Monthly Archives: May 2009

Are women and men that different?

gender I am somewhat scared by the prospect of reading my most recent purchase. I was at Chapters this morning searching for Good to Great for the social sector to no avail but came across the following book: What men don’t tell women about business – Opening up the heavily guarded alpha male playbook by Christopher Flett. I was referred to it by a former classmate of mine who is married to the author and with whom I am organizing a women’s event (can you see the theme here?). To give you a sense for the book – in the Chapter’s business section there is an entire shelf of pink books with titles like ” gettting ahead in business for women” and “women in the lead” written by authors called “Poppy” and “Faith”. This shelf of bubblegum is smack in the midst of grey, black, and navy books with titles like “the New Titans” and “The New Wealth”. And then there is this book – with a black and gold cover and a byline that reads: “Discover the deep, dark secrets of the Alpha Businessman”. Ok… deep breath…Bring it on sister. Anyhow… I have reviewed the table of contents and will likely read it over the weekend as it is fairly short. But to give you a sense for what I am embarking on here are the titles of some of the chapters:

  • Things that Drive Men in Business
  • Bailing Water: Taking Things Personally
  • Loose Lips Sink Ships: Not Keeping Secrets
  • Getting Promoted: Taking Command of your Own Ship
  • Manhandling: Avoiding Shark Bites

Now let me be clear- I HATE gender stereotypes. I did  a double major in women studies and sociology and attended a boarding school that had up until three years prior to my first day, been a boy’s school for over seventy years. I have seen firsthand the silliness and stupidity and limit that gender stereotypes create. But I am also aware that there are differences between men and women.  Take for example, lunch conversations. I eat lunch with my male colleagues several times a week and conversations tend to fall into three topics; talking about money; talking about politics; talking about how to make more money. Repeat. Lunch with my female colleagues: talking about family; talking about trying to get more balanced; talking about kids, having kids, not having kids. Repeat. Different, yes. Is one more valuable than the other? No.

So I am excited to hear what Chris has to say. And confident that his intentions are pure…he really wants to help. I am just a bit afraid of what I may learn about my lack of “alpha male’ness”.


Diana Krall – knows how to make you love her…

diana krallI was lucky enough to be at the Diana Krall concert last night at the Orpheum. My mother is a massive fan and organized our Diana evening months ago. So lots of fun for all of us. But this woman (Diana) is so smart. A couple of quick lessons learned from Diana – or “best practices gained” as one of my colleagues likes to say…

  • Charm your audience. She opened with a song called “love being home” and sung about Vancouver and then said she loved the rain. This made us all feel quite loved and smug about the fact that Vancouver is our home too
  • Be authentic. She spoke about her mom, dad and her “aunties” in the audience. She talked about her shoes. Her two year old sons jumping off the furniture
  • She is not an island.  The beauty of jazz music is that each member has a moment to shine. She introduced each member of her band more than once and gave them lots of time for solos.
  • Take your work seriously, but not yourself. She told a story about meeting President Obama who proceeded to  ask her “so you’re married to Elvis Costello?” She also referred to herself as the band camp geek who got the rock star
  • Work hard. There is no doubt this gal is talented, but judging from her toned arms she clearly plays the piano (read: practices and performs) a lot and workopolis…a sunset industry?

sunsetI attended the BC Human Resources Management Association conference last week and was struck by the theme of constant constant constant change. Stop building a strategy…you need to start strategizing constantly. There is no such thing as sustained competitive advantage because that requires stability which doesn’t exist. You need to build a series of momentary advantages. If you can’t see ahead of the curve and bring those ideas in, you are not adding value. You have got to keep moving…

So let’s take a look at and workopolis. Traditional stalwarts of internet recruiting that seem oh so very 2003. I took a quick look at the rates they charge. You can post a job on nationwide for 60 days for $725. Workopolis is a touch more pricey at $750. Back in 2003, 750$ was a steal when your competitor was a daily newspaper like the Globe and Mail or the Vancouver Sun that charged $6000 to run an ad on a Wednesday and a Saturday. But today, newspapers are shuttering on a daily basis because no one reads them anymore. Monster and workopolis are now competing with the twitters, facebooks, linkedin’s and craigslist’s of the world. Even professional associations who have job postings as significant sources of revenue – (BC HRMA charges its members 675$ to post a job) are in trouble. The reason being that the internet has gone 2.0. We expect to interact with it. If you post a job on a site and h0pe that I will visit your site and see your posting…well you have become the newspaper and they are nearing extinction. And post my resume to monster or workopolis so that employers can pay 900$ to search the database? What? Been on Linkedin lately…But if you tweet me when a new job is posted on your corporate website because I registered with your site because I think your company is kind of cool…well that is more like it.

It does not look like these guys are looking ahead of the curve. Last week at the HRMA conference, Monster was giving out stuffed animal monsters to delegates…in the hope that they would create business. Time to find a different approach.

Key to the nursing shortage…increasing productivity

The Canadian Nurses Association released a report yesterday called Tested Solutions for Eliminating Canada’s Registered Nurse Shortage. The report findings demonstrate that if significant action isn’t taken now to eliminate the RN shortage,  the shortage will climb from the equivalent of nearly 11,000 full-time nurses in 2007 to almost 60,000 in 2022. In short, we are going off a cliff. The good news is that there is a solution. If the productivity of the RN workforce increases by just one per cent annually this will have a huge impact on the shortage, cutting it almost in half over a 15-year time frame.

Forget building fancy recruitment strategies…no need for cool swag at career fairs, overseas trips to recruit abroad. Just get more productive. But how? The typical way to increase productivity is to use incentives… talk to anyone who sells stuff what it’s like at the end of the month…But in a unionized environment how does one go about thinking about incentives? The report outlines a set of recommendations to increase productivity that include implementing a “team based approach to care” and technology amongst others. Helpful I guess, but they will require significant amounts of money and shifts in culture. And as a colleague of mine likes to say “true culture change takes at least six years”. So what to do… We need to get some good minds on this. Healthcare is going to be the issue of our generation – costs are continuing to increase and unlike education which faces similar demographic challenges, school enrollments are decreasing due to a shrinking birthrate. Not so with healthcare.  Any one have any thoughts?