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Archive for September, 2014

My Role as a Business Consultant

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

When I get asked to scope out a business problem it’s initially just a matter of grabbing the owner at their place of business for a short discussion. I write a report based on that conversation. That isn’t my assessment; it’s about getting agreement around the parameters for kick-off. This first report defines the problem on a simple first pass.

Usually what would be written in this report should be no surprise to the business owner. In reality they know the shit they’ve found themselves embroiled in. Their problem is that it’s difficult in the trenches to see the whole battlefield. Hiring a business consultant is about getting an educated assessment and strategic advice.

I have no doubt that the business owner, on reading the first report, wonders why they asked me to contribute. And I probably told them something uncomfortable they were trying to avoid. Uncomfortable things are hard to address. Nobody likes pain. Everybody hopes for a simple, painless cure to the problem. A saviour. But without that first pass across their business landscape I’m not sure how the work could begin at solving their problem. First we have to agree on the problem; define it. Poke it in the eye with a stick and look at the puss.

So let’s call that first report Step One. And Step One would come as general advice.

Step Two, if a client asks for more information, is where I say “OK I can’t take your word for all of this… I want to look at your books.” Cash flow. Time value of money decisions. Credit terms. I’ll be looking at your business to free lazy capital tied up in unnecessary assets and stock. I’ll start looking at your supply and distribution. We’ll consider risk management. Break-even point. Short and long term finance. Asset acquisition and depreciation. In short, I’ll start to dig into that problem with some educated direction. And I’ll spend my days following you around to understand your business, staff and culture. This is the step where we redefine what you do.

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The Incredible Technology of Writing

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Language may or may not be a technology. I’d fall on the side of arguing that language is a construct designed by humans as a tool to communicate, but we can disagree on that one. However, regardless of the way we answer that question, language is a profoundly useful way to capture ideas and transfer those ideas directly into the minds of other human beings. Language is vastly greater than the sum of a mere instinctual communally shared grunt. Something much deeper is happening.

Think of a word… I’ll run with the contentious CUNT (and defer to Germaine Greer’s discussion of cunt Part 1 and Part 2). If only because cunt is a memorable example.

When we say cunt as a monosyllabic phonetic statement there are shared and specific ideas being passed through the standard communication model from the sender encoding a message, the transmission of that message along a channel and the message being decoded by the receiver. Language offers us an elegant tool to wrap that message into a single block. The word. Cunt.

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Two Sets of Company Books

Monday, September 8th, 2014

The average Joe or Jane has little idea about the corporate landscape except to hear the whining from Australian mining magnates that they’re too poor to pay a mining tax. Occasionally we read about the huge fuel subsidies given to those same miners, but for the most part we have little idea. The MBA program certainly educated me on that score.

I once heard someone Internet famous say that MBAs ruined the World. To qualify for the MBA program at UTAS you need to prove seven years in business and possess an undergraduate university degree. My undergraduate degree was in Computing. The MBA curriculum roughly covers the curriculum of a standard undergraduate degree in business at a more advanced level with a higher standard of work and adds another six months of statistics, economics, law and managerial finance.

I spent yet another six months as a specialisation on top of my MBA qualification studying Journalism and Media Studies with an extra unit of Investigative Journalism after graduation.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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