CSCSC e-Newsletter

September 30, 2008

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Challenging Business and Education to Join Forces

By Linda Lucas
Two of Alberta’s most-essential sectors, business and education, appear to be in competition with one another. This relationship was identified on September 11 in Calgary, when Alberta's Minister of Education, David Hancock, addressed the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and encouraged business to hire only students who have completed a high-school diploma. Business indicates it can’t compete without enough hands on deck.
The Alberta Distributed Education and Technology Association (ADETA), and its 800 members from K-12, post-secondary and workplace-learning environments, would like to applaud the Minister and business leaders for this dialogue, and suggests that there is a solution that would both help keep kids in school and provide a skilled workforce. ADETA encourages both options; in other words, stay in school and work, and work and continue learning. Canada cannot afford an either/or situation of work or schooling and, in fact, these two choices do not reflect the needs and realities of much of our population, nor the opportunities that are now available through the use of educational technologies.
Across Alberta, we see rural communities working to include the power of broadband to build economic bases and create learning communities. We see employers setting up learning centres on the worksite so that high-school completion and further learning can become a reality. We see post-secondary institutions creating mobile and virtual learning labs, connecting with learners where they work and when they are available. We see schools offering online learning plus relevant, experiential learning as a component of effective, engaged education. We see industry developing training programs that are reflective of 21st-century learning and learners.
All of these solutions reflect the ‘and’ in learning and work.
If Canada is to keep pace with a global economy and truly develop its skilled workforce, what we urgently need is to offer a menu of learning solutions geared to the needs of individual learners as they move through the various ages and stages of their lives. Such solutions are available now through distributed learning, which has the power to bridge the apparent competing interests of business and education.
Anytime, anyplace learning for anyone and and business working and learning together. It is going to take all of us – and a coordinated effort – to solve these complex problems.
Background: ADETA is a non-profit organization that comprises individuals and corporate members interested in distributed education and technology in Alberta. Its purpose is to actively foster collaboration, cooperation, and the sharing of best practices among those in the K-12, post-secondary and workplace environments.
Linda Lucas is President of ADETA and the Joint Learning Initiative Lead.

Decisions, Decisions

By Chris Irwin, MBA
There are two questions that arise whenever a change initiative hits a snag that requires a decision: 1) “Who can make the call?” and, 2) “Who knows best?” Such is the interplay between authority and expertise in moving change forward. The manner in which individuals manage this interplay can have drastic effects on the success or failure of any given improvement initiative.
Authority – Who’s in charge?
Things are straightforward when the person who should make the decision has the visibility to come up with the best answer. Small operations, where the founder/owner knows every detail of every process, supplier and procedure, will fall into this category. It is not long, however, before organizations reach a size where authority and expertise sit with different individuals.
In the SMB space, as well as with larger corporations, necessary functional divisions make it impossible for those at the top of the organizational chart to see everything beneath them. Culturally and structurally, these organizations have to create an environment where information flows up and down. Also, different layers of management can create a dynamic by which those at different managerial rungs will be tempted to cover their respective backsides, on the off chance that results are not as favourable as expected.
Two things to watch out for in the authority structure are:
  1. Are those in charge accessing all the information that they need to make decisions?
  2. Are those in authority taking responsibility for the decisions they make (or should be making)?

“No” to either of these will hurt implementation in every case.

Expertise – Who knows best?
There is a human tendency to over-recognize one's own expertise (and I say this as an expert in interpersonal communications in change environments…). In process-improvement projects, however, those “doing the work” can add significant value by sharing their “on the ground” expertise. Familiarity with the day-to-day operations provides excellent visibility to identify areas for cost and/or time savings. These process experts may not, however, have visibility for the overall operations or the wider improvement initiatives that are underway.
Good information comes from tapping into the expertise at all levels of the organization. This may sound easy but can get hung up on a couple of areas:
  1. Managers who have “come through the ranks” may have to realize that times have changed;
  2. In engaging the “rank and file” managers, you must foster trust and manage expectations (e.g., just because I am asking you what you think, it doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to do it).
  3. Once the decisions are made, managers have the responsibility to “close the loop” with those whose expertise has been tapped.
So what?
Authority and expertise play different and important roles in enabling the most effective changes to take place. The interplay has the potential to slow or stop some of the best initiatives from smooth implementation. I would suggest that more responsibility sits with those in formal authority to reduce the interpersonal noise that habitually arises. This type of “micro leadership” can pay macro dividends as the right information moves to the top of the pile.
Chris Irwin brings value in enabling effective interpersonal communication in sectors that are undergoing change. He helps to reduce interpersonal noise in organizations facing challenges from globalization, technology communications and workforce diversity, including generational differences. He blogs on related issues at (Micro Organizational Behaviour) and can be reached through that website.

Screening Non-Traditional Talent

This article is republished with permission from the Summer 2008 newsletter of Graybridge Malkam.
In our previous newsletter, we provided some key tips to help you actively source non-traditional talent, and expand your recruitment strategies to include a diverse group of candidates, such as persons with foreign credentials, persons with (dis)abilities and older applicants. By following the suggested guidelines, you should be better informed to screen diverse potential applicants. This is an important procedure as you look for the most-talented candidates, who would contribute to your organization’s productivity. This process is also important when thinking about retention strategies in the long term. (See upcoming issue)
To ensure that you do not overlook the best and most-qualified candidate, you will need to modify the screening and selection process. Consider the following points:
  • Inclusion is key. Your inclusive recruiting strategies will attract many applicants from diverse communities, such as the GLBT, Aboriginal and (dis)ability community, as well as candidates with foreign credentials. It is important that all preconceived notions about someone’s English skills, age or cultural work ethic are recognized and addressed before the screening process begins. Research has shown that candidates with Anglo names, such as Matthew and Melissa, tend to have more call backs than candidates with non-Anglo names, such as Raj or Abdulla. These assumptions may cause you to pass over the most-qualified candidate.
  • Look beyond the résumé. One element of sourcing from non-traditional talent pools is that you are exposed to a variety of résumé formats. Some candidates with international experience and qualifications may present their résumés differently than their Canadian counterparts. In some cases, achievements may be downplayed, while education accomplishments are highlighted. This does not mean that they are less qualified for the position. Their abilities, skills and experience are what matters the most. Taking this into account will ensure that you do not miss out on the best candidate. Another best practice is to include what you expect from the candidates, in terms of résumé content and format on your website.
  • Acknowledge the value of international experience. Newcomers to Canada face the difficulty of being qualified, and in some cases over-qualified, but having no Canadian work experience. This can be a frustrating catch 22 for many internationally trained workers. As employers, you need to look at the international experience gained as an asset, rather than a setback. While industry terminology and practices may vary, internationally trained candidates possess many valuable qualifications. Having a diverse pool of talent in your organization can inject new and innovative ideas into your company. Employees can learn from each other, creating an environment of continuous learning.
Remember that tapping into new sources for professional and highly trained employees requires an acute awareness of cultural differences, and recognizing biased assumptions that may cloud the screening process. Everyone involved in the recruiting and hiring process should be aware of the principles of inclusive screening. By applying the above points, you are now better able to sift through the numerous applicants to find those that are best-qualified and well-suited to your organization.
Graybridge Malkam provides intercultural-effectiveness training and consulting services in the international development field, and diversity, language and employment-opportunity programs. Find out more at

Website Links


Coming Events

Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Annual Global Conference 2008, October 5 to 8, Denver, Colorado
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association and Export Development Canada, EDC Breakfast Information Sessions
Vancouver: October 6
Toronto: October 21
Montreal: November 26
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, 8 Wing/CFB Trenton Base Tour, October 7, Trenton, Ont.
Montreal (English)
initial: October 7 to 9, November 11 to 13; recurrent: October 8 and 9, November 12 and 13
initial: October 8 to 10; recurrent: October 9 and 10
initial: October 21 to 23; recurrent: October 22 and 23
initial: November 18 to 20; recurrent: November 19 and 20
initial: November 18 to 20; recurrent: November 19 and 20
Montreal (French)
initial: November 18 to 20; recurrent: November 19 and 20

CITT – Toronto Area Council, Speakers Forum: Canadian Supply Chain Success Stories, October 8, 2008, Mississauga, Ont.
initial: October 8; recurrent: October 9
initial: October 22; recurrent: October 23
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, Partners in Project Green: A Pearson Eco-Business Zone, October 15, Mississauga, Ont.
PMAC and DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Sixth Annual International Symposium on Supply Chain Management – Supply Chain Integration: Leadership, Trust and Negotiation, October 15 to 17, Calgary, Alta.
eyefortransport, Sustainable Supply Chain Summit, October 15 to 17, San Francisco, Calif.
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Ontario Public Buyers Association, Inc. Chapter, Competitive Bidding Issues, October 20, Whitby, Ont.
Supply Chain Digest, Best Practices in Distribution Center Design, Operations and Management
October 21 and 22: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
October 28 and 29: Atlanta, Georgia
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Atlantic Public Purchasing Association Chapter, Developing & Managing RFP's in Public Sector, October 21 to 23, Moncton, N.B.
Association chaîne d'approvisionnement et logistique Canada/Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, 8e colloque logistique, October 22 and 23, Montreal, Que.
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Ontario Public Buyers Association, Inc. Chapter, World Class Procurement Practices, October 24, Barrie, Ont.
Ontario Institute of the Purchasing Management Association of Canada, 11th Annual Conference: Supply Chain... the Core of Innovation, October 24 and 25, Ajax, Ont.
IE Canada, 77th Annual Conference, Trade Show & Gala: Maximizing the Value in Your Supply Chain, October 27 to 29, Mississauga, Ont.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, Hwy H2O Conference/Conférence Autoroute H2O, November 4 and 5, Toronto, Ont.
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, National Seminar Series: The State of Logistics Report 2008
November 4: Toronto
November 5: Kitchener
November 12: Vancouver
November 13: Calgary
November 14: Winnipeg
November 26: Montreal (en français)
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Ontario Public Buyers Association, Inc. Chapter, Sourcing in the Public Sector, November 5 to 7, Oakville, Ont.
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Canada West Chapter, Planning, Scheduling and Requirements Planning, November 5 to 7, Edmonton, Alta.
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, November 13 and 14, Chicago, Illinois
WESTAC and Transport Canada, Freight Demand Forecasts: Is Western Canada's Transportation System Up to It?, December 3 and 4, Vancouver, B.C.
Always up to date in our online event listing! 

©2018 Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council
©2018 Conseil canadien sectoriel de la chaîne d'approvisionnement