Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Business Ethics revisited

The Chief Executive of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, John Scott has resigned after accepting gifts and hospitality from potential suppliers - see here.

I have no idea of the extent of these gifts, or hospitality - only one instance is referred to by the BBC article. However after the problems in Dehli in 2010 it is essential that 2014 is squeeky clean. Glasgow has had a bad image in the past for perceived public sector corruption, and 2014 will need to ensure that the highest possible standards are met in order to overcome that image. Whether it is deserved or not, is not the point. The point is that the Games are to showcase Glasgow, and to a lesser extent Scotland and the rest of the UK, and therefore need to able to come through repeated and intense scrutiny with no blemishes.

This is difficult because the process of identifying sponsors requires a great deal of "shmoozing" and relationship building to encourage the sponsors to contribute hard cash. However the line between sponsors, supporters and suppliers can be quite blurred in major sporting events - and companies move from being one to being another quite often.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this particular case it was right for John Scott to go - regardless of his past contribution to the Games, in the future he media would not let go of this incident, and would concentrate on identifying other potential wrong doing. The contagion has to stop at the first point.

The fact that with a year to go before the London 2012 Olympics we are not seeing this sort of story about them is testiment to their hard work in establishing and maintaining standards of business ethics. But many a slip between cup and lip.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Attitude of big business to SMEs

Link here is an article by Robert Craven outlining his personal frustration at being treated by other businesses as an amorphous type of client called an "SME". He makes a number of very reasonable points about wanted to be treated as an individual or individual business rather than an income stream to be exploited.

During my seminars this is a consistent theme - that government (not too surprisingly) and large business (more surprisingly) do not really understand owner managed, and small businesses. It may be a lot of effort to do so, but there are real upsides if you can. Many, though not all, small businesses seek success through Customer Intimacy rather than innovation or operational excellence (see Weirsma and Tracey for details). They expect that their suppliers should treat them in the same way.

Interestingly our partners at TBR recently published a paper on employment and small businesses. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the high growth companies that are the drivers of employment in the UK, but the myriad small start ups - particularly those employing 5 to 20 people. Now that is an attractive market - but it needs to be approached in the right way. These companies are not miniture multi-nationals, and in most cases do not seek to become them.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Basics of Business - Ethics Part 2

I had the interesting experience of running a course in Qatar duing the FIFA election debacle, in which one candidate Sheikh Bin Hamman of Qatar was suspended ensuring another unopposed election for Sepp Blatter.

The whole election, and previously the award of the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, was mired in allegations of corruption, brown envelopes and people putting their own interests ahead of the organisation. Qatar was accused of "buying" the World Cup, though the precise meaning of that phrase was disputed.

In the UK we watched with rightous indignation, and a certain fury, as we saw evidence that our bid for the World Cup in 2018 had been ignored by FIFA because the FA had refused to offer "sweetners". This may have been the case - certainly there had been accusations of corruption at FIFA for many years, and surely the FA were aware of that before the fact.

It may be salutary though, as we pride ourselves on our incorruptable British nature, that Qatar actually ranks above the UK (i.e. better) in the Transparency International Perceptions of Corruption index - see here. Only one rank, but still - Qatar has been improving its score, whilst the UK has been showing considerable decline with the score (out of 10) declining from 8.3 in 2003 to 7.6 in 2010.

This index looks at perceptions of the public sector, and as always you can argue with the methodology and scoring - and the UK is still 20 out of 186 nations, and above the USA (22nd). However it is a worrying trend, and if continued could lead to an erosion of trust in the public sector and public sector procurement in particular. Which is not in our national interest.

Further courses

A couple of additional events to add to your diary or not.

On Tuesday 29th June I shall be presenting two half day events for BIPS Solutions at the Manchester Victoria and Albert Marriot hotel. These are workshop 3 on Writing effective Tenders, and Workshop 4 on Partnering with others. Details here and here.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Upcoming courses

Making it Happen - an Introduction to Project Management seemed to be well received, and after we have evaluated the feedback I am optimistic that we shall be running further courses later in the year. Hopefully around the country rather than just in London. Further details as and when.

In the meantime, I have been remiss in noting a number of courses that I have been running recently. Obviously I am too late for recent courses in Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Qatar (my air miles are going up, but so is my carbon footprint) but here are a few forthcoming events.

Strategic Purchasing and Supply Management, a 5 day event in Amsterdam for Aztech, Monday 20th June to 24th June - click here. A bit short notice, but we probably have room if you can book in time.

Free Procurement Training Event - London 2012 and the Olympic Games, run by Business Link West Midlands, 30th June in North Staffordshire = click here. This is probably the last of these free half day sessions organised by BIP Solutions, so it could be your last chance. And it is free. What more could you ask?

The 5 day Purchasing MBA in Vienna 11th to 15th July, - click here.

The Complete course on Purchasing Management, in London 18th to 22nd July click here.

Hope to see you at one of these events

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Making it Happen - an Introduction to Project Management

On behalf of BIPSolutions, I shall be running an event on Tuesday 14th June at the London Hyde Park Hilton called "Making it Happen - an introduction to Project Management". Details are here.

Obviously in one day I cannot cover all of the issues that can arise in Project Management, but in these times of change and uncertainty the requirement for planning increases. And the pressure to "just get on with it" also increases. As do the consequences of projects going wrong. So I hope this is a one day investment that will pay back manyfold.

Currently the delegates are mostly from the private sector, but we are keen to attract people from the public sector as well (if they have the budget of course).