27 08 2010
That’s a lot of money!

It’s a figure we’re very proud of. Why? 

2010 is the year that events that have been conceptualised, designed, launched and/or organised by Jim Cowan and Cowan Global broke the £1/4 Billion mark in terms of money raised for charities and good causes. 

The Race for Life was conceptualised, designed and launched by Jim Cowan (photo Heart.co.uk)


It all started in a small way during the mid ‘70s when Jim was a schoolboy and read about the Stoke Mandeville Appeal and its aim to build a national spinal injuries unit near Aylesbury. 

He organised a sponsored 48 hour cycle ride at his school using other students to raise sponsorship money, teachers to promote and parents to do both. The event was a success and Jim was bitten by the bug. 

Fast forward two decades and Jim was running Sporting Chance UK when he came up with the idea of a nationwide series of 5km runs to raise money for and promote the fight against breast cancer. 

One leading charity actually told him the idea would never work but the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) loved the idea and in Battersea Park in 1994 the Race For Life was born. 

There have been other ideas both big and small, some ideas raising a couple of hundred pounds, others into the thousands and more until in 2010 the £1/4 Billion mark was reached. 

We’re not stopping yet though. 

We’re launching Legends Talking Bollox! through which we aim to raise funds for the fight against testicular cancer. Nationwide we’ll be running sportsmen’s dinners and pub/club nights aimed and using a great night out to raise awareness of a very serious cause starting with football’s original hard man Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris and comedian Mickey Pugh at Arnold Town Football Club in Nottingham on 10th September. Booking details available here

By all talking bollox we can beat testicular cancer


We aren’t stopping there either, there are more events on the horizon, watch this space for details. 

And what of your events and fund raisers? If you want a great event organised by a team with a genuine track record of raising serious funds for charity, why not get in touch? Whether you’re a charity, a community group a business or an individual our expertise could make all the difference. All we ask is that you remember our company ethos for an event; it must be fun, easy to understand and benefit a good cause. 

Here’s to another £1/4 Billion before we’re done! 

© Cowan Global Limited, 2010 


Twitter @cowanglobal


21 08 2010

Take a look at our flyer for Ron Harris Talking Bollox!

FINAL LTB A5 flyer_Layout 1

Why not help us fight testicular cancer by downloading a copy for your company or club noticeboard or shop window? Or you could ask us to post you an A5, A4 or A3 version.

And don’t forget to tell your friends and colleagues.

It’s okay to talk bollox, your life may depend on it!


20 08 2010

….You might not even notice!

It sounds obvious but your strategy should be about achieving your vision and, assuming that vision is realistic; your strategy should be delivering that vision.

Yet when expectations are not met, the strategy is often the last thing put under close examination.

And yet, when creating your strategy, did you consider any of these factors?

Your planning assumes stability

Neither the business environment nor the world offer stability and it is a mistake to assume they will.

Base your strategy on an assumption of stability and things can go wrong very quickly.

Your planning is ‘risk averse’

Many strategies are based on taking small steps forward from the previous year. This neither helps creative thinking nor addresses uncertainty.

Of course, it is essential to consider the past but it is also wise to be prepared to take some risk in approaching the future.

We all know the world offers an environment of constant change and yet we plan as if change is unlikely or even impossible.

Your planning relies on over analysis, lacking intuition

Many strategists have strong analytical skills and understandably rely on this.

Yet many companies which have taken large steps forward, especially in emerging lines of business have done so by applying a good size dollop of intuition and common sense.

Imagine the internet if all planning had been based on analysis of previous experience!

Compliance is not commitment

Top down, imposition management might get the job done, but does it get the job done well and create a sense of ownership among those delivering the strategy?

A committed workforce will always be superior to one just there for the pay check (not that they’ll work for free)!

Management is not leadership

Simplistically, managing is about optimising what you have while leadership is going forward in a certain direction.

‘Resource optimisation’ is hardly an effective way of taking people with you.

Unlike many other strategy consultants, at Cowan Global we believe in helping you develop a strategy which is individually tailored to your needs, to your vision.

We’ll even help you develop that vision if that is needed.

No templates, no ‘rear view mirror’ thinking.

Why not get in touch and see what we can do for you?

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited 2010


Twitter @cowanglobal


12 08 2010

The SWOT analysis has long been a favoured technique of those involved in formulating strategy. But when was the last time someone stopped to ask whether it is a worthwhile piece of work or a waste of time?

It is often true that things are done the way they are done, not because it is the best way to do things but because that is the way they have always been done. Until someone comes along with that ‘hang on a minute….’ thought and starts asking questions.

In 1997, Hill and Westbrook* had their ‘hang on a minute….’ moment and went out and surveyed 50 UK companies to look at their strategy writing processes.

They found that only 20 (40%) of the companies surveyed even used the SWOT analysis (incredibly with the help of fourteen different consultants) and that of those 20 none used the results of their SWOT analyses when formulating their strategy.

So, in short, of 50 companies 40% carried out SWOT analyses and 0% (zero) used a SWOT analyses to inform strategy.

But is this really surprising? Wherever you find a strength you will likely also find a weakness, the same for opportunities and threats.

If strategy is the means by which we achieve our vision how important is a SWOT analysis to our route map to success? And if we never did another SWOT analysis again, apart from the saving in terms of time and money, would we even notice?


*T Hill and Roy Westbrook (1997). SWOT analysis. It’s time for a product recall. Long Range Planning. 30(I), 46-53

Further reading on employing the SWOT Analysis: ‘Analysing Your Organisation – The SWOT Analysis’  (July 2011)

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited,2010


Twitter: @cowanglobal


4 08 2010

Or should that be why is he/she charging you so much?

Of course, the consultant you are talking to might just be expensive but there are also lots of seemingly unimportant or irrelevant things you might be doing which are bumping up the price that consultant charges you!

From personal experience, here are a few things which have meant we have charged clients a little (or even a lot) more which will help you keep what you are charged down.

That consultant isn’t as expensive as you think

Not providing the consultant with the information required and/or requested.

In order to gain an understanding of a project prior to quoting we provided a client with a simple spreadsheet which highlighted what information we needed in order to quote accurately. All the client had to do was to fill in the highlighted cells and return it to us.

Instead they emailed a list of information which, once we had transferred the information to the spreadsheet, we found only partially covered what had been requested. We asked again and received another list with more information for us to enter into the spreadsheet. We asked a third and fourth time for the missing bits of data but to no avail.

When we then quoted the client we costed in the extra admin time we were likely to need judging from this experience plus further time for chasing down the information we were still lacking. The client suggested they thought the price was high but it was a fair reflection of the time we would need to invest should the client continue to be slap dash with details we needed. We still expected a good job of ourselves even if the client was going to make that harder/longer work.

Tip; keep the bill down by providing the consultant with the information he/she requests and by avoiding creating extra admin for them. Remember we charge for our time, all of it!

Pretending data and/or information exists when clearly it does not.

Another client had told us, before the job started, that all the files and other information, including budgets, had been done. Once we began the job we discovered that while some had, most were only part completed and would require finishing either by the client or by us.

The client’s view was that they had engaged us to do the job and therefore we should complete the missing files. The same client, for some inexplicable reason, was surprised when we invoiced them for the additional work!

Tip; don’t tell your consultant that work that needs to be done in order for them to complete the job has been done when you know they will discover it hasn’t. The job will still need doing only now at the consultant’s rates not your admin staff’s rates!

Use the consultant’s time wisely.

At Cowan Global we charge by the day, not by the hour, but we don’t mind you filling that day up for us. One client had us working on three separate projects for three different departments and despite our suggestions that they coordinate diaries they regularly arranged work on different days in two and three hour segments. This resulted in higher bills all for the sake of a little inter departmental planning and communication.

Tip; if you can coordinate the work into one day rather than spreading it over several part days the consultant will probably charge you considerably less.

Don’t be put off by a quote that is outside your budget.

Most consultants have a standard fee charged either hourly or daily. If they quote you more than you can afford don’t be afraid to ask what they can do within your budget. Most consultants do what they do because a) they enjoy it and b) they like helping people. If we know your budget we can help you find a way of getting the job done – that is assuming the budget is a realistic one!

Tip; don’t be afraid to share your budget with your consultant, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many will help.

Have you checked whether the consultant offers discounts?

Not all do but at Cowan Global (for example) we offer discounts to charities, not for profit organisations, community focused projects and for the third sector. But if we don’t know you are within one of these categories, we won’t offer the discount.

Tip; Ask about discounts within your sector, especially if you are among the type of organisation mentioned.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

We prefer clients who ask questions, it suggests they are interested. Those questions can (and possibly should) include asking about how a quote breaks down. By understanding that you might find that there are elements to a job you can do more economically in-house while letting the consultant focus on their own area of expertise.

Tip; employ a consultant for their specialism(s), not to do the things your existing staff can do as well and more economically.


Why does that consultant cost so much? Often it’s because of seemingly unimportant or irrelevant things. But apply a little thought about how you use the consultant’s skills, experience and knowledge to the best and most economical benefit, match this with a fair size dollop of common sense and you will see that maybe he/she isn’t so expensive after all!

Of course expertise does cost and there is another reason why that consultant might appear to cost so much; the effect on your business of not employing him/her will be even higher!

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited 2010


Twitter @cowanglobal