Celebrating Canada

July 2, 2017

Well it’s official, our country is 150 years old.  When you look at this in global terms, we’re still the new kid on the block but we do punch above our weight!  Canada has a lot to offer to world, and we are re-gaining our place on the world stage.  But what about our past, can we look back and embrace all the truths that have brought us to this point?  We have made wonderful innovations in science, technology, and medicine to mention but a few, but we have also a history of racism and systematic exclusion of Native Canadians.  We are slowly coming to accept who we really are, acknowledging the scars and the accomplishments, and looking for ways to reach a true reconciliation among all Canadians, and for this I am extremely grateful. When we can hold up a mirror to ourselves and say with pride, that all people are treated well in Canada, all people are welcome, and all us together share a responsibility to make and keep this country as a beacon for others in the world to aspire to. When we can achieve this, we will be a nation reconciled with it’s entire history, a nation where we can move forward and lead the world to be a better place.

I am CANADIAN, and I am proud of who we are, warts and all, because I BELIEVE that we can be better, and I BELIEVE that all Canadians, working together can accomplish more than we’ve ever dreamed possible.

 

 

Advertisements

The Rear View Mirror – A Metaphorical Look at 2015

December 31, 2015

When driving a car, we constantly check the mirrors to see what’s around us and what’s behind us. The rear view mirror gives us information to judge, among other things, if there is a potential threat behind us, whether we are in the clear, or at some point in between. At the end of 2015, I feel that we are at that point in between.

Unlike the end of 2014, where we were facing another year under the Harper Conservatives, resplendent in their top down command and control government, 2015 sees a new hope, a potential new beginning (spoiler alert, I am a Trudeau supporter). One of the biggest changes I see with our new government is that we have a government that is trying to do the right thing, trying to work from the perspective of inclusiveness, trying to make Canada welcoming and a world-leading example of how people can live together and build a greater society. The key is they are trying. We have been subjected to many years of a government that has focused on the politics of fear and division. Politics that screamed “don’t trust them, they look different”; passed legislation to allow citizenship to be stripped, spying to occur, restrict science, and ban communication; refuse to recognize the tragedy that is ongoing with missing and murdered aboriginal women; promote oil and a resource based economy rather than investing in a real future for Canada; refuse to participate in climate talks globally; and the list goes on. Will the Liberal government result in Nirvana in Canada? Of course not, they will fumble and make mistakes as everyone does, but they are at least trying to make a positive difference.

So in the rear view mirror, I see a blue train fading into the distance, not gone but no longer an immediate threat, I see a red bus almost alongside and I when I look forward, I see the dawn breaking over a new Canada, a Canada that’s looking to its multicultural roots and one that embraces the challenges of the 21st century by trying to get people to work together. Will the government succeed? only if we support change. We cannot rely solely on government to resolve the issues of climate change, a weak economy, our role in fighting global injustice, and all the other issues surrounding Canada. Canadians, all Canadians, young and old, new and not so new, need to come together to find the way forward to make Canada a true light for the world.

Happy Canada Day 2015

July 1, 2015

It’s been a week of touring our hometown with family from out east.  From sky to sea, from Grouse Mountain overlooking Vancouver to Gibson’s (think “Beachcombers”)  by sailboat.  It reminded me of all the wonderful things that make up Canada; the beauty, the diversity, and the absolutely wonderful people.  That we can experience this all across Canada, in different ways, makes this country special.

As a country we have much to reflect on this year as we move into an uncertain future.  We have an opportunity to take the lead on climate change and climate science.  We can continue to work to build a fair and diverse society that balances the rights and freedoms of every Canadian to live well.  We also have to face the challenges of how we support the rights of freedoms of other peoples in other countries.  Do we build bridges, or blow them up, do we move towards being the aggressor or rebuild our role as peacemaker and peacekeeper?

These are the choices we must wrestle with in the coming year and by Canada 2016 we can once again look back and see the results of the work we do together.

Canada – True North Strong and FREE

Oh Canada!

April 2, 2015

I’ve been lucky enough to take the past week off to do some sailing and take time to think about what has been happening recently in Canada and the rest of the world. I was encouraged when the Green Party Leader Elizabeth May presented over 60 amendments for consideration by the House public safety committee. Several additional amendment’s from the both the NDP and Liberals, along with testimony of over 50 witnesses over left a glimmer of hope that C51 would be amended to provide the security we need but not at the price of civil liberty and Canadian freedom. What we ended up with however were a very few amendments presented by the conservative party that addressed a few of the issues but still left us with a bill that is likely unconstitutional and leaves open a broad interpretation that allows gives significant power to CSIS to act inside Canada. For a  fair analysis of C51 see the article by The Walrus (http://thewalrus.ca/bill-c-51-the-good-the-bad-and-the-truly-ugly/) . The parliamentary process should be about democracy, with the committee structure there to provide the inputs of the representatives ALL Canadians, not just the party in power, who after all, represent barely 50% of the population of this wonderful country.

While all of this is going on, the Government also pushed through the extension of the military mission in the middle east and extended the mission to include bombing inside the sovereign state of Syria. We used to be a country that stood for international law, and now we are preparing to bomb another country, under a pretext that ISIL has declared war on Canada and they are in Syria (among other countries) so we have the right to bomb them. By that logic, if there were a confirmed ISIL presence in any country, we would have the right to bomb that country as well.

The world is facing significant challenges and threats to safety and liberty. Canada is a country that has always stood on the side of international law and humanitarian action.   Our current Prime Minister has put our history behind us, suggesting that rural Canadian should arm themselves for personal safety, ignoring calls for an enquiry into missing aboriginal woman, putting our underfunded and small military forces in harms way when in reality, our few planes are but a flyspeck in the grand scheme of military action, but a great chest beating opportunity for Harper and his fellow hawks.

With the lack of attention to missing and abused aboriginal woman, our economy sliding to recession, inflation increasing, why not spend some time looking at some of the key issues that define us as country, where we value people, and try and build a positive future.

Oh Canada, I am ashamed of us, we can do better, and we must do better. Lets be the great Canada we can be and embrace core Canadian values of helping others, coming to their aid with humanitarian support, and focusing efforts internally to make a just and liveable place for all Canadians to live and thrive.

Shareholder vs. Stakeholder Value

June 10, 2014

We hear a lot about CEO pay being explained by the fact that they’ve increased shareholder value for the organizations they lead but what about stakeholder value?

Shareholders in an organization are only one of the stakeholder groups that corporations need to focus on and arguably they are not even the most important group of stakeholders.  That title goes to the people who create, manage, and deliver products and services and the support staff that make sure that invoices are sent out and tracked, payments are processed, logistics programs run efficiently, etc.  In other words, the employees!  What about the other key group of stakeholders, the community(s) where corporations operate.  The services that support the physical infrastructure that allow corporations to operate are supported in part by local ratepayers, local, regional, and federal governments.  These are all key stakeholder groups that corporations need to focus on and hence increase the value they provide to them.

I’ve been reading an increasing number of articles about the top 1% in North America and the ratio of CEO compensation to average worker pay.  The numbers are staggering, as has already been well reported.  According to a Bloomburg report published April 30 2013, the ratios range from JC Penny’s CEO at a staggering ratio of 1795:1 (the worst offender) to Family Dollar Stores at 176:1 (in 244th position).  Tied to this are the reports that show that many minimum wage workers and lower paid workers are dependent on government assistance programs and other forms of community and social support.  So while executives focus on increasing shareholder value by increasing profits, the employees who deliver that value are not reaping the rewards and are in turn supported by the government to survive.  Effectively, profitable corporations are profitable, in part, because they are supported by taxpayers.

These are unsustainable practices at the societal level.  Economic, community and environmental sustainability can not exist in this type of environment where one small portion of society, the “1%”, control a hugely disproportionate amount of wealth.  As a society, we can not allow this situation to continue.  What if instead of corporations share value being measured based on the balance sheet, the measurements also include indicators of how many people employed require public assistance to survive.  Better still, if government truly supports the idea of a sustainable society, tax corporations an amount in excess of what is paid out to support their workers because of low wages and lack of benefits.  People that buy the products and services produced by these corporations, whether consumers or other businesses, need to insist on changes to how companies operate.  Sustainable business management is about creating value for all stakeholders of an organization, not just one small group of shareholders.

Teachers vs. Government in British Columbia – Really, is this the best we can do?

May 27, 2014

Once again in British Columbia Canada, the teachers are holding a series of rotating walkouts and the only ones being harmed by this are the students.  Once again the rhetoric is flying fast and furious from both sides, each accusing the other of creating the conditions where the teachers were left with “no choice” but to walk off the job.  Quite frankly this is complete and utter bullshit and both government and teachers should take a step back and look at what they are doing to the future generation.  Of course the teachers had a choice, and they chose to once again sacrifice the students best interests for their own.  Yes, people will say that they are trying to make it better for the future, but what about the impacts on students today.  And lets not forget the government in all of this.  Their chosen adversarial stance against the teachers union provides a wonderful backdrop for the union to take a stand against the evil politicians.  Lest we all forget, this is the government elected by popular vote by the citizens of this province.  So lets now all provide the current generation a strong lesson, or in this case a series of lessons where they learn that in order to get their way, they essentially throw down their toys and sulk.  This is the adult equivalent of a 2 year old’s tantrum in the middle of a supermarket!

Yes, I am using provocative language because I believe the only way to get through to both sides is to create a context where they can see that what they are doing is of absolutely no value whatsoever.  If the teachers union and the government had the best interests of the students in mind, as both claim they do, then go back to work, with no conditions, and bring in an independent arbiter, whose decision is final, to close the issue.  The union will not get all they demand, the government may end up paying more than they want.  Tough shit, that’s called negotiation.  If either side then takes further action, sanctions should be imposed and fines levied, on both union and government.

Enough is enough.  It’s time to create lasting peace, a sustainable solution, between government and teachers, and if it has to supported by sanctions and fines, so be it, whatever it takes.  This issue has been going for all to many years, and we need to fix it once and for all so once again…..

Seriously fellow British Columbian’s, is this the best we can do?

Evolution or Revolution? The path to living with climate change

May 26, 2014

There is an old curse “may you live in interesting times”. I find myself reflecting on this more and more as we move through 2014. I find it interesting that there are still people who strongly believe that climate change is not real and everything will be just fine. Also interesting is that there are others who have told me, bluntly, that I shouldn’t worry about running out of fresh water or having clean air to breathe because “they, it, etc.” won’t let it happen.  Whatever the view or rationalization of those who deny that human kind has altered the planet, the fact remains that climate change is real and we need to do something about it!

With the recent release of the reports on the environment from the UN, we know that it is possible to mitigate the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere if we act now.   Unfortunately we, as in society as a whole, will not act now. We are still in the age where science is treated with disbelief, fear, and superstition, much as it has been throughout recorded history. One of the challenges with science, is that we tend to idolize actors, musicians, sports figures, forgetting that scientists are highly educated, dedicated, and passionate about their work. There is a great blog about this <here>. Regardless of the reasons, the groups that deny climate change are powerful and spend a lot of money denying there is a problem. So what do the rest of us do?

There are many great things happening around the world to address issues surrounding climate and the effects of climate change.   Solar and wind energy costs have reduced to the point where it’s now more cost effective to create power using the sun than with oil and other fossil fuels. Tidal generation research is yielding results and there is a grass roots awareness that something must happen. These are the evolutionary steps in the addressing climate change. The challenge with evolution is that, while effective, it is also slow and measured. Evolution, on it’s own, is not going to solve the problems we are faced with now.

Consider the following points:

1)   Globally we consume more than one and a half times what the earth is capable of producing and this number is growing. We can not sustain this level of consumption

2)   Wealth is hoarded and concentrated in a very few individuals worldwide. The income gap is growing and more and more people are being marginalized

3)   Politicians are influenced more by corporations than by individual citizens. Corporate tax rates are falling while corporate profits are increasing globally.

The question now becomes one of how will we survive this confluence of factors. Can we realistically rely on our traditional forms of government to lead the way?   How do we change the world? If there is one thing history teaches us, it’s that there is no change without massive upheaval. Globally we are at a crossroads. If we continue down the current path, we will be living with accelerating effects of climate change; floods, droughts, severe weather, shifting climate zones, dwindling fresh water reserves, to name but a few. If we act now, in a major way, we will likely see economic upheaval in the short term, but a functional and stable society in the future.

There has been a lot of talk and articles written about what needs to be done. The time to take concrete action is absolutely right now. For example 74% of respondents to a recent poll in British Columbia Canada indicated that they want the government to focus more on renewable energy and less on fossil fuels. If the government listens and takes bold steps to move away form supporting the fossil fuel industry we will see revolutionary change.

Will you make your voice heard?

Quality and Cost Relationship

July 31, 2012

Like all of us, I got sidetracked while doing some online research earlier today by a discussion on quality. I ran across an interesting tidbit that summarizes Deming’s philosophy as:

Quality = Results of work Efforts / Total Costs

The implications are profoundly simple:
1) A focus on quality will, over time, reduce costs
2) A focus on reducing costs, will over time decrease quality

What I see many organizations focusing on now is both a reduction in Costs with an increased focus on Quality with the expected result that the Result of Work Efforts will increase. Unless there is a huge increase in quality, there will be no change in the Results, as the product of reduced cost will negate the quality improvements.

Bottom line, Quality comes with a price, not always financial and focus on quality will yield far more long term results than a focus on cost reduction

Nationwide stop the texts day!

May 1, 2012

Help “Stop the Texts. Stop The Wrecks.” on the First Nationwide Stop the Texts Day

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving is the number one killer of teens in America. In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed and an additional 416,000 were injured due to distracted driving, which includes texting while driving.

Despite this very risky behavior, a new national survey from the Ad Council found that sixty percent of young adults (age 16 – 24) said they have texted while driving. A majority of them said they will continue to do so even with the knowledge that texting while driving can seriously injure or kill others and/or themselves!

Most notably, the survey asked young adults what would be the most effective way(s) to encourage them not to text while driving.

• Eighty-eight percent said a law against this would encourage them to completely stop or be less likely to text while driving.
• The vast majority, ninety-six percent said large fines, a suspended license and/or jail time, higher insurance rates, and other financial / legal consequences would also encourage them not to text while driving.
• The survey also revealed that friends and parents would be the most influential people in getting them to choose not to text and drive.

To help address this epidemic, the Ad Council, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the State Attorneys General and Consumer Protection Agencies are hosting the first nationwide Stop The Texts Day today to spread awareness about the risks of distracted driving. The goal of this day is to extend the message of their “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.” youth texting and driving prevention public service advertising campaign via social media channels (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) in an effort to educate young drivers about the risks of texting while driving.

To participate, supporters are invited to share status updates from the campaign’s Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the day on why texting while driving is such a risky behavior. Additionally, supporters can write an open letter to young adults imploring them to not text while driving on the campaign Tumblr page. A complete toolkit for Stop the Texts Day is also available to provide additional ways the public can participate.

Your participation can go a long way!

Sustainability Project Management

January 15, 2012

For the past year or so, I’ve been working with colleagues around the world to define how to manage projects in  organizations that have adopted sustainability practices.  While there is a lot of information on different sustainability measures and programs, there is practically nothing on how to work with sustainable practices and integrate them into the delivery or new products and services.  I’m happy to say that there is now a framework that project managers can use to define, manage and report on sustainability within their projects.  Based on the principles of the IISPM (IISPM.ORG), the guide titled “Making Sense of Sustainability Project Management” identifies key areas of focus on planning, managing information and risk, governance and reporting for sustainability project management.  In it’s entirety, it can be seen as an additional knowledge area supporting the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).  Check it out at Amazon.com