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Organizational Development: Culture Changes and The Voice of The Customer- Fahim Moledina

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]I have questioned much of my formal learning recently in regards to not just the ROI but the tortuous nature of some exams. Recently I read about the CFE (CPA certification exam- Common Final Exam) that takes over two years to acquire but the exam is three days long and is fairly intense. I understand the need for an intensive process and training for any professional but at what point is this excessive. It seems like many professional associations currently are more interested in making sure they collect their money and also maximize their profits as they are not focused on teaching but maximizing their profit. This often means charging a high fee and in reality, do not measure the knowledge of the student. I will explain my positioning further in this post. The CPA recently had some issue with their CFE (Common Final Exam) it is a three-day ordeal that currently on average passes just below 80% of the writers. I have written exams much like this or in University had two to three-hour exams each day for 3 days which is fairly comparable. The issue here is often very accomplished individuals who are more than competent struggle on exams and often the competence on a subject cannot be measured on a three-day gruelling exam- I have met some incredibly bright people smarter than me who have failed exams and certifications that I have passed. Often these older organizations struggle with change. The CFE debacle has not been solved as students unfairly still had to write exams without appropriate resources as well as long waits of over 12 hours with minimal access to nourishment. It is disappointing that the CPA did not perform their due diligence in regards to QA testing for their CFE exam. Some basic best practices in regards to quality/ user testing would have probably solved the issues that occurred. The question is now with the CFE exam providing an unfair experience for students what will CPA do. It seems like not counting this attempt is a start but I know if I was a student and had put in all that time studying I would have been devastated being put in this situation:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]Organization Development (OD) is becoming more important as speed in operations and strategy is becoming a necessity with technology changing how people work. Workplace culture is increasingly becoming important in organizations as companies need to modernize or even just keep up with the current market. The functions of an OD Department are vast and often they have high influence on the methodologies and processes that are key to employee’s skills, efficiencies and leadership. There are many companies with no OD group but somebody or a team of people always need to fill the role. OD demand is increasing with the pace of technology, business and customer demands to push organizations to keep up with demand. The methodologies and the processes built by OD groups send a ripple effect across organizations good and bad. Often these groups are empowered to make changes across organizations and really drive a corporate culture, they have many requirements and some of them I will not touch on, but the ones that I will are training, change management, and the OD team’s role in fostering the corporate culture. Human resource development (HRD) and OD are different as human resource development is focused on individuals growth (even though OD teams often will help on this training) within an organization while OD is more focused on the methodologies, processes and structure to improve organizational effectiveness so initiatives are often on a larger scale.

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It is essential the OD teams understand change as well as often they are facilitating or leading change. Often OD specialists are training groups on new methods and help guide restructuring if it is to occur. What is often missed in this role is measuring the impacts of the initiatives — often people think of OD initiatives as projects and follow up on measurement and impact is not as common as one would think. Still with the demands for change in regards to working with greater speed and hyper-personalization the question is how can OD teams helps foster an environment where change is embraced and the culture of an organization shifts to be customer centric and really based on the voice of the customer.

Organizational Development groups being Human Resource Department centric is inherently flawed. If OD teams want to implement change, the structure of teams being cross-functional and understanding the customer, client or stakeholder intimately starts to become very important. I do understand that this can be an undertaking with tradeoffs but cost-benefit analysis (CBA) should be carried out on initiatives and of course following if people-driven a comparative Cost-productivity analysis (CPA) is also highly recommended. Some methods of evaluation for initiatives as well as making them more iterative can help their success. OD initiatives are becoming increasingly important as these teams can affect outcomes that are important for organizations long term sustainability. Many OD initiatives are about setting an organizational culture and continuous improvements are common and OD teams can have a large effect on operational efficiencies. These teams can really focus their energies on empowering employees by eliminating traditional hierarchy across their organizations and fostering a culture of service that will help customer experience.

Without engaged employees, it is difficult to achieve high functional teams which are an outcome many OD teams strive for. Trust within teams and between teams is important in developing high functioning teams and often change can affect trust, so how do you foster change when needed without breaking trust? Building capacity for change takes time and change readiness is important in making sure teams can keep or build trust when change is occurring. Change initiatives can often be taxing on a team’s trust. Trust is often needed for agility and speed on teams and to build a high performing service-based culture focused on clients and customers.

OD plays a large role in facilitating organizational culture therefore often customer centricity initiatives are indirectly driven from OD. Even if OD teams are somewhat removed from day to day operations they often still instill the culture within the organization and to understand the voice of the customer (client/ stakeholder) you need to be willing to listen first. I have heard multiple times in my career that the customer “doesn’t know what they are talking about”. That “we are the experts” and the deliverable ends up being not what the customer wanted. Understanding the voice of the customer and the requirements that they are proposing is important in providing value as well in learning from past projects. OD teams can help build customer experience with processes and methods to instill a culture of listening and learning from customers and training across the organization to listen to the voice of the customer and their requirements.

Customer Experience (CX) is one of the largest drivers of change within organizations currently and it is a major strategy for service-based companies (I will talk about the growth of CX in another post). The demands of customers are growing and customers are easy to switch when there is a bad experience as brand loyalty is often only as good as their last experience. OD can be instrumental in capturing the voice of the customer and instilling a culture where the voice of the customer is a strategic priority within the organization is going to become increasingly more important as customer-obsessed organizations who personalize experiences will thrive and OD teams need to be ready to lead this change.

If you want extensive content on Organizational Development practice I highly suggest reading the book below:

http://amzn.in/c1jZATq

Or at minimum check out Dr. John Latham’s website:

https://organizationdesignstudio.com/

I am taking a break from blogging (just slowing down) as I focus on learning some programming languages and completing my MBA. Still, do not hesitate to reach out if you do want to connect.

More from Fahim Moledina – The CPA Fyre Festival: Flawed Examinations & Torturous Learning[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

 

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The CPA Fyre Festival: Flawed Examinations & Torturous Learning – Fahim Ekbal Moledina

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]I have questioned much of my formal learning recently in regards to not just the ROI but the tortuous nature of some exams. Recently I read about the CFE (CPA certification exam- Common Final Exam) that takes over two years to acquire but the exam is three days long and is fairly intense. I understand the need for an intensive process and training for any professional but at what point is this excessive. It seems like many professional associations currently are more interested in making sure they collect their money and also maximize their profits as they are not focused on teaching but maximizing their profit. This often means charging a high fee and in reality, do not measure the knowledge of the student. I will explain my positioning further in this post. The CPA recently had some issue with their CFE (Common Final Exam) it is a three-day ordeal that currently on average passes just below 80% of the writers. I have written exams much like this or in University had two to three-hour exams each day for 3 days which is fairly comparable. The issue here is often very accomplished individuals who are more than competent struggle on exams and often the competence on a subject cannot be measured on a three-day gruelling exam- I have met some incredibly bright people smarter than me who have failed exams and certifications that I have passed. Often these older organizations struggle with change. The CFE debacle has not been solved as students unfairly still had to write exams without appropriate resources as well as long waits of over 12 hours with minimal access to nourishment. It is disappointing that the CPA did not perform their due diligence in regards to QA testing for their CFE exam. Some basic best practices in regards to quality/ user testing would have probably solved the issues that occurred. The question is now with the CFE exam providing an unfair experience for students what will CPA do. It seems like not counting this attempt is a start but I know if I was a student and had put in all that time studying I would have been devastated being put in this situation:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]

The lack of exam integrity as the writer mentions is at best poor. The other items that are disgraceful are the lack of communication, humility and responsiveness from the CPA. As the majority of these individuals are young professionals my suggestion is for them to remember this and eventually push for changes. Being realistic about it there relationship with CPA currently is they are needing to be subservient due to trying to gain there credential. In reality when you article at a firm you are often working long hours on a salary where you end up making less per hour than 80% of administrative roles. Your earning potential is largely hampered until you “get your letters”. Therefore the amateurish attempt of applying the CFE exam changes cost these students a lot more than an attempt but time and future opportunities as well a choice to not be doggedly worked. The other issue here is some cities had a lot of issues while others had none so basically with double-blind testing at a national examination center which I think is a great standard but now the disadvantaged individuals are against others who had no issues. None of this has been addressed by the CPA except for hiring a firm to do an independent investigation. This will take time and not help the students that wrote and do not pass the CFE. There supposedly on the Reddit page was also an offer to defer exams if students chose but in reality, this is an unfair option to students who spent months studying only to do it over again. Some students question the ROI of a CPA and are wondering if an MBA is another option but these students have gone pretty far and will probably complete there CPA’s as they have invested a lot into them. In reality, this was a torturous exam that was made worse with the poor process and lack of due diligence.

My experience has always been nervousness, stress and some uncertainty with exams but at the same time, I always understood that exams were generally a necessity for a course. I question this now as I am not sure a traditional exam measures competence as much as people think. So back to the CFE- to become a CPA is fairly intense and a three-day exam seems excessive but the opposing view would be it weeds out individuals who might not be competent enough. I would argue a three-day exam is much like many of my university courses where I crammed a bunch of knowledge into my head and then proceeded the next month to forget it and create space for other knowledge. I will say there was a lot of room for improvement in my first learning experience I ran into some incredibly traditional learning with tenured professors teaching the same way they had for twenty years. Many University’s and professional designations are systemically structured to resist change internally while claiming and showing that they are open to change. In regards to competence, I ask if an individual did not know something they could research it and often figure out how to apply that knowledge. My personal opinion is the application of the knowledge is more important to test than the knowledge itself. Often open book exams and assignments, and presentations that can be prepared for are more realistic and practical. I have now been working in a leadership or administrative role for over fifteen years and realize the skill of writing an exam is something I have seldom used. Often it is simple to accept this and be socialized to do what you are told but we should be looking at our education system and asking if this is the best way to learn and re-evaluate learning. Many post-secondaries are trending in evaluating how people learn and also the mediums they use to teach. The traditional exam is losing traction to practical learning and assignments that are more real-life and application-based.

I also remember many of the exams I have written had options for courses to help you pass the exam. The course was not focused on teaching the skill or competency but completely focused on how to pass the exam. I have now come to realize that in the pursuit of knowledge instead of certifications I have become more satisfied with the content and skills I have gained. I commend many companies who share knowledge and provide training. Intel and Amazon now provide free AI and machine learning courses and Hubspot now has Hubspot University and if you are a marketer it has great training. There is much more offered in regards to free learning and organizations need to start looking at the value of this. I recently went to Prosci training and there was not an intensive exam but what Prosci did incredibly well was allow its students to apply the concepts to their real-world examples.

Some feeds from the CFE/ CPA exam are below:

‘Fyre Festival for accountants’: CPA Canada takes heat after national exams plagued by glitches

Edmonton Experience

CPA Negligence[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]Fahim Ekbal Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

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Staff Empowerment the Key To Organizational Speed

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Management and Executives are often afraid to let go of power and decision making. In working with very diverse companies and industries I have seen different levels of willingness to let go and empower staff underneath them to make decisions not just to keep at speed with consumers but also in making the highest-quality decisions. Many organizations can be highly bureaucratic and the organizational structure itself can often not lend itself to staff pushing basic decisions up hierarchically and this can lead to staff feeling like they are not empowered or not trusted. Leaders can also become content in making many of the decisions and often they are doing so not being the expert on the issues or decisions themselves.

 So the question becomes how do we change the culture and process in streamlining approvals, empowering and engaging staff. It is easy to implement a process and provide guidelines with an approval matrix but often it is not that simple, as in my experience if there is no trust with the staff or if leaders are not willing to delegate and trust colleagues and other staff with expertise in their areas it becomes difficult to stay afloat. I have seen many well-intentioned managers and executives become the blockage in approvals and often collateral can sit on the end of a desk when it is time-sensitive and the ROI dwindles as valuable work sits unapproved and not launched or implemented.

Change Management in regards to letting go of control for management and executives can be very difficult. Often executives and management want change but often do not want to change their actions themselves and this can often mean processes and operational speed can be held up in many of these cases. Time and again change management’s essential in changing culture and mindsets. Using influence to change actions of leadership and get them too often play the role of a servant leader and coach can help accelerate the maturity of an organization. Successfully changing leaders’ roles and mindset has been something I have taken pride in within my career to align them with goals and destinations that the organizations are focused on reaching.

Empowering the people with the most information and closest to issues to make decisions can help teams become more efficient and alleviate pressures from management. A great perspective of this was Captain David Marquet’s command of a nuclear submarine and his empowerment of his crew. In reality, the mind of one leader is not as strong as a whole team so it is, an organization leverages its employees. Captain Marquet’s video can be found below:

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The shift to empowering employees is one of the largest keys to developing speed and often efficiency. Leaders often feel like they need to take control to generate speed to market but this can often slow decision making while reducing efficiency and quality. Leaders often are best-served leveraging employees’ strength and helping build trust to empower the organization to help reach optimize their efficiency.

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Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

Fahim Ekbal Moledina

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Slowing Down to Speed Up- Fahim Moledina

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Agile business practice is all the rage currently. Management and executives want to do more with less and many believe in implementing agile business processes that they can reduce staff or increase throughput. At times this might be the case but often it is important to remember the point of agile is to put the customer satisfaction at the forefront. In stating all of this it is essential to think through changes strategically and understand the future state that is being driven towards. Often changing business practices to agile doesn’t speed up work at all but often can slow things down if staff and management are not trained and disjointed.

In my experience with agile journeys, it is important before jumping into agile processes to make sure sponsorship from executive and management is strong and they are actively engaged to provide support for initiatives. Often it is essential to gain alignment within the organization or department before intensifying agile processes. Agile journeys can often fail when laggards are in positions of power and have not bought into many of the steps forward as the journey is a culture change and not operational. Therefore alignment can often be gained with highlighting the benefits but also the limitations of agile. It is interesting that agile journeys can be done in iterations but in reality to a more defined project and change management plan can help in accelerating the value of agile methodologies.

Taking steps to team and organizational agility can be daunting and often organizations. Failure to slow down and look within can cause agile journeys to hit larger roadblocks. In agile journeys, it is important to look at workforce planning as well as overall strategies within the department including up-skilling staff, project management software suitability and multiple other factors to long to mention. It is also essential to communicate to stakeholders and staff as a failure to do so on next steps can cause a lack of engagement. As not communicating also sends a message which can reduce engagement holding back the agile mindset shift.

The word agile transformation is interesting in itself as the word transformation depicts that there is an end or destination but in reality the process of shifting to agile methodologies is a culture change that requires continuous improvement and iterations. But in moving forward with agile methodologies it is important to have a plan but important to slow down and look inward before implementing agile methods to accelerate agile methods and mindsets across organizations.

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Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

Fahim Ekbal Moledina

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The Desperation in Sales “Make a Customer Not a Sale”

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Sales are essential in many industries for growth and survival. It is often a key driver in most strategic initiatives and the role of sales becomes vital in reaching targets. In this desperation to meet targets salespeople often forget the lifetime customer value of making a customer versus making a sale. I recently had an experience where I was procuring services for training and assisting in operational strategy changes I was working on within my role. In narrowing down to three possibilities exploring further and selecting a solution provider we needed to make two difficult calls to tell people we went a different direction. The person we chose seemed mature and had told us whoever you choose of the three it is not a bad decision. The choice came down to price, experience and general perception of the fit with our organization. People were happy with the choice and it was a great fit that helped our culture and fundamentally changed how our department worked.

The two other conversations were very different in letting the other service providers down. The first one went well the individual thanked us for considering him and left the door open if we need anything to keep in touch and he had other services and a great attitude where I felt he could be a fit and we could work with him in the future. The next call went very differently as I got to the point that we had gone a different direction and the response I got was abrupt, desperate and close to disrespectful. The gentleman on the phone then went on to discredit his competition, while promoting his organization and brand and questioning our competency. Originally this organization in earlier calls had put down there competitors but had clearly shown their competitive advantage but at the same time gone way over our budget constraints for our full solution and put us in a situation when scoring procurement that we would be forced not to select them. The sales process with the third vendor seemed to be ok until they got desperate as we had made a decision they continued to push and question our competency in the selection. What the vendor did not know is we wanted to use them possibly for online training in the future but the desperation to make a sale changed our relationship and my perception of the company itself (reputation and brand).

The customer being at the center of the sales process is important in capturing the lifetime value of a customer. Even when a lead or a customer further in the funnel rejects you it is important to understand that there is a possibility to re-engage with the correct offering and desperation usually makes a customer step away. In some of my sales training in insight selling and other sales methodologies to getting a customer to a full solution a process or framework if often followed even when dealing with rejection. Just as many buyers buy from emotion, sellers can get into the same situation and react to emotion as well. In my experience seasoned sellers tend to follow a framework (often loosely), have high EQ and can read situations and people but foremost understand to be customer-centric no matter at what position they are in there sale. In doing so sales personnel help build a brand and reputation that becomes a valuable tool for large impact in future opportunities. Keep the conversation going and create a customer by evaluating where you can provide the customer value and provide the solution.

A great resource for common sales objections and handling is below:

https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/handling-common-sales-objections

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Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

Fahim Ekbal Moledina

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Customers First (Part 1)

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“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

– Henry Ford

More and more organizations are pushing to become customer-centric as consumers are expecting more and more personalization. Understanding your customers and future customers are becoming increasingly important in maintaining and growing market share. Still, for many organizations, they take this as “the customer is always right” but this is different than understanding the customer. Understanding the customer and target audience is becoming more and more important as building personas and understanding customers through empathy mapping is becoming essential not just in digital and web. User experience (UX) specialists and customer experience (CX) specialists are becoming leaders in organization that are successful as understanding the current customers for retention and future clients for growth is now essential for organizations looking to expand. Many organizations now are rushing out to digitalize there Rolodexes and step into CRM’s to capture customer data, others are struggling in getting the data for the CRM, and others are trying to figure out ways to leverage their customer data. There are many struggles currently in many organizations to drive to become customer centric and I will explore a few over my next posts.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey of trying to become a more customer-focused organization. The first step is often setting up a framework to understand how to capture data from your customers and what exactly is important to them. The first step to understand the client is to create empathy and by doing so really looking at things through the eyes of the customer. The next step can often be understanding all the touchpoints and tasks that customers engage in- this is important as well as providing a consistent experience across different mediums becomes important be it digital or with human interaction. The consistency of messaging and communication can help gain trust and build brand equity with customers or consumers. Listening to the voice of customers is important and eliciting and implementing feedback is also important but what I want to touch on in the rest of the post is the customer is not always right but needs to be listened to.

There is a quote above from Henry Ford

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Ford listened to his customers’ needs but what he did was solve their problem by listening and coming up with an innovative solution. In saying this sometimes the customer is not always right. So at what point do you listen to your customers and at what point do you understand their needs and provide insight to more complete solutions. I imagine Ford may have struggled a bit with the MAYA (most acceptable, yet advance) principle where the motor vehicle was pushed back against as it was too advanced for people, We see this occurring as it is difficult to accept certain technologies for people currently automated cars are difficult for a lot of people to trust and we have seen other technological advances where customers are laggards but now it is a part of the day to day.

Working in marketing and understanding client’s needs was always important but often clients did not know the best ways to reach their audience or the medium to be used even though they knew them more intimately. Sometimes becoming so aligned with your customers can take away creativity and not foster the best solution, so how do you continue to be high touch with a customer but show them the value that you can create that might not be fully aligned with what they want to do? The customer should be at the center of what you do but being able to provide them insight and really model their experience should not be dictated by the client or customer when often there is the expertise of this within the persons providing the product or service. Still in each situation, it is important to understand your customer and building personas, segmentation and micro-segmentation can help understand more on customers so actions are more informed. Another step is collecting data to provide more personalization, many consumers are buying from an emotional standpoint but it is often easier in understanding a customer and using that data to make it easier for them to purchase. Data and CX are very connected as data can be used to enhance the experience will increase the probability of a repeat customer and loyalty. Technology is not necessarily a solution but it is an enabler to help increase customer intimacy resulting in a more pleasant CX.

There are many steps that can be taken to greater customer experience (CX) one of many steps is listening to your customers and their feedback. Another step I will touch on a little in this post is developing a CX strategy that is clear and concise and can be implemented. The CX strategy should have statements that are guiding principles so frontline workers can truly implement them. Organizations like ATB (Alberta Treasury Branch) have done a great job in instilling guiding principles for their staff from the executive to the front-line they have ingrained this into their culture. These principles help drive an organization’s actions to truly implement a CX strategy the culture needs to follow and that often means change initiatives need to come to the forefront at organizations to truly provide consistent positive experiences.

How do you implement customer/ client feedback and do you put the user at the center of your business?

To read more on MAYA please see the link below as I will be going into more detail on this in a future post:

https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/design-for-the-future-but-balance-it-with-your-users-present

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Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

Fahim Ekbal Moledina

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Keeping the End in Mind (Public Relations)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]I recently watched an episode of The Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj and it focused on Canada specifically some of its policies and the guest was no other than Justin Trudeau. I suggest giving it a view.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/cDPeXoQUrbI” align=”center” image_poster_switch=”no”][vc_column_text text_larger=”no”]

In reality, my content will not focus on much of the episode but the lack of due diligence by the Prime Minister’s team to understand the messaging of the episode and how the Prime Minister would be portrayed. For me having experience in communications and some in PR (Public Relations) it confounded me that Trudeau’s team did not vet some of the messaging from the broadcast or at least understand it before it went live Not all publicity is good publicity as the episode highlighted the environment, Quebec’s secularism bill on religious symbols (legalized discrimination), and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia (support of genocide), Minhaj did not even get to step into the SNC scandal where the ethics commissioner found fault with Trudeau and his office as this news came out after Minhaj met with Trudeau. Moreover, Trudeau himself looked somewhat incompetent as he struggled to recognize world leaders which are his colleagues when you objectively think about it.

Minhaj eventually highlighted the fact that the challenger for the election Andrew Scheer and the conservative party probably are worse on every global issue and the conservative party labelled Green Peace as “violent extremists” when in power before the liberals so in regards to progressive global issues they did not have much of a stronger history. Providing all of this background I wanted to get back to the failure of Trudeau’s people in protecting him from the comedic journalism of Minhaj. This was just the Patriot Act Episode not to mention Trudeau’s India trip where he wore elaborate Indian costumes and posed. This would be much like Narendra Modi dressing up as a cowboy when he came to Canada. Not to mention the dinner invitation to the convicted terrorist and most recently the brown-face photos that were uncovered, I could continue with many more issues. Again a failure of the Prime Minister’s brand has been consistent it feels like since he got elected. Trudeau had large popularity and it seemed like he and his team could do no wrong early on and then it all started. Much of this cannot be laid at the feet of Trudeau’s PR team but what I mentioned above is almost indefensible. The PR and communication professionals I have worked with would have been adept enough to understand messaging and final products and at least been able to shield or control some narrative. It is disappointing to see the Trudeau brand which had so much promise early on after the election in 2015 but the brand was somewhat set up to disappoint as it has set incredibly high expectations. In reality, the Liberals need to gain ground now but this will be difficult as a broken brand takes time to fix and this is time that Trudeau and his team do not have.

The messaging in the Patriot Act episode was not well controlled by the Trudeau team. The diligence of Trudeau’s team in understanding the messaging was weak at best. Taking Minhaj’s obvious messaging for this episode it is surprising that nobody inquired or vetted final products before agreeing to have the episode released. In reality, repairing a brand and image will take significantly longer it would have been to protect it. The Trudeau team had many opportunities to stem the bleeding and settle things down and allow the Prime-Minister to lay low and not try to be a movie star but his advisers have failed him and the hole has become deeper. Probably a hole too big to climb out of with the constant brand-damaging stories when much of Trudeau’s teams positioning was branding him on being different than other politicians a progressive, a feminist, an ethical leader focused on environmental issues. The brand promises couldn’t be met and now the repercussions will be seen.

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Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

Fahim Ekbal Moledina

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Diversity in the Workplace- Lessons from Don Cherry

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So much is written on diversity in the workplace so it is often disheartening to see intolerance tolerated but at what point is there intolerance versus opinions and freedom of speech. In reality freedom of speech when representing an employer is tough as opinions of individuals can assist or severely hurt a brand’s reputation. Diversity in the workplace is powerful as it opens people to think differently and really challenges the way people do things when people are different. I recently worked in an environment where my skillset and views often differed from many of the other management team I worked with. I was also the only male on the management team for a large portion of my stay (another male temporarily filled a role for a maternity leave) and I was excited to be in another environment. My skill set allowed me to provide value almost immediately as I often my thought process differed from many of the other leaders as I came from a project management and process improvement background and much of the leadership came from the creative side. I am not saying they did not understand project or process management and I did not understand design or creative thinking but and our default way of approaching solutions to problems was often fundamentally different. Diversity really challenges people in the workplace and opens up there thinking and often challenges them. Inserting diversity into this team I definitely think helped the group but I will say there were times that I clearly was prejudiced against as well as the other male at times as comments were often made saying “oh boys”, or “it is cause you’re guys” and even told we were “mansplaining” at times- I did not think of anything of it at that time but started to understand acceptance of diversity goes farther than ethnicity as if any of this was said on race or disability or a man saying something like this to a woman it would not be accepted. Diversity brings many positives into workplace as ideas and decisions are often discussed and decided with more due diligence but also can bring more sensitivities as individuals are less alike and often agreement is more difficult to derive and it is important to understand and support consensus. (I will get into what consensus is in another post).

Currently, factors in the world today have led to a fairly sensitive environment where individuals representing employers do not necessarily have free speech as they represent the employer sometimes even outside of work as damage can be done to an employer if speaking even when not in work hours. So I would like to take a little bit of time to explore some recent developments and analyze some of the decisions taken in protecting brands as objectively as I can in regards to protecting diversity. Recently we have seen some comments made by Don Cherry that led to him being let go from his role in Coaches Corner. I am not writing to analyze Cherry’s comment but on the situation – the polarization and the comments made and the responses of individuals have really shown the divide and how polarized people are of their opinion and unwilling to listen. I am not here to defend or judge Cherry but I understand Sportsnet’s decision as a business and the risks to the brand and the decision to part with Cherry. Cherry did not apologize but did say he could have used different wording than “you people”- this is probably the first year I did not wear a poppy the truth is I was not out much and in a weird way had difficulty buying one I did put in some money into a veterans bin where poppies were but with a little one didn’t want a pin on me when holding a 9-month-old. I will be honest I felt guilty when and almost was unsure when I was out if I would be judged due to me obviously being ethnic after Cherry’s comments. What I am saying is Cherry’s comments did have an effect on a group of people if they like to admit it or not.

I have an outlook that people are inherently good and Cherry’s comments even though not out of character as he has made some controversial comments in the past. Many people will point to Cherry and say his comments were racist or bigoted and that he should have been let go. If we do look at this issue and people are honest with themselves Cherry said something that may have been controversial and even racist but for years he has been put in a box to entertain people and paid to say controversial statements. I have tuned into Coaches Corner before and in reality, most of it was to see Cherry’s opinion on controversial topics. The question is it fair for a company to elicit controversial responses of an employee and then terminate them when they step too far? I am not sure of the answer but the employer is often clearly as much at fault for not setting the culture and allowing Cherry to have years of what many would call discriminatory comments. The question is are we to blame as well the viewers who tune in and in reality sometimes help promote these comments? Cherry has in the past made disparaging remarks about European hockey players, French- Canadians,  indigenous groups, There are many people that are against Cherry vehemently and others that are supporting Cherry but many of the really polarized have taken this issue and brought many societal issues that they feel passionate about to express their political views at the forefront and really using Cherry as a martyr. Some of these same individuals have now consistently been claiming that white male Canadian’s are being treated as foreigners. I apologize but this is definitely stretching this issue as much like Obama being asked for a birth certificate you do not have to feel that at times you need to validate your national pride in Canada.

For 34 years Cherry was on the CBC where tax-payers dollars were used to support his views which definitely did not support diversity, “you people” and “come here” are difficult to defend but still if you continue to poke a tiger you eventually get bit. The poppy literally is a symbol to me of fighting intolerance and bigotry and it was weaponized by Cherry many feel to incite the same intolerance it stood against and was fought for. I truly respect people that know Cherry personally such as Bobby Orr and Terry Ryan that have come to Cherry’s aid. I do believe some diversity education for Cherry would have been great but I will get into this further in my next post on Thursday where I will further analyze some of the polarization and the dangers of this to not just the workplace but society. The one thing I do know is I am not sure is if what happened to Cherry was truly fair as he was compensated handsomely to be abrasive and state controversial things that some of his viewers were thinking. This time with the changing demographic he read the crowd wrong and paid for it. (He probably could have said something else bigoted and been fine). What we can learn from this is clear- when you represent your employer make sure you represent them with dignity and class, diversity is growing and is powerful. Finally, I feel I am in no position to judge Cherry but the power of mediums and media that are public-facing are powerful and can often be a double-edged sword.

Please check out my next post on Friday as well as I continue to speak to this topic and will integrate Jess Allen’s comments and Colin Kaepernick into some of what diversity the workplace and targeted marketing and branding.

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Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

Fahim Ekbal Moledina

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