THIS NEW YEAR MAKE THOSE RESOLUTIONS ACTUALLY HAPPEN

31 12 2015
o-NEW-YEARS-RESOLUTIONS-facebook

Pic: Huffington Post

Every year is the same; depending on which survey you read somewhere over 70%, 80% or even 95% of all New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail. Where will yours stack up in that statistical pile?

Here are a few tips to ensure this year your resolution becomes reality.

I spend much of my time helping businesses, charities  and other organisations become more successful by helping them be better at strategy. This means not only better at delivering strategy but also, importantly, in establishing challenging but achievable targets to pursue in the first place.

And every year, where so many businesses fall short of their potential (and even fail), most of the population follow. Every year people set targets (aka New Year’s resolutions) they have absolutely no chance of achieving.

Key to your being successful in whatever you resolve to do in 2016 is to be smarter when you set your target now. By smarter, I mean SMARTER because it is an acronym you can test your resolution against:

S stands for specific. If you aren’t specific about what you want to achieve how can you honestly know when you have succeeded? “I want to lose weight,” simply won’t cut the mustard; “I want to lose half a stone” will. It is specific so that you know what it is you are setting out to achieve.

M stands for measurable. You need to be able to measure progress or you risk losing motivation. “I want to get fitter,” is a laudable aim but is hard to measure. “I want to be fit enough to run 5km without stopping” puts a measure on it and you can tick off 1, 2, 3 and 4 km as landmarks along the way to help keep you motivated.

A stands for agreed. If you are involving other people, they must all agree or you will fail. Beyond that people have a penchant for setting resolutions they think others will be impressed by instead of setting targets for themselves. Put another way, your resolution must be something that, deep inside, you agree you can and will pursue, you must agree your resolution with yourself! Half-hearted = half-arsed = doomed to fail.

R stands for realistic. You will know people (you might be one of them) who have big, often alcohol driven dreams every December 31st and who wake on 1st January to realise there is no way on God’s earth they will achieve their resolution and it bites the dust before it sees its first sunset. Unrealistic can mean plain crazy (eg I’m going to swim the Atlantic using butterfly) or ill-conceived such as committing to hit the gym for two hours every day when you know that work and family commitments will make one hour every other day far more realistic.

T stands for time-phased. In short; give yourself a deadline and, if it is a large undertaking, give yourself some time-phased check points along the way. So, if you are going to run to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro for charity it might be wise to have some progressive targets along the way as you prepare.

E stands for exciting. Does achieving your resolution excite you? If yes, great; if no, bin it and get another because if you aren’t excited by it now the further we get into 2016 the less you will be motivated to achieve it and that will lead to only one thing – failure.

R stands for recorded. Not just a record for yourself but a public record to which you agree to be accountable. This might be as simple telling your friends you are going to raise over £1000 for your favourite charity or it might be sharing your progress towards fitness, weight loss, giving up smoking or whatever else on a public blog. By recording what your resolution is you make yourself accountable for its success or its failure.

Whatever your resolution, good luck in achieving it. Have a great time on New Year’s Eve; see you the other side!

© Jim Cowan, December 2015

If you are looking for a challenge to make your aim for 2016, one which will test you, help get you fitter and help others, why not join me in doing the Rio 3 Peaks Challenge in November?

There’s plenty of time to get fit, raise funds and in doing so you will be helping Street Child United continue their fight against child homelessness.





EQUALITY – WORTH THE BOTHER?

26 06 2013

Committed_to_Equality_1I haven’t written on the value to business of understanding equality for a while however an email exchange from this morning leaves me compelled to wonder whether many still view it as something not worth the bother.

There are many very good reasons to ensure that your business takes Equality seriously. Of course, the biggest driver for many is the desire not to fall foul of the law even if, at the back of their minds, many view meeting the requirements of the Equality Act (2010) as little more than red tape.

It would be nice to believe that in the 21st century laws to ensure access to equal treatment for all are not necessary and that we all seek to accommodate our fellow human beings as best we possibly can. Sadly that is not the case and I am not naïve enough to believe it is.

That does not mean most people deliberately put barriers in the way of others. What does happen is that ignorance drives practice and the right questions are not asked, reasonable solutions not found. For that is all that the 2010 Act requires; that reasonable adjustments be made.

But other than the legal and the ‘human’ reasons for trying to provide equal access to all for your company or organisation there is another; good business practice. It might sound obvious but I will say it anyway, the easier it is for more people to access your company or organisation, the more likely it is they will use your products or services.

Which brings me back to that email exchange from this morning…..

I will shortly be acting as an expert witness in a court case. While most know me as an expert in Strategy, in this case I will be appearing specifically as an expert in Equality Strategy. Earlier today I received an email from a solicitor asking that I pass comment on a document he had prepared for the Court. He was keen that if we were to be arguing a case based on equality, any documents submitted must reflect both expertise and belief in that area.

The content of both the solicitor’s email and the attachment read well and were factually correct, however both fell short of his aim due to his poor choice of font. I commented as such, suggested a different font and advised him why it made a difference.

His reply interested me. The attached document was now presented in a good, accessible font. However his email remained in the original font. I remarked on this over the phone and, to paraphrase his reply, was told, “Oh, that’s okay, the Court won’t see that.”

This attitude is not uncommon in businesses and organisations in all sectors. Government departments, local government, charities, sports clubs and others all discriminate against significant sections of society because they can’t be bothered to change once their ‘ignorances’ are pointed out to them.

The law requires reasonable adjustments be made. I believe changing the default font setting on emails is reasonable. I do not believe that not being bothered is but, to date, no test case has been brought to support my view.

But beyond the law, what about running a successful business, department, charity, club or whatever? Does it make sense to deliberately make it more difficult for large parts of society to work with you? Does it make sense not to make access as easy as competitors who do make reasonable adjustments? Does it make sense not to steal a march on competitors who do not make those reasonable adjustments?

You tell me. The example of the poor choice of font used above could negatively impact on dyslexics accessing and making use of that solicitor’s services. Ten percent of the population are dyslexic, 4% severely so. Even at four percent, that is potentially 2.4 million customers (UK) you are gifting to your competitors. Why? Because you can’t be bothered.

The Equality Act of 2010 is the legal driver behind businesses and organisations in all sectors making reasonable adjustments which will provide improved access for all. Some call it red tape, I prefer to think of it as acting like a decent human being.

But even if the legal and the human reasons don’t drive you to reasonable adjustment, maybe the business case should?

If you can be bothered.

 

If you would like to find out more about this topic and/or would like to discuss arranging an Equality Audit for your business or organisation, please drop me a line to the email address below.

Also on Equality:

Equality – No Room For Excuses (2012)

Equality and Ignorance Driven Insanity in Business (2012)

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, June 2013

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ENOUGH FANTASY: THE HIGH STREET NEEDS REALITY BASED STRATEGY

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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A NEW EVENT MARKING THE LIVES OF TWO GREAT MEN SUPPORTING SOME GREAT CAUSES!

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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NEW YEAR; NEW RESOLUTION; NEW FAILURE?

28 12 2012

new-years-resolutionsEvery year is the same; depending on which survey you read somewhere over 70%, 80% or even 95% of all New Year’s Eve resolutions are doomed to fail. Where will yours stack up in that statistical pile? 

Here are a few tips to ensure this year your resolution becomes reality.

Here at Cowan Global we spend our time helping businesses and third sector organisations become successful by helping them be better at strategy. This means not only better at delivering strategy but in establishing challenging but achievable targets to pursue in the first place.

And every year, where so many organisations fall short of their potential (and even fail), most of the population follow. Every year people set targets (aka New Year’s Resolutions) they have absolutely no chance of delivering.

Key to your being successful in whatever you resolve to do in 2013 is to be smarter when you set your target now. By smarter, I mean SMARTER because it is an acronym you can test your resolution against:

S stands for specific. If you aren’t specific about what you want to achieve how can you honestly know when you have succeeded? “I want to lose weight,” simply won’t cut the mustard; “I want to lose half a stone” will. It is specific so that you know what it is you are setting out to achieve.

M stands for measurable. You need to be able to measure progress or you risk losing motivation. “I want to get fitter,” is a laudable aim but is hard to measure. “I want to be fit enough to run 10km without stopping” puts a measure on it and you can tick off 1, 2, 3, 4 and more kms as landmarks along the way to help keep you motivated.

A stands for agreed. If you are involving other people, they must all agree or you will fail. Beyond that people have a penchant for setting resolutions they think others will be impressed by instead of setting targets for themselves. Put another way, your resolution must be something that, deep inside, you agree you can and will pursue, you must agree your resolution with yourself! Half-hearted = half-arsed = doomed to fail.

R stands for realistic. You will know people (you might be one of them) who have big, often alcohol driven dreams every December 31st who wake on 1st January to realise there is no way on God’s earth they will achieve their resolution and it bites the dust before it sees its first sunset. Unrealistic can mean plain crazy (eg I’m going to swim the Atlantic using butterfly) or ill-conceived such as committing to hit the gym for two hours every day when you know that work and family commitments will make one hour every other day far more realistic.

T stands for time-phased. In short; give yourself a deadline and, if it is a large undertaking give yourself some time-phased check points along the way. So, if you are going to run to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro for charity it might be wise to have some progressive targets along the way as you prepare.

E stands for exciting. Does achieving your resolution excite you? If yes, great; if no, bin it and get another because if you aren’t excited by it now the further we get into 2013 the less you will be motivated to achieve it and that will lead to only one thing – failure.

R stands for recorded. Not just a record for yourself but a public record to which you agree to be accountable. This might be as simple as telling your friends you are going to raise over £1000 for your favourite charity or it might be sharing your progress towards fitness, weight loss, giving up smoking or whatever else on a public blog. By recording what your resolution is you make yourself accountable for failure.

There are other acronyms you can employ. If you are aiming to improve at something you already do try CRAMP. Your resolution will need to be Challenging but Realistic, Agreed and Measurable not forgetting Performance orientated. Of course, if you forget to make it Measurable it becomes something else altogether!

Whether SMARTER, CRAMP or February wash out, thank you for reading the Cowan Global Blog during 2012, I’m looking forward to writing more in 2013 and hope you will join me then.

Have a great time on New Year’s Eve; see you the other side!

Clough Taylor LogoIf you are looking for a great charity run (or walk) to make your resolution target, why not consider the Clough Taylor People’s Run on 10th March? Organised by social enterprise People’s Events (of whom I am Chairman) and supported by Cowan Global, the event is a 10km run (or walk) around the historic Donington Park motor racing circuit in memory of two great men, Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, and in support of some fantastic causes. Every participant gets a free T-shirt and every finisher a commemorative medal. For more details click here.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, December 2012

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THE MILITARY WIVES RUN2REMEMBER!

16 10 2012

I am extremely proud to be working with the Royal British Legion on the first ever Run 2 Remember event and thought I would share a recent press release.

Military Wives Choir to open the Legion’s Run2Remember

The Military Wives Choir will be the special guests at a family fun run near Royal Wootton Bassett to support our brave Armed Forces community, and The Royal British Legion is urging people to sign up and join in.

Run2Remember takes place at 11am on Saturday 10th November in Lydiard Park just outside of Royal Wootton Bassett, and the Military Wives Choir will be performing their new single ‘Together we’re stronger’ to kick off the event.

The run is open to all ages and abilities and includes an 11km run and a smaller 1.1km run for those wanting to do a shorter circuit.

Some of those preparing to run include teams of current Service personnel, veterans, their friends and families, local schools and organisations, and other supporters of the Legion’s vital work.

Leading the runners will be Legion beneficiary and Former Private in the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment Aron Shelton, who had his left leg amputated after the vehicle he was travelling in hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Aron, was supported through his Disability Living Allowance tribunal by the Legion and successfully won his claim.

“The Legion has helped me – now I’m helping the Legion in return. I’m so proud to be starting the Run2Remember at Lydiard Park this year.”

The Legion’s Director of National Events and Fundraising Russell Thompson OBE said: “We’re inviting people to take part in Run2Remember to honour our Service community for their immense contribution and sacrifice.

“Whether you’re running to remember a lost loved one or as a show of support to those currently serving in Afghanistan – you’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with all who serve.”

Run2Remember will take place the day after the Afghanistan Heroes Field of Remembrance opens at Lydiard Park.

The Field of Remembrance is located in the Walled Garden, where approximately 35,000 Remembrance crosses, each with a personal message to those who have fallen during the Afghanistan conflict, will be planted.

For further information, and to take part in Run2Remember, visit the webpage www.run2remember.org.uk





RUN TO GIVE FOR THOSE WHO GAVE (OR JOG OR WALK…..)

29 09 2012

Living in a free society we sometimes take things for granted.

The right to share and debate opinions, when and where we holiday, what we do with our leisure time, what we read online, where we work….the list is endless.

Every now and then an opportunity comes along to say thank you to those who gave so much, and continue to give, so we can all enjoy those freedoms we take for granted. The Poppy Run has been just such an opportunity for me and, I hope, for you.

The Poppy Run, now in its second year, is a national series of 5km fun runs aimed at raising funds for and awareness of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. As part of my annual commitment to support charity I fill the role of National Director for The Poppy Run.

The concept is simple, volunteer local organisers put on a Poppy Run for their community supported centrally in taking entries, ordering resources, managing health and safety and all of those necessarily elements which can add an unwanted administrative burden on the volunteer. Some Poppy Runs attract 50 participants, others over 200 or more and in the future…..who knows.

People who want to take part in a Poppy Run can enter online or by post. Talent isn’t an issue, The Poppy Run is not a race; there are no prizes, just medals for all finishers whether they run, jog, walk or even crawl the 5km route. If you want to take part but don’t fancy the 5km, you can get involved by volunteering to marshal at one of the events.

All Poppy Runs start at the same time, 11.00 a.m. on Sunday 28th October (the last Sunday in October annually), timed to coincide with the official launch of the annual Poppy Appeal.

This year, in only its second year, there are ten Poppy Runs taking place around the country so there is a good chance there is one near you. We are aiming to have more and more Poppy Runs every year at more and more places around the country.

If you are interested in finding out more about organising your own local Poppy Run in 2013, please drop me an email to jim@poppy-run.com. If you would like to volunteer to marshal at one of this year’s Poppy Runs contact the office at office@poppy-run.com. And if you would like to Run To Give For Those Who Gave™ visit www.poppy-run.com and enter today. And if you really don’t want to leave the comfort of your sofa, you can still support The Poppy Run by ordering your Poppy Run T-shirt from the Poppy Run Facebook shop.

Think about those freedoms we all take for granted; how will you say “thank-you” to those who gave so you can continue to enjoy those freedoms today, tomorrow and long into the future?

Web: www.poppy-run.com

Email: office@poppy-run.com

Facebook.com/ThePoppyRun

Twitter: @poppyrun

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, September 2012

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