“ We believe in investing in our people and we have engaged several firms to help us do that. I must admit that none of them have had the positive impact that FOCUS has, in such a short period of time. FOCUS facilitated results are pragmatic and can  immediately put to work to increase productivity and quality as the team gets stronger. And they did that WITH our people who really liked the FOCUS approach. We will continue to work with FOCUS as we grow our organization”  Richard Cupido, President and Owner, Burlington Paving
“We lean on Richard Gerofsky, Partner at FOCUS to help develop our strategic roadmap. Richard’s sound counsel, useful guidance and effective facilitation enabled Mayhew to think strategically, keeping steadfastly committed to our corporate vision and strategic objectives.  Richard is a key asset around the Mayhew boardroom table, and considered an extension of our Executive team.” Marcia Mayhew, CEO, Mayhew
Good things last.  I was recently asked to speak in New York, to an international group of chief librarians from major urban centres from around the world. They share innovative efforts and the results annually. The core of my presentation was about  a strategic planning and alignment system that Fred and his team at FOCUS Management facilitated  at the Mississauga Library System, 15 years ago!  The process was robust, rigorous and collaborative in nature and Ahead…Mississauga Library System
“FOCUS is able to hone in on the most important strategic initiatives and gain a level of engagement and alignment across the organization. They deliver real results. I believe in the people. I believe in the product.”Craig Gilpin, CCO, North West
“We have certainly come a long way in a short period of time.  Recently, we won an award for the best performing energy efficient homes in North America.  The Focus Management Team, Fred, Richard and Stephen, have become a part of the L!V Communities Team, working with us to create better communication, clarity and alignment.  Our team is now focussed on what really matters and that’s what generates results that our customers expect and deserve.”Anthony Martelli, Chief Operating Officer L!V Communities
Telecom Triumph
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Top Ten Reasons Strategies Fail
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The Do-It-Yourselfers’ Dilemma


A colleague of mine had a recent conversation with a new client. This client had, for several years, facilitated the annual operational planning process with his (fairly small) organization. Although he was generally fairly happy with the outcome, he often felt conflicted during the process when playing the roles of both facilitator and team leader. As he put it, “I felt as though I had one cheek in my chair at the table and the other one at the front of the room.” He found it difficult to maintain either role effectively and it made him feel as though he wasn’t able to give his best effort. It was frustrating at times and might have affected the quality of the team’s discussion and decisions.


His experience was by no means unique. I believe most of us have the “DIY gene” in our makeup – it’s just a question of the degree to which it influences the choices we make. Its influence over us is amplified, or diminished, I think, by a number of factors:


1. Our energy level and capacity to take on the task.


2. Our understanding of the problem or situation.


3. Our ability to access the tools and techniques needed to perform the task.


4. Our access to funding (or conversely, the inherent frugality of our nature).


5. Our ego.


I want to do some more thinking on how these have played out in my professional experience, and will write about them in future entries. For now, let me cite a personal example from my own distant past…


My first car, a little front-drive sedan, took its fair share of abuse – this from a lethal combination of spirited driving and questionable judgment. Needless to say, this led to a string of minor mechanical issues; and then, finally, the show-stopper. A ball joint in the front suspension had worn to the point where failure was imminent – and failure would have catastrophic consequences if it occurred while the car was in motion. This had to be fixed, and soon. So, to review the list of DIY factors above, I had:


1. Time and energy a-plenty. It was summer, I was out of school and had lots of free time on the weekends.


2. A sympathetic mechanic, who explained what was damaged and showed me a shop drawing of the components. (This was WAY before the internet, and access to information was a whole different game back then!)


3. A jack, a drill, a hammer and a long list of expletives for when the going got tough.


4. A shortage of cash (I was a student, and summer wages paid for parts – barely – but not labour).


5. Absolutely no sense of where the boundaries of my capabilities might lie. This led to unfounded optimism and confidence (and, perhaps, the aforementioned questionable judgment).


I did it. Myself. It took me an entire afternoon (a properly equipped and trained mechanic would have completed the job in about an hour or less). I felt great self-satisfaction when the work was done (see #5, above).


Was the job any good? Well, it held together as long as I needed it to. Six months later the vehicle was written off when a driver slid through a stop sign and smashed into my car, which subsequently head-butted a very stout tree. On several counts, I think fortune smiled on me. No injuries, and no adverse consequences from my inadequacies as a backyard mechanic.


Would I do it again, today?


Let me get back to you on that.

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