Tenders that are anything but

February 19, 2015

Tenders

I’ve had enough ..

The call came through directly to us that we were invited to tender for supplying social media training services across the country for this state body (I won’t mention who it was for the  moment).

Alarm bell number one..

Why wasn’t this put out to tender on the normal etender website I wondered?

I get quite suspicious when this happens – isn’t there a normal procedure for this?

Alarm bell number two..

We received the specification for this training and I was really surprised by how specific it was and by some of the language used. The objective was outlined clearly and it was up to the service providers to provide a solution. The thing is the ‘solution‘ was nearly fully mapped out in the specification.

One of the challenges for us was that the prescribed ‘solution’ would not achieve the required objectives.

We were well qualified to deliver a comprehensive solution for this organisation and we have huge relevant experience in the area so we went about writing a plan. This work took me the best part of a day to complete.

Alarm bell number three..

There was a very unusual item in the specification advising that the provider should budget “in a range of between €21,000 and €24,000“.

Why would a state organisation provide anyone tendering with a price guide? This was particularly surprising when the published ‘marking criteria‘ included cost.

Is it not up to each provider to assess the need and then provide a budget to fulfil this need?

Our proposal ..

We completed our proposal and included a more comprehensive training schedule than what was prescribed in their specification, clearly explaining why less training would not achieve their objectives.

I priced this using our normal rates and I was surprised that despite the heavier workload our budget came in a few thousand under the €21,000 – €24,000 price range as indicated.

We submitted our proposal and crossed our fingers – this was a really well thought out substantial and comprehensive evaluation and training plan.

Just like every proposal you work on, you end up investing your time and a little part of yourself in them and you become hopeful – on this proposal we were definitely hopeful.

Alarm bell number four – time to evacuate the building!!

We received our ‘Dear John‘ letter within days of submitting the proposal and we also received our score compared to the winning proposal based on the evaluation criteria.

On ‘methodology and fit for purpose‘ we scored 1,800 out of 3,000.

Surprise,surprise …the winning provider scored a full 3,000!!

Our methodology took their specification and went deeper and more comprehensive – I could feel the rage starting to build inside me.

A score of 1,800 means we barely know what we are doing ..

On ‘quality and balance of resources proposed‘ we scored 2,800 out of 3,500.

Surprise, surprise (once again!!)…the winning provider scored a full 3,500!!

Wow …they must be brilliant. Like those kids in school who get 100% out of 100% for everything.

The rage was starting to brim over … the cat, the dog, the laptop, the office door – nothing was safe (don’t worry I just cursed a lot!)

On ‘cost‘ we scored 3,500 out of 3,500..Jackpot!

Surprise, surprise …we beat the winning provider because our costs were below what was prescribed in the tender document. My accounting training was starting to pay off!

Rules and regulations..

I feel sorry for the government agencies as they are obliged to put things out to tender even when they might have a preferred provider. This ‘technically‘ means there is always 100% transparency, fairness and honesty and equal opportunity for everyone.

90% of the providers I have met have given up on this tender process because they believe it is a farce and a colossal waste of time and anything but fair.

In the commercial world we can work with whoever we want and when we want even if providers are more expensive – this makes business easy as we can just get on with things and not be forced into a painful ‘tender’ process every single time we want to get our business done.

However, these rules are in place and when these agencies are obliged to put things out to tender this commits anyone (fools like us) who is interested in the work to spend a lot of time working on proposals.

If the process is genuine we will play the game and put our best foot forward and let the best crew win.

When it is not and we are being used unfairly just so that the agency can ‘tick the box‘ on their technical obligations it is a much different manner.

What can we do??

This time I have had enough and I am complaining, freedom of information, the whole nine yards and I don’t care about the consequences.

The dilemma we all have is that ‘we don’t want to be seen as the troublemakers‘ and if we complain then we run the risk of not getting some crumbs from the table down the road.

We pay our taxes, which pays for these state agencies and if these rules are in place I won’t put up with anyone wasting our precious time just so they can tick a box and give the business to their favoured supplier.

I’ll let you know how this one goes…

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Launching your Core Values

February 17, 2015

US Marines Core Values

I was having a chat with someone working in one of the large multinationals recently and he was all excited as was telling me about their ‘core values‘.

We launched our core values last week” he explained to me as if he was talking about a new product or a new service.

Wow, that’s interesting!

Were these a new gimmick, something fancy, something that emerged from a brain storm, something that had to be sold to the team?

Your core values are the fundamental beliefs of your organisation. They are the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and action. Your core values can help people in your organisation to know what is right from wrong; they can help to determine if you are on the right path and the company is fulfilling its business goals; and they create an unwavering and unchanging guide.

If your ‘core values‘ are something that have to be launched then maybe they aren’t quite as ‘core‘ as you thought..

What are your core values?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Valentines Day and minimum expectations

February 14, 2015

Romance

As she stepped out of the car she left me with the little bombshell “I hope you have something special organised for Valentine’s Day” ..Dee was half joking of course! (?)

All of a sudden this isn’t about a demonstration of your love, it’s an expectation, a bar, below which you will perish if you fail to do the right things and achieve that minimum standard!

I started thinking..I am on an absolute hiding to nothing here.

All I can do is either disappoint (try to avoid!) or successfully manage to satisfy this ‘expectation’. What can I possibly do to surprise her and make her feel as special as I feel about her on this day ..something beyond “he did what was required“?

To make matters worse I have been so busy with work that I haven’t had two minutes to scratch, think about what I might do and then have the time to actually organise whatever I come up with!!

Isn’t this what it is like with the service we provide our clients? They quite rightfully have a minimum expectation and your first job is making sure that you at least match that – anything less and they are disappointed.

But just like Dee you want to leave them surprised and feeling special and this means doing something that they are not expecting, something that they will really appreciate and show them how much you really care. This is the ‘sweet spot’ where you get to show them that you are quite different than all the other potential ‘lovers’ out there.

Just like Valentines Day it’s a challenge but if you want them to know how special they are you’ve got to dig deep..

Happy Valentines Day x

(My efforts ..I wrote a poem for her card, I bought a single rose, I brought her breakfast, we’ll walk on a beach and after that I will cook dinner …have I done enough?)

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Following the Reciprocity rules

February 11, 2015

Reciprocity

When you hold the door open for me I say thank you …. I’ll do the same for you

When you leave me out in traffic I acknowledge it …. I’ll do the same for you

When you recommend me or pass me a business lead I thank you … I’ll do the same for you

We pretty much understand how these things work in the ‘real world‘ and we know we should thank and reciprocate where possible.

When these ‘rules‘ aren’t followed it reflects badly on whoever breaks them.

Last time I do a favour for them” you might say to yourself

When someone connects with you or shares a post of yours on LinkedIn say thank you and do the same for them when you get a chance.

When someone retweets something for you acknowledge it and do the same for them when it’s appropriate.

From my experience too many people treat the online world different to the offline world and they forget the normal common courtesies and very quietly they are doing their reputations damage bit by bit.

The rules of reciprocity are powerful (check out Robert Cialdini’s work on the topic) and can work for you or against you.

A favour deserves a thank you and a favour should be reciprocated whenever possible.

Offline or online …. That shouldn’t matter, it’s all your reputation.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Jumping to the wrong conclusion!

February 4, 2015

Man in overalls

My brother-in-law tells me a great story about a day that he was off work to do some painting in the house. He was wearing old clothes as he went about his chores.

Later that day he had to pop over to Douglas on an errand and while over there he popped into a show house in a new housing development that they had been interested in.

He was looking at the new ‘top of the range‘ four bedroom  detached show house. The salesman for the development took one look at him in his scruffy painting gear and without giving him a chance to speak he politely led him out the door and pointed down the street and told him the where the three bedroom semi-detached show house was.

My brother-in-law hopped in his car and headed home to finish his painting..

We should never judge our customer on the first impression..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Risk taking – are we all playing it too safe?

February 1, 2015

Feel Food Lost - Take me to the Church, Hozier

Back in August 2013 my son Brendan Canty was telling me about a music video he had been working on that he was really excited about.

He had done a video for a guy called Hozier and he felt that the song was really strong and on top of that they had a cracking, possibly controversial concept for a storyline. The song had been ‘out there‘ for a while but this video might just take it to a new place. Brendan was really excited about it as he believed he had produced a special video.

As always he pulled in a bunch of talented volunteers (check out the cast below), family and friends and both he and as his partner in Feel Good Lost, Conal Thomson gave it everything. He reckoned it was his best work to date (strangely I disagree – he has done even better in my view).

I remember that day in the Fuzion office in September when he showed us the finished product. He was right, it was a really powerful, brave, fantastic, thought provoking music video. “This is going to huge” was the collective view.

Brendan uploaded the video to YouTube that day and sure enough the views came tumbling in almost immediately. Every day we watched the numbers rising and rising and then the media started featuring it. I remember at an early stage the US online news platform The Huffington Post reviewed it. Wow!

16 months later across all video platforms ‘Take me to the Church‘ has been viewed over 100 million times, Hozier is a world wide music star and the rest is history.

His follow up music video’s ‘From Eden‘ and ‘Sedated‘ attracted four and three million views respectively. These are huge numbers but obviously nothing like ‘Take me to the Church‘.

We were travelling back from Dublin by car last week with Brendan and I was asking him about his work with Hozier. Hozier is a great guy who always credits Brendan/Feel Good Lost when he is asked about the video but for some reason they have not worked together since.

I find this incredible – surely the collective team that struck gold on this video should work together? I pressed Brendan about this. He was asked to do the next video and between the jigs and reels between Brendan, Hozier and the record company they couldn’t settle on a concept.

In the end he was asked to produce the video but he wasn’t comfortable with the chosen concept so he declined. I find this to be incredibly brave and I must admire his artistic conviction. This was after a huge conversation I had with with Brendan that went something like “Are you totally nuts??!!“.

Brendan Canty - Feel Good Lost, Take me to the Church, HozierI was asking him if he thought he would work with Hozier again. He wasn’t sure but he said a very strange thing, which really struck a chord with me.

An approach like ours would probably be considered to be too risky for him now. He is huge and he probably wouldn’t be allowed to do anything like what we did on the ‘Take me to The Church’ video as it could damage his following“.

I understood what he was saying but it didn’t stop me asking “But, isn’t that what brought him all the attention in the first place?

Why is it that when we have nothing to lose we take risks but when we have it all to lose we end up playing it safe?

..are we all playing it too safe?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Volunteers and some background info..

Notes from the director:

Brendan Canty: “As Take Me to Church is such a powerful and thought-provoking song we felt the video needed to be the same. We wanted to create something that challenged the audience and made them sit up and really think.

“The song is about sexuality, humanity and liberation, so after many discussions between us and Andrew (Hozier) we came up with a concept drawing on these themes and on the current situation in Russia – i.e the widespread ostracisation of homosexuals and the widespread condoning of their torture and murder. It was a real challenge for us and with a story as big as this, and a subject so topical we had to get it 100% spot on.

“The casting was crucial and our two leads (Daniel Coughlan and Emmet O’Riabhaigh) and the main thug (Patrick Sheahan) gave phenomenal performances in this video. With the help of them, the rest of the amazing cast and crew, Roger and Niall at Rubyworks and Andrew (Hozier) I feel we nailed it.”

Credits:

DIRECTOR: Brendan Canty
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Feel Good Lost
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Brendan Canty
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Conal Thomson
1ST AD: Emmet O’Brien
PRODUCER: Adam McCarthy
PRODUCER : Emmet O’Brien
PRODUCER: Damien McCarthey
DIRECTOR’S REPRESENTATION: Chloe Page
ACTORS: 
Emmet O’Riabhaigh
Daniel Coughlan
Patrick Sheahan
Christopher O’Flaherty
SPECIAL THANKS:
Diarmuid, Aidan & Val O’Donovan
Niall and Roger at Rubyworks
Caoillian Sherlock
Denise Heffernan
David Maloney

Emmet O’Riabhaigh

Emmet O' Riabhaigh, Hozier, Take me to the Church

Daniel Coughlan

Daniel Coughlan, Hozier, Take me to the Church

 

Patrick Sheahan

Patrick Sheahan, Hozier, Take me to the Church

“Done it all before” versus a fresh perspective and sparkle

January 25, 2015

Bored Accountant

I left the accountancy practice because I knew I had gone stale, working on the same clients in the same environment and now I wanted to get stuck in and get more involved so I decided to move into industry.

I started with Moog, an American multinational at the age of 22 taking on the role of financial accountant, reporting into the financial controller.

I didn’t have experience of working for a multi-national before but I was a bright, enthusiastic qualified accountant looking for a new challenge.

For six months I was learning, soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that initial period I really got into gear and they got the best of me. The financial controller went off on maternity leave after I was there just over a year and I was asked to take on her role and mine – not a bother, I took it in my stride. When she came back I knew I couldn’t slip back to the supporting role so I looked for a new challenge.

I then took on the role of financial controller of a drinks wholesaler and manufacturer, a subsidiary of Guinness.

I didn’t have experience of working in the drinks sector before but I had worked in practice and I had been the financial controller in a large multinational. For six months I was learning and soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that they really got the best of me.

Music Store

After a few years in this role I was going stale, I was repeating myself and the job was more of the same. I had always wanted to start my own business and I loved music so I recruited a manager and opened a few music stores around the country while I still stayed working. I had never worked in the music industry before nor had I operated retail stores but I brought a fresh perspective and bucket loads of enthusiasm to this new experience.

Out of the blue I was asked if I was interested in the General Manager role, which I gladly accepted.

I didn’t have the experience of managing a large business but I was a bright, enthusiastic person with a good understanding of the company and I had a solid background in finance.

For six months I was learning, soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that period they really got the very best of me achieving the best results ever for the company.

Guinness

I then moved to Guinness in Dublin taking on a number of different roles, none of which I had done before bringing fresh eyes and a new perspective to all of them.

After three years I became the general manager of a subsidiary of Heineken bringing fresh eyes and a new perspective to the role. I really drove on the performance of the company but in truth I had done a similar role for the Guinness subsidiary and after three years I was getting bored and I should have moved on. I lasted two more years and left to join Deirdre Waldron at Fuzion, which has been brilliant.

Everyday in Fuzion we are faced with new situations and fresh challenges. We often work with new clients from different sectors and we achieve great results by bringing fresh eyes, new perspectives and enthusiasm and applying all of our collective experience and learnings to their challenges.

I have learned in my 32 years of working that to get the best of anyone in a role there must be some element of a challenge in it, something new the whole time that keeps them challenged, fresh, inspired and motivated and at the top of their game.

I have also learned that after a while of doing the same thing over and over people will get stale as that sense of challenge disappears. Despite having all of the experience and knowledge a big opportunity will be lost by not handing over the mantle to someone who knows less but has a sparkle, a freshness, a hunger and a desire to learn and take on a new challenge.

The next time you are choosing someone for a role or you are putting your project out for contract try to resist the safe temptation of going with the person or the company that have “done it all before” and instead look for the fresh perspective and grab that sparkle.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Hoovering and Storytelling

January 18, 2015

Sir James Dyson

Typical..just as we are skint at the start of January and all the bills are flying in our Dyson vacuum cleaner decides to pack up. I guess its not too bad as the previous one served us well for over 10 years so we can’t complain too much. Having said that the timing could be better!

Off we headed on a Saturday afternoon (I can think of a lot better things to be doing!) to buy a new one and for me there was a simple choice to be made – what model of Dyson would we buy and at which store?

For me I had no intention of even considering a different brand of vacuum cleaner (I have to try hard to not say ‘Hoover’) simply because I believe in the ‘story‘ of Dyson, the spirit, the innovation, the person and I believe that this story will deliver a superior product.

While we were browsing the selection of Dyson’s on display at Harvey Norman’s a helpful shopper (another guy as it turns out – is it the men that do the hoovering I’m wondering?! …I used the hoover word didn’t I!) whispered in my ear:

I’d buy a Miele if I were you. The suction is much better. I’ve had Dyson’s down through the years and they are only ok“.

Despite this sound impartial advice and my own experience I still wanted a Dyson. Even though we were surrounded by a wide selection of vacuum brands with lots of different features and price points I didn’t once consider even looking at them. I just wanted a Dyson. One of the Dyson models had a good offer on it, which simplified the task even further and before we knew it we were on the way home.

Opening and assembling the Dyson was a pleasure (relatively speaking!) with all of the parts cleverly clicking into place and inside the box I found a little booklet called ‘The Story of Dyson’.

It tells us that James Dyson is a curious inventor and shared some of his early designs including a Sea Truck (a high speed landing craft), a ballbarrow (a wheelbarrow with a clever ball that stops it sinking into the mud) a trolleyball boat launcher and an amphibious wheel boat.

Observing a sawmill he watched how a cyclone spun sawdust in the air and collected it in a chamber and wondered if the same principle could apply to vacuum cleaners that were using cleaner bags that constantly clogged the machines. After 5,127 prototypes he cracked it!

Since then he launched his range of vacuum cleaners, built a successful company and has constantly improved his products as well as introducing new ones.

James Dyson Foundation

Today Dyson machines are exhibited in museums in London, New York, Zurich,Sydney and Paris and the James Dyson Foundation runs workshops around the globe where young people solve engineering challenges in a practical fun way.

Dyson know they have a great story and they understand the power of this story so much that they include in it every box. This story is an integral part of their brand, so powerful that it had me not even entertaining a competitor product.

What you do, the products you sell and the services you offer are important – your story is what makes you unique.

Time to start storytelling ….

Check out another blog post: “Branding and Storytelling

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Personal branding and your Coat of Arms

January 12, 2015

personal branding

There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of your ‘personal brand‘; how you always need to be aware of it, how you should project it and how you should protect it.

It is talked about in marketing circles as if it is a new thing and that it is borrowed from the world of products and companies, which all have their own branding that we can easily relate to.

The comparison to products, services and companies can be a little disturbing at first – surely we are human beings and not products (many may disagree!)? After all we have feelings, thoughts, opinions, beliefs, passions, we want to be appreciated and valued and we definitely don’t want to be treated as commodities.

If we forget about the comparison to products and companies it gets easier and we can start to appreciate what our personal brand really means. Our personal brand is our story, it is what we represent, it is what we believe in, it is what motivates us, it is who we are. If you deal with me this is what you get.

The challenge is to properly project our story so that others get what we are all about.

In ancient times the personal brand for our family was captured in our family crest or our coat of arms.

A coat of arms is described as a unique heraldic (a visual way of signifying rank) design on a shield or surcoat. A surcoat, and subsequently a coat of arms was used by medieval knights to cover, protect, and identify the wearer. The coat of arms symbolises the heraldic achievement which consists of a shield with a crest and motto.

These coats of arms came into general use by feudal lords and knights in battle in the 12th Century. By the 13th Century their use had spread beyond the battlefield to become a kind of flag or logo for families in the higher social classes of Europe, inherited from one generation to the next.

Your coat of arms or crest was effectively a way of telling a story about your family and what they represent.

Canty family crestIn the case of the ‘Canty’ crest:

  • the core blue colour in the shield represents Loyalty and Truth (good traits I’m sure you will agree!)
  • the use of yellow represents Generosity (the drinks are on me ..very true)
  • the Chevron (the upsidedown ‘V‘) denotes Protection. Apparently this is often granted as a reward to one who has achieved some Notable Enterprise (woohoo!)
  • the crescents signify one who has been ‘Enlightened and Honoured by his Sovereign’ (hmm..what did we do to deserve this?)

While this captures and projects a ‘story’ and a set of values and beliefs for my family in many ways it also sets a standard and creates an expectation about our behaviour – something that we all need to live up to.

Ironically the use of the coats of arms evolved over time and started to be used by commercial companies, which are effectively the origins of the modern logo.

Telling your story today

Today we don’t carry around a shield (just a business card..) and we don’t wear a suit of armour so communicating our story can be a little bit more challenging!

The face to face personal experience has always been the most important part of our story. How we look, how we dress, how we speak, how we behave and what we do are powerful ways of telling this story. Those who interact with us get to experience our ‘personal brand‘ up close and hopefully they will carry with them a positive version of our story.

For those at a distance our modern day coat of arms is our blog, our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. This is where we get a chance to show our photo, detail who we are, what we have learnt, what we have done, what we believe in and then bring all of this to life through our regular conversations and interactions.

In Ireland alone there are 1.4 million LinkedIn users. The most common activity of these users is looking at other people’s profiles. I wonder why..

How is your coat of arms looking? 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

We had a great 2015 because ..

January 1, 2015

Cool Runnings

For the last few years we have been doing this simple little exercise at the start of the year to help get focused around things that are important both personally and professionally.

We have found it to be really useful and one that has made a big difference.

Making plans and actually achieving them is always challenging and at the start of the year we find ourselves at the start of that loop all over again making promises that often will never materialise!

Benjamin Zander - The Art of PossibilityA few years ago we were inspired by a book about goal setting in a different way called “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (a really interesting motivational book by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife who is an executive coach).

Benjamin Zander, the conductor has the task every year of bringing out the very best from a large group of very talented musicians for his orchestra.

His approach is rooted in the power of visualisation – the simple idea behind this is that if you visualise what you want to achieve then there is a much better chance of it actually happening (unbelievers ….stop reading now !!)

This year instead of doing it individually (definitely do this as well) why not as a team take on the task for your business or organisation.

Imagine the last working day of the year just before you switch off the lights in the office, before you exchange office presents and head out the door to do some last minute shopping and enjoy a well-earned rest, you have a chat about the fantastic achievements during the year.

Here goes ..

Take a flipchart and simply write your achievements in advance for the last working day of the year to come..

Wednesday, 23rd December, 2015

We had a great year because ….

Be as specific as you can including business and developmental goals and when the team are done get everyone to Sign it!

Once you have done this take some time out with your team and work out the detailed planning and action plans that support your 2015 wish list and then track progress during the year.

…grab just 30 minutes with your team this week before things fully kick off again and do it!

Happy 2015!!

(the pic at the top of the post is from the fantastic movie, Cool Runnings the last featuring the comic genius John Candy about the Jamaican bobsleigh team making their debut at the 1988 winter Olympics in Canada)

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


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