by Richard Martin

North Korea is launching rockets and testing nuclear bombs. The Trump administration wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Populist parties are being elected or getting closer to power every week. Terrorists are on a rampage. Countries that had democratized in recent decades are increasingly assuming the trappings of autocracy. Nations and ethnic groups around the world are closing themselves to trade and integration, while economic and political migrants cross the Mediterranean into Europe and thence, to North America and Australia. Environmental degradation is rampant as global temperatures rise and ice melts.

Given all this, it’s easy to fall prey to the idea that the world is in a worse state than ever. There is supposedly an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “May you live in interesting times.” Sure, but isn’t this all a bit much? Aren’t we in grave danger? One of my daughters is stressed out by all the chaos and cacophony!

Well, a little context and comparison helps. As the French proverb goes, “Quand on se regarde on se désole; quand on se compare on se console.” (When we look at ourselves we get discouraged, but when we compare ourselves we are encouraged.) Consider the following:

  • There have never been so few deaths from warfare. By comparison, it is estimated that over 80 million people, possibly up to 100 million, died during the long “Thirty Years War” of 1914-1945.
  • Communist revolutions (and counter-revolutions) and regimes caused the deaths of 60-100 million from civil war, brutal government, imprisonment, “reeducation,” famine, and general underdevelopment.
  • We worry and prepare for a global pandemic. I’m all for planning and preparation against that threat. But let’s not forget that the Spanish Flu of 1918-20 killed between 50 and 100 million, at least 3 % of the world’s population at that time. The Black Death in the 14th century wiped out between one third and half of the Eurasian population. The discovery and conquest of the Americas by European explorers and powers destroyed 90-95 % of aboriginal populations. The Ebola epidemic in Africa was a tragedy and killed several tens of thousands in central and west Africa. But it only lasted a short period of time, treatments were quickly found due to an unprecedented push to find vaccines and palliative measures, and the international community donated millions to fight the threat. It’s still present, but global monitoring, prevention, and mitigation are keeping it in check.
  • Life expectancy around the world (with a few notable exceptions, such as post-Soviet Russia) has been on the rise steadily since the 1950s, and is at its highest level ever. Both my grandmothers bore a dozen children, but only half reached adulthood. Cancer and heart disease are among the leading causes of illness and death now in the West. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are growing by leaps and bounds. This is alarming, but these are all actually diseases of aging, and their increase is due to long life expectancies we now take for granted. After all, we have to die of something.
  • The poorest people in developed countries now have routine access to health care, reasonably good public education from pre-kindergarten to grade 12, clean drinking water, air conditioning, public transit (though not necessarily convenient), relative public safety, and non-intrusive government bureaucracy (with some notable exceptions).
  • There are fewer relative and absolute numbers of people living in absolute poverty in the world now than 10, 20, and 30 years ago. Population numbers keep rising, but growth is flattening as various countries cross the demographic transition to smaller families.

I could go on and on with this listing. All I’m arguing is that, yes, there are some nasty things going on around the world. But in at least some areas, things have never been better.

I don’t want to come across as an unbridled optimist, saying that “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” (Attributed to Leibniz to explain God’s seeming non-involvement in the world.) On the other hand, we shouldn’t gripe and worry without reason. We have the resources and know how to prevent many catastrophes and fix many problems. That’s the essence of readiness, and it is fuelled by unparalleled prosperity, science, and peacefulness. Let’s hope these continue.

New Testimonial

“Richard has been instrumental in getting me to draw on my hard-won experience and ideas to turn them into marketable intellectual property and products. His disciplined, systematic approach has already led to several significant accomplishments for me. Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, or working to get to the next level, Richard can boost your productivity and organizational effectiveness. Be forewarned, though. There is no magic formula, just systematic thinking, disciplined execution, and… Richard Martin.”

Caroline Salette, Owner and President, RE/MAX Royal Jordan Inc. and Salette Group Inc. 

Richard Martin’s Business Readiness Process:

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Contact me to apply the whole thing–or just a piece, as needed–to improve your strategy, your readiness… and your results!

Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?

Why Sunday and What Does “Stand To” Mean?

Sunday? I want you to get my insights and advice first and fast, so you can prepare and up your readiness and results before others even know what’s happening!

And Stand To? It’s the order used in the military to get forces to man the parapets and be in a heightened state of situational awareness and, yes, readiness, so they can face any threat or undertake any mission.

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

by Richard Martin

I had a conversation last week with a former client of mine. Apparently, things are going extremely well for him and his organization. That’s a good thing. He seemed very confident of how well he and his management team were doing.

However, I got the impression that he was also a bit smug about it. I congratulated him on his great results. However, I also asked him what proportion of that performance was attributable to him and his team, and what proportion to an excellent business environment. While he acknowledged the outstanding circumstances and good luck, his body language told me a different story. It screamed “Why is this guy harshing my mellow?”

There’s a difference between confidence and smugness. Confidence is a belief in your abilities and experiences. It stems from self-efficacy, the knowledge that you can achieve certain things well, and have a command of certain skills and resources. However, it also incorporates a good dosage of humility and a questioning mindset. I listened to a radio interview with the new head coach of the Montreal Alouettes last week, Jacques Chapdelaine. He pointed out the same thing: Confidence must be counterbalanced by humility, the understanding that you are facing a thinking opponent whom you must respect, and that you might not have everything figured out. There is also uncertainty, and you can only deal with probabilities, never with inevitabilities.

Smugness, on the other hand, is the belief that you have it all figured out and that you are on top of the game now and for the foreseeable future. An important manifestation of smugness is the belief that you have gotten what you deserve, that your position and performance are the fruits of your efforts and that luck or particularly favourable conditions have little to do with your success. This means that luck (bad and good) are not on your radar screen. It’s all blue skies ahead.

The key to confidence is to build competency and to learn from experience. Don’t take things for granted. In a nutshell, prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Even more important, though, is to appreciate the role of luck and uncertainty in all situations, whether you are the beneficiary or not. That’s where humility comes in. Humility isn’t self-deprecation–false or honest–it’s the genuine appreciation that you don’t know everything, and can’t know. It provides the only effective counterweight to smugness and false certainty.

New Testimonial

“Richard has been instrumental in getting me to draw on my hard-won experience and ideas to turn them into marketable intellectual property and products. His disciplined, systematic approach has already led to several significant accomplishments for me. Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, or working to get to the next level, Richard can boost your productivity and organizational effectiveness. Be forewarned, though. There is no magic formula, just systematic thinking, disciplined execution, and… Richard Martin.”

Caroline Salette, Owner and President, RE/MAX Royal Jordan Inc. and Salette Group Inc.

Richard Martin’s Business Readiness Process:

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Contact me to apply the whole thing–or just a piece, as needed–to improve your strategy, your readiness… and your results!

Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?

Why Sunday and What Does “Stand To” Mean?

Sunday? I want you to get my insights and advice first and fast, so you can prepare and up your readiness and results before others even know what’s happening!

And Stand To? It’s the order used in the military to get forces to man the parapets and be in a heightened state of situational awareness and, yes, readiness, so they can face any threat or undertake any mission.

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

By Richard Martin, President, Alcera Consulting Inc.

Industrial know how is a form of innovation and technology. In fact, this is the main reason that the Allies were able to prevail in World War 2 and achieve total victory over the Third Reich and Imperial Japan.

Think of the standardized Liberty supply ships from the US; almost 3,000 were built. The B29 was the most advanced aircraft of the war, with a remote-controlled tail gun and the ability to fly higher than any other manned aircraft on any side of the war. They were manufactured in the thousands (almost 4,000)! And what about everything else? The Manhattan Project, canned rations, freeze dried coffee, medical techniques and technology, logistics and operational research, the jeep, landing craft, amphibious vehicles, computers, decryption/encryption technology and methods, etc., etc.

The Sherman tank epitomizes US ingenuity and industrial innovativeness. It was manufactured in numerous versions depending on the manufacturer’s production methods. For instance, if a factory worked with welded plate steel, there was a version it could build; if it specialized in foundry, there was a version for that. I remember seeing a version of the Sherman engine that was really two Chrysler engines bolted together. Almost 50,000 Sherman tanks were built in the US during the war.

The Germans never even came close to that level of production capability and industrial know how. Add in the Soviets’ ability to mass produce simple but effective weapons and you can see that the Third Reich was doomed. That’s why the Germans were obsessed with “lightning” war. They had to win quickly and commandeer the resources of all Europe if they hoped to have a chance of winning.

Unsurprisingly, the German war economy was a chaotic mix of competing interests and fiefdoms. I read somewhere that the economy was never put on a full war footing until late 1942, when Speer took over armaments production. Moreover, there were multiple projects competing for limited resources. For instance, the Germans never decided on a standardized tank design like the western Allies (Sherman) and the Soviets (T34). This greatly complicated production and logistics. Moreover, German designs were technically very advanced, but also relatively fragile, difficult to maintain, and complex to manufacture. On the other hand, the Germans produced the first cruise missile (V1) and the first ever ballistic missile (V2). However, they relied too much on such “super” weapons that would supposedly win the war in one fell swoop by demoralizing or terrorizing the enemy.

As for the Japanese, their mindset was warped beyond comprehension by the Bushido warrior code of honour and loyalty. Witness the kamikaze concept. While the Germans and Allies were focused on minimizing their own casualties (for the latter, as long as they were useful to the war effort), the Japanese were sending their brave young men to certain death.

© 2017 Richard Martin. Reproduction and forwarding allowed for non-commercial purposes.

By Richard Martin

The current flooding in southern and western Quebec, as well as eastern Ontario and NB is bringing out once again the critical importance of CRISIS LEADERSHIP. That’s right, not just crisis management and crisis communications, but crisis leadership.

Leadership Principles During Crisis

  1. Take charge of the situation.
  2. Recognize what is happening.
  3. Confirm information before reacting.
  4. Maintain situational awareness.
  5. Lead from the front while leverage individual and collective initiative and motivation.
  6. Implement contingency plans and procedures immediately while initiating deliberate decision-making about the next steps.
  7. Continue planning ahead.
  8. Act, assess, and adjust.
  9. Care for yourself and for your subordinates.
  10. Maintain morale and cohesion within your team or organization.

Techniques for Ensuring Welfare of Others and Yourself

  1. Be visible and present.
  2. Communicate and inquire.
  3. Provide creature comforts at least to survive.
  4. Force rest and recuperation.
  5. Establish routines and schedules.
  6. Establish clear chain of command.
  7. Watch for exhaustion, anxiety, distress.

Signs That Morale Is Good

  1. Optimism
  2. Realism
  3. Cooperation and mutual aid
  4. Hard work and sacrifices
  5. Constructive criticism
  6. Confidence in self and leaders

New Testimonial

“Richard has been instrumental in getting me to draw on my hard-won experience and ideas to turn them into marketable intellectual property and products. His disciplined, systematic approach has already led to several significant accomplishments for me. Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, or working to get to the next level, Richard can boost your productivity and organizational effectiveness. Be forewarned, though. There is no magic formula, just systematic thinking, disciplined execution, and… Richard Martin.”

Caroline Salette, Owner and President, RE/MAX Royal Jordan Inc. and Salette Group Inc.

Richard Martin’s Business Readiness Process:

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Contact me to apply the whole thing–or just a piece, as needed–to improve your strategy, your readiness… and your results!

Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?

Why Sunday and What Does “Stand To” Mean?

Sunday? I want you to get my insights and advice first and fast, so you can prepare and up your readiness and results before others even know what’s happening!

And Stand To? It’s the order used in the military to get forces to man the parapets and be in a heightened state of situational awareness and, yes, readiness, so they can face any threat or undertake any mission.

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

By Richard Martin

If you’re a regular reader of my newsletters and blogs, you know that I put a lot of emphasis on preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. However, this week I’d like to look a bit closer at the positive end of luck and uncertainty. Specifically, how can we generate good luck? How can we put randomness in our favour? The answer is that you we have to take chances, and put ourselves in a position for something to happen. Call it the dynamic mindset versus the static mindset.

The great Florentine poet Dante had a special place on the outskirts of hell for those who had never risked anything in their lives. They had always strived for neutrality and what they perceived as security, so they were doomed in the afterlife to an eternity of blandness, neither knowing great suffering nor great elation. They were just blobs, like those in limbo.

Teddy Roosevelt expressed the dynamic mindset best: The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, …who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

In other words, you can’t make progress, grow, or achieve great things, without taking risks. That’s what “being in the arena” means. You can’t score if you don’t take a shot, and you can’t take a shot if you’re not on the ice. One of my clients once asked me if I could guarantee success if he implemented my recommendation. I said I could not, but that I could on the other hand guarantee what would happen if he didn’t act on it: nothing would change, and the situation could possibly even get worse.

We face these situations every day. What if I call a prospect and they hang up on me? Well, what if they don’t? What will you do then? Maybe you get a “no” 9 times out of ten, but it’s the “yes” 1 out of ten times that counts. And by actually doing something, you can practise, get better, and improve your results. You could even double them, going from 1 to 2 out of ten saying yes!

It is said that most projects are failures, either coming in over budget, over time, or with quality below expectations, or a combination of these three. And yet, we have bridges, buildings, tunnels, rockets, new drugs, new companies, new products and services, and inventions being built and achieved every day. If most projects are failures, why do we have so much accumulated capital and knowledge?

It’s because someone took a chance, put themselves in the arena, risked failure, but also created opportunity for success. They looked at the end result as the measure of success and achievement, not some arbitrary criteria based on a budgetary projection or an implementation calendar. They accepted that there would be setbacks, and kept on moving forward. In other words, they took chances and generated some good luck along the way.

New Testimonial

“Richard has been instrumental in getting me to draw on my hard-won experience and ideas to turn them into marketable intellectual property and products. His disciplined, systematic approach has already led to several significant accomplishments for me. Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, or working to get to the next level, Richard can boost your productivity and organizational effectiveness. Be forewarned, though. There is no magic formula, just systematic thinking, disciplined execution, and… Richard Martin.”

Caroline Salette, Owner and President, RE/MAX Royal Jordan Inc. and Salette Group Inc.

Richard Martin’s Business Readiness Process:

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Contact me to apply the whole thing–or just a piece, as needed–to improve your strategy, your readiness… and your results!

Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?

Why Sunday and What Does “Stand To” Mean?

Sunday? I want you to get my insights and advice first and fast, so you can prepare and up your readiness and results before others even know what’s happening!

And Stand To? It’s the order used in the military to get forces to man the parapets and be in a heightened state of situational awareness and, yes, readiness, so they can face any threat or undertake any mission.

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

by Richard Martin

I’m currently updating a course on crisis and emergency leadership for a government client. It’s a great opportunity to revisit the responsibilities of leaders BEFORE a crisis strikes.

Research shows that most crises have internal causes (see the United Airlines incident, and now the one that has just occurred on an American Airlines flight); they are therefore predictable and can be prevented and mitigated through proper vigilancepreparation, and robustness.

Here are 10 techniques and principles you can apply as an organizational leader to prevent or better prepare for a crisis, before one strikes.

  1. Mobilize your team by anticipating and identifying potential crises before they strike.
  2. Implement rational risk management and prevention/mitigation measures.
  3. Establish priorities for prevention and preparation on an ongoing basis.
  4. Create robust contingency plans to deal with the most likely and most dangerous situations you can envisage.
  5. Implement sound policies and procedures for the most likely crisis situations and events.
  6. Prepare yourself and your team through diligent practice and training.
  7. Employ trusted advisors and associates and ensure they are well qualified and working as a team.
  8. Build as flexible and resilient an organization as possible within the constraints of time and resources.
  9. Work on becoming more self-aware as a leader and seek to acquire the competencies to lead in a crisis.
  10. Develop the support structures and welfare systems you will need to maintain morale, unity and cohesion if a crisis should occur.

And with that, go forth and lead!

New Testimonial

“Richard has been instrumental in drawing on my hard-won experience and ideas to turn them into marketable intellectual property and products. His disciplined, systematic approach has already led to several significant accomplishments for me. Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, or working to get the next level, Richard can boost your productivity and organizational effectiveness. Be forewarned, though. There is no magic formula, just systematic thinking, disciplined execution, and… Richard Martin.”

Caroline Salette, Owner and President, RE/MAX Royal Jordan Inc. and Salette Group Inc.

Richard Martin’s Business Readiness Process:

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Contact me to apply the whole thing–or just a piece, as needed–to improve your strategy, your readiness… and your results!

Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?

Why Sunday and What Does “Stand To” Mean?

Sunday? I want you to get my insights and advice first and fast, so you can prepare and up your readiness and results before others even know what’s happening!

And Stand To? It’s the order used in the military to get forces to man the parapets and be in a heightened state of situational awareness and, yes, readiness, so they can face any threat or undertake any mission.

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

By Richard Martin

Getting there “firstest with the mostest” is crucial, but it can’t just be speed and mass for their own sakes. Readiness is about being vigilant, responsive, and prepared for action at the right time, with the right goals and priorities, the right capabilities, the right resources, and the right people.

  • The discipline involved in formulating objectives and plans is part of what makes an organization and its actions cohesive and effective.
  • We are rarely confined to a single hierarchical and functional role. We must make choices and decisions about how to focus our attention and apportion our efforts.
  • Readiness is about time: the time to consider, plan, and execute actions, and the time it takes to react to evolving conditions, the actions of other stakeholders, and changes to one’s own intentions and plans.
  • Military commanders and their staffs divide their work into three time horizons: immediate, current operations (or what is happening now), subsequent operations (or what will happen next), and future operations (or what comes after the next operation).
  • As with military forces, each organization must have time horizons, depending on the nature of the business, competitive conditions, R&D needs, and investment horizons.
  • Time horizons are inherently related to the hierarchical and functional structure of the organization. Higher-level units have longer timeframes, while lower-level units have shorter timeframes. Strategy, operations, and tactics are related to time horizons and organizational structure.
  • Strategy determines the existence and fundamental purpose of the organization. Operations is the way the strategy gets translated to action and results. Tactics is what you do with the forces on hand to get the job done now and in the very near future.
  • The combination of time horizons and organizational levels, with strategy, operations and tactics generates a comprehensive framework to implement the Business Readiness Process.

Richard Martin’s Business Readiness Process:

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Contact me to apply the whole thing–or just a piece, as needed–to improve your strategy, your readiness… and your results!

Did you know that an infantry battalion only needs about 3 to 4 hours of prep and planning time to be battle ready? What are you waiting for to get the same benefits for your outfit?

Why Sunday and What Does “Stand To” Mean?

Sunday? I want you to get my insights and advice first and fast, so you can prepare and up your readiness and results before others even know what’s happening!

And Stand To? It’s the order used in the military to get forces to man the parapets and be in a heightened state of situational awareness and, yes, readiness, so they can face any threat or undertake any mission.

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.