27 01 2013

His Masters VoiceAs more household names disappear from our High Streets on a seemingly weekly basis, it is time for that sector to start basing their strategies in reality and not in some fantasy world which doesn’t exist or in some bygone day which is not returning.

During 2012, I saw a sharp increase in organisations from one particular sector coming to me for advice and support in developing new strategies to carry them safely into the future. These organisations were seeing their world changing and historic certainties had become present day doubts almost overnight. Their world was changing and their strategies needed to reflect that fact if they were to have a safe, healthy future.

The sector I refer to is the Third Sector, that area made up of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises although the description of a sector facing a new world of uncertainty after decades of security could as easily fit the High Street.

The key challenge, among many, faced by the Third Sector organisations that came to me was that of reduced funding. Government and local authorities have drastically cut what funding they have available for the sector while other funders have found resources limited by a range of issues brought about by the ongoing downturn in local, national and international economies.

In order to continue with levels of service, care, development and intervention provided during the last decade, these organisations are facing a stark choice; diversify your income streams or shrink and possibly die.

Of course, I have come across organisations unwilling to change. Prepared to cross their fingers and hope the next funding bid is successful rather than plan for life in their new reality.

The parallels with the High Street are uncanny. We see a minority of businesses adapting to changing consumer habits and tighter consumer budgets while others close their eyes, cross their fingers and plan for a world where consumer habits are unaffected by the internet age and disposable income has been unaffected by the economic crisis.

The strategies of these companies are based in fantasy, a place in which no successful strategy will ever be based. Good strategy is of the real world. It is, of course, informed by the past but it is not dictated to by history. The place a good strategy is taking you is the future and a better future at that.

Next time a High Street chain closes and blames consumers for shopping on-line; instead of blame they should ask themselves if they were aware habits had changed why their strategy had not reflected this reality. And, if they were not aware, why not?

The Third Sector is grasping the fact that the world is a changed place from even five years ago. The High Street chains need to do the same, and quickly, before more household names go the way of Jessops, HMV, Comet, Blockbuster and far too many others.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, January 2013

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8 01 2013

Clough Taylor LogoOver the years I have committed to allocating 20% of my working hours to the design, development and running of charity events. At the end of last year, I launched a new social enterprise, People’s Events, with the idea that my 20% commitment will go further by chairing this new organisation than by acting as an individual.

People’s Events’ first event will mark the lives of two great men at one of the East Midlands’ most iconic venues and in support of some very worthy causes. I’d like to use my first blog of 2013 to share a little about the Clough Taylor People’s Run with you.

As its title suggests, the Clough Taylor People’s Run pays tribute to two remarkable men, Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. The successes of Clough and Taylor are now writ large in the pages of legend and although they are no longer with us, they are both remembered with affection by fans of all football clubs, not just the ones they managed.

Taking place on Sunday 10th March at the famous Donington Park motor racing circuit, the event will feature a 10km for over 13s and a 1km fun run for under 13s. Running is not compulsory; walkers are just as welcome. The important thing is to mark two great lives by supporting some great charities.

There are four official charities (although you can support whatever charity you want once you have entered). These are:

  • ·         CP Sport who help people with cerebral palsy fulfil their potential through sport
  • ·         Hope Against Cancer who fund vital cancer research programmes in the East Midlands
  • ·         Muscular Dystrophy Campaign who are dedicated to beating muscle wasting conditions and improving the lives of those affected by them
  • ·         Nottingham Hospitals Charity towards Pulmonary Fibrosis Research who are dedicated to researching and ultimately defeating Pulmonary Fibrosis

The Clough Taylor People’s Run is open to all and entering couldn’t be easier. Simply visit the event website, click on Event Entry and follow the instructions. There is even a downloadable entry form for those who prefer entering by post.

The entry fee of £20.00 (£10.00 for the 1km fun run) includes a T-shirt which you select your choice of colour for – Forest Red, Rams White or Neutral Blue. The challenge is for fans of the two clubs Brian Clough and Peter Taylor enjoyed their greatest successes with (Derby County and Nottingham Forest) to make their colour the predominant colour on the day! All finishers will also receive a commemorative medal.

Why not join us on 10th March and run (or walk) for Brian, for Peter, for Forest, for the Rams or simply for yourself but most importantly – for charity.

Don’t forget to spread the word!

The Clough Taylor People’s Run is endorsed by the families of both Brian Clough and Peter Taylor and supported by Derby County and Nottingham Forest football clubs. The event is sponsored by Donington Park, Quiet Storm, BCS Agency and (of course) Cowan Global. Limited sponsorship opportunities are still available, contact me for details. Follow the Clough Taylor People’s Run on Twitter and on Facebook.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, January 2013

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Twitter @cowanglobal