Who does President Macron think he is – and are you like Jupiter?

Firstly, President Macron is not Scottish

Those who thought his name was MacRon were wrong.

The Scottish Saltire: not the flag for Emmanuel Macron
The Scottish Saltire: not the flag for Emmanuel Macron

And, by the way, former president Obama is not of Irish descent. Not O’Bama. He had enough trouble proving he’s an American, although he is possibly the first US president not to claim Irish ancestry.

What’s Jupiter got do do with M Macron?

In an interview with Andrew Marr, the French president said people had likened him to Jupiter, and he apparently accepted the comparison as reasonable. Not everyone in Britain is familiar with Jupiter. Many people know it is the name of a planet, but not everyone knows that, like many planets, it was named after a Roman god.

Does M Macron think he’s God?

No! I think that is the point. Jupiter was the chief of the gods, but his powers were limited. Not only did he have trouble keeping the other gods in order, but also, like all the gods, he had only limited power over humans. He was very different from an omnipotent creator, such as the deity of Christians, Jews and Moslems. (Let’s not argue right now as to whether those are all the same.)

What’s M Macron’s identity got to do with you and me?

I think the president was saying that he could lead but not dictate. He does NOT think he is God Almighty, just ‘first among equals’. Do you try to manage or dictate? We all need to have realistic ideas about who we are and what we can do. Is it time to review your management style?

What does the Carillion crisis tell us about Risk Management?

I did not mention Carillion in post about New Year Risks

I did not foresee the Carillion crisis in particular, but I did mention the supply chain risk. How right I was.  We are all increasingly dependent on each other as the economy becomes more interconnected, which leads to one of my concerns about Brexit.

Dice. Is that how you manage your business? Was it how Carillion was managed?
Dice. Is that how you manage your business? Was it how Carillion was managed?
Was the Carillion crisis unforeseeable?

If you think this is all about hindsight, you are wrong. I now know that it was foreseen by many commentators, although I wasn’t one. Of course, I’m not in the government, but they were warned and should have taken steps to mitigate the risk, and perhaps some of those affected could have done more to protect themselves, as the banks have, I believe.

Did you know that the French pronounce the name of this company like “Carry-on”? What can I say?

Whether you have dealings with Carillion or not, learn from this
  • Check not only your suppliers, but their suppliers, and ask yourself how safe they are.
  • Try to avoid becoming too dependent on any one supplier.
  • Look at your clients and don’t become too dependent on any one of those.
Does this advice apply when you are dealing with a company as big as Carillion?

Of course, I recognise that my advice above may be unrealistic in some circumstances, but you always need a Plan B that does not depend on your biggest supplier or client, as far as possible.

I also know that many people thought Carry-on was too big to fail, because the government wouldn’t let it. Time will tell, but I remember Lehman Brothers.

Is the Carillion crisis an opportunity for some?

Remember that the other side of risk is opportunity. If you are a competitor of this company for any of the services they provide, perhaps you will get an opportunity to tender, or re-tender, for one of their contracts. It’s an ill wind that blows no man any good. Are you ready?

Stacks of money. Could you benefit from the Carillion crisis?
Stacks of money. Could you benefit from the Carillion crisis?


The Risks of Consulting – remember the Referendum!

What consulting risks do I mean?

I am not thinking of the risks involved in consulting for a living, like me. That could be a series, but not now. I am looking at the risks of holding a consultation, either withing your business or externally.

Do I not now recommend consulting?

I have written about the Four C’s of management, and Consult is one. It is definitely a Good Thing, but like anything else, it has risks, and they need managing. The Referendum on the EU was a classic example of how not to do it. See my other blogs on that subject.

The First Risk of Consulting: confusing questions

Remember “Brexit Means Brexit” and weep! Nobody knew then or now what Brexit means. What was it people wanted to gain or to lose?

  • Immigration?
  • Benefit tourism?
  • Foreign students?
  • Regulation?
  • Agricultural subsidies?
  • Our contribution to the EU budget?
  • Access to other markets, such as China, the USA or Japan?

Always word the question, or better a series of questions, so that you will know what the answer means.

The Second Risk of Consulting: failure to manage expectations
  • Some people thought leaving the EU would happen as soon as the votes were counted.
  • Others thought all foreigners would be sent back.
  • There were even some who thought we would have an extra 350 million a week for the NHS!

This has led to discontent. Do be clear as to the likely process and timescale for implementing the results of your consultation.

The Third Risk of Consulting: Polarisation

Many people now treat the 48% who voted Remain, plus all the non-voters, as anti-democratic if they raise any criticisms of the process or express any views as to the way forward.  The Brexiters claim to represent The People. Could your consulting lead to a feeling of anger among the “losers” and/or arrogance among the “winners”?

How to reduce the polarising effect of consulting

I did not specifically cover consulting in my book How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics, but you might find it helpful when interpreting the results of your next consultation exercise.

The front cover of 'How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics' which could help you with your consulting.
The front cover of ‘How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics’ which could help you with your consulting.

On most issues, a simple “yes/no” answer is not much use: there will be a spectrum of opinions, like this.

  1. It’s an overdue improvement
  2. I quite like the idea but I’ve got reservations
  3. Don’t know/don’t mind
  4. I don’t like it, but might give it a try
  5. Over my dead body

You will often find the proportions in each category evenly spread or forming a gaussian bell-shaped curve. Getting 51% to say “Yes” doesn’t man you’re home and dry. How committed to the idea are that 51%? They aren’t all going to be in category (1). What can you do to get the ones in category (2) on board?

And what about the other 49%? How many are going to be won over, how many will put up with it but winge a lot, and how many are going to resign, take their business elsewhere, take legal action, demand a public inquiry, start a protest movement or join a terrorist organisation? Obviously, it will depend on the seriousness of the issue, but you get the point? How many employees, clients, suppliers or volunteers can you afford to lose?

You need to think how to manage the minority so as to win them over if they are in categories (3) and (4). Can you amend the plan to take into account their concerns?

The Final Risk of Consulting: complacency.

You probably know that the majority are not always right, but it is tempting to think that, if you’ve done a  “successful” consulting exercise, you have all you need to enable you to go ahead with your project.

Wrong! The majority could be wrong. You still need to do enough research beforehand and also to monitor for signs it’s not working. And have a plan B. It’s a good job we’re not talking about Brexit, isn’t it?