enter into an “age of austerity”.
“The efforts required of all of us will be heroic and hesitation will be costly.”
In the ensuing CBC news broadcast that same day, the National, Senior Business Correspondent, Amanda Lang was asked by backup anchor, Wendy Mesley, to make comment on Governor Carney’s presentation in Charlottetown earlier in the day.
She said that what Governor Carney was really talking about was the fact, in terms of productivity, we are currently failing badly, and we need to become much more productivity orientated.
Productivity is what each worker produces. Productivity determines how wealthy we will become. She went on to add that in order to combat our current lack of productivity, we need to do three things:
- invest in equipment and technology
- invest in training
- innovate in other ways
Personally, I cannot help but be in wholehearted agreement with both Governor Carney and Amanda Lang. I know we are facing tremendous challenges. I also believe the opportunity to build new successful ventures has never been greater. Putting it simply and bluntly, what Mr. Carney is really trying to say, only more politely, is that we need to “get the lead out” and make it happen – whatever it’s going to take to be successful – we’ve simply got do it!
We are going to have to do some things we have never had to do before. We are going to have to do some things differently, things that may even appear radical, but unless we do so and do it in haste, forget it, all is lost. I think he is also saying that people and businesses are going to have to learn how to stand on their own two feet. The handouts have ended. Sounds pretty gloomy, doesn’t it!
Having said all that, you are now probably thinking, ”This simply cannot be the case. It can’t be all that bad. What in the word do I do now?”
The real truth is and what they are both saying is that reality is about to sink in whether we like it or not. It is time for change and change we are getting. The nice thing about change is that we can be our own architects for change. Each and every one of us can not only become different in order to effect change, but we can also make that difference very much what we want it to be – make it what works for each of us.
Governor Carney set the stage for us, Amanda Lang gave us the first clues as to what we need to do. I am going to tell you how, we – you and I, together we can make it happen.
Amanda’s first suggestion was that we need to invest in new technology. She is absolutely right.
But here I want to offer you some very serious thinking points, particularly as this whole issue relates to information systems. I mention information systems, not only because it is something that is near and dear to my heart, but because I fear for your future and the great danger that lies in your path – a danger you may not be aware of, or if you are, you may still be unable to see any alternatives.
I urge you to think very seriously about what you are investing in when it comes to information systems. Is what you are considering purchasing truly different than what you already have? Is it going to let you easily diversify when you suddenly realize that diversification becomes an issue? Is it going to let you easily expand your operations to anywhere you want to go when that golden opportunity to do so presents itself? Is it going to consolidate your information base and management team to those ultimately favorable efficiency and productivity levels? Is it going to dramatically increase both your level and amount of available information? Is it going to pay for itself – quickly – over and over again? Is it going to be easy to install? Is it going to be easy to learn and teach others how to use? Is it designed to help promote innovation?
Or is it simply going to replace what you currently use? If it is, don’t waste your money. Change means change – not the same old, same old all over again – not even if and when acquired from a different supplier. All of those questions presented in the previous paragraph are features you definitely need in this impending age of austerity.
The second thing in her list was that we need to invest in education. Right again! No one could argue with that. If you are in a position whereby you are acquiring new training to meet new career path objectives, it is definitely to your advantage to select training programs befitting your objectives. It is also paramount that your objectives are realistic and your training represents the fulfillment of a required need.
I could write pages about the follies of education but this is not the article to do it in. There are a few things to bear in mind though and I would simply like to bring them to your attention.
Many advertisements for employment positions are written by head-hunters and head-hunters are extremely adept at their own personal resume building. As a result many advertisements for new people are vastly over-qualify people for the position to be filled. As a consequence, many employers have unwittingly created very expensive administrative and technical departments, even built vast internal empires, within their organizations. These are empires which should not exist. In most companies these empires will be dismantled. If not, the consequences will be grave.
The second thing about education is that the paramount issue for employers over the next few years is not going to be so much as what you know or what you have done. Not nearly so much as what you want do and how you plan to achieve it. In other words, they aren’t going to be any where nearly so concerned about how much you know as they are about how much you care and are committed to caring through your actions.
The purpose for being in business is to provide a product and or service in return for a profit. What does that mean? It simply means we buy something, we do something with it and we sell it. It is that simple. If what you are doing does not directly and positively make a contribution to that process, your job is definitely in danger as well as your entire company.
Some of the best jobs in this nation have not been awarded to people with the longest list of degrees but rather to people who knew what they wanted and figured out how to get it. With this in mind, always remember that private sector employer’s main issue is definitely going to be efficiency, productivity and innovation. Figure out how you can fit in where you want to go and make it happen with whatever education and experience you need to get there.
The third and last thing I would like to say about education is that it will likely become more specialized and more refined but please beware that educational institutions are in business for a reason that is far more important to them than it is to you. Their number one objective, in spite of what they might otherwise say, is to make money. Why? Because, if they don’t, they are out of business too and there are also limited dollars for education and every dollar, more that ever before in our history, has to count. Make sure they are teaching you what you need to know, not useless dogma designed to stretch your tenure with their institution.
The way employers can radically reduce their own internal education costs is by hiring people who truly want to get the job done, not necessarily those who possess a long list of degrees.. This will allow employees to not only be vastly more effective and highly productive but they will be able to concentrate on the real objectives of the organization, buying and selling their products and services, and being superiorly innovative rather than fulfilling the requirements of third party software firms.
The second way that employers can even more radically reduce their internal education costs is to make certain the business software they are employing to run their business does run their business and is not simply a façade for software companies to build their empires on. How you know this is happening is when the advertisements for employees clearly state that the applicant must have a specified number of years experience with a specific named software product. If the software is so specific they need that kind of person or persons, they have severe problems that need attention that have nothing to do with what they really should be doing – buying and selling product. Software solutions should be relatively simple so as anyone can use them, not require brand name specialists.
One of the most important of all things that will contribute immeasurably to the success of Canadian businesses in this time of austerity will be knowledge.
Having the right information at the right time will be absolutely essential for innovation and the development of good decisions the instant they are required.
Powerful Information systems must replace existing accounting systems and virtually all ERP management software must truly consolidate the whole of businesses and management, not just give the appearance of having done so. There are very few ERP information systems capable of doing this in a manner that also provides the simplicity, ease of use and affordability required to maintain continued solvency, particularly for small and medium sized businesses.
Canadian business leaders, not our politicians, must take the imitative to bypass traditional methodologies for selecting new accounting and small business ERP software systems and personally play a first position role in the process, always with a mandate to creating new goals. It is our individual responsibility to pay heed to what we have heard from Mr. Carney and each and every one of us must follow up by doing our part.
In conclusion, what we first really need to do in business in Canada is ensure we have high quality information at all times. As individuals, each person refocusing on what we really need to do with that information, we will succeed.
There is probably no other nation any better positioned to do this than Canada. We have the natural resources. We have the people. We have the talent. We have the tools.
I say it is time to get on with it!
There is no time to loose.