By: Craig Mackay & Bernie Uhlich

Fall 2020 Issue

Thanks to all our members, speakers, guests, non-members, and new members who participated in the CATALYST 2020 Management Consulting Conference.  To deal with the obstacles, challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 constraints, we quickly pivoted from the initial Live format conference, to one that was totally virtual.  As a result of the format shift, we successfully attracted over 200 management consultants, CMCs, members, non-members, speakers, panelists, students and sponsors. 

CATALYST 2020, Highlights of What You Missed
Some key themes and takeaways we gleaned from this conference included the following: (if you were a registered participant, check out Whova App for video replay and presentations).

KEYNOTE: From Big Data to Your Data: How Data-Driven Technologies are Shaping the Future - Nora Young

  • There are huge opportunities with our ability to assemble and process large amounts of data from many disparate sources. 
  • With this power, comes our need to address issues of trust and transparency, the potential for data bias, limitations of machine learning algorithms, and data security and privacy. 
  • These are all key factors for consultants to consider when working with their clients.

Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Execution - David Barrett

  • Why do strategies fail? Short answer… lack of execution. We execute poorly if at all on the strategy. 
  • There tends to be a lack of clarity, commitment, accountability in moving from strategy to execution. 
  • This results in a massive disconnect between the people doing the work and the project itself.

Organization Change: How to Design Successful Digital and Process Transformations - Louise A Harris, CMC CCMP

  • This session was an excellent overview of why properly orchestrating and leading organizational change is critical to the success of any transformational initiative. 
  • Louise provided several tips and techniques; with do’s and don’ts on how to proceed for success.
  • A key to success is to simplify the process and improve engagement.

Cloud Transformation: Realizing the Value and Managing the Risk - Jame Healy, CMC; Alec Taylor; Mike Hilton; Christina Wang

  • Technology executives of HP, IBM and Microsoft discussed the challenges and opportunities of migrating to the cloud NOW. 
  • Cloud is now ready for prime time usage by most companies big and small. 
  • The transformation is more than just Lift and Shift, you need to consider fit for a purpose. 
  • It is also important to create a Data Governance Model to ensure sustainable success. 
  • Hybrid scenarios are a good option to create computing power on demand and elasticity in a micro services architecture or new business venture.

The Design Sprint - John Zeratsky

  • The Design Sprint approach integrates innovation with the agile approach of the Sprint process to drive velocity in creating new capabilities. 
  • The challenge is to decide and filter down to the ideas that are worth spending time on.  “You don’t need to waste a bunch of time making the perfect decision, it’s better to make a good decision and test it with real customers” – John Zeratsky.  
  • The proposed methodology is to start with an idea, build, launch, gather data, and iterate. 
  • The Design Sprint methodology is a structured approach to complete fast iterative loops and is based on a 5 day cycle of: MTWTF daily cadence (Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype). 
  • It introduces new ways of thinking of how to work on organizational problems (e.g. a sketch to produce a visual shorthand). 
  • A sample white boarding / sketching approach (uses Miro, Google Slides, Envision Freehand) is a good way to evaluate options from the team before going to the prototype stage. Learn more

Influencing an Experiment-Driven Innovation Culture: A Guide for Consultants - Leah Oliveira; Carlos Oliveira

  • Experimentation is solid methodology to drive an Innovation Culture to improve speed of time to market / product development. 
  • Influencing an Experiment Driven Innovation Culture embodies three key values: "Humility, Curiosity and Courage" through principles, behaviours, practices and tools.
  • Experimentation is about expedient, cumulative learning in 1-4 week experiments. 
  • The process is about a culture change and influencing that new mindset. 
  • Leadership is critical to champion and drive this approach. You need to align around the problem and overcome the inertia. 
  • A recommended read is The Startup Way by Eric Ries.

Bridging the Digital Divide - Carrie Lysenko

  • Carrie provided an entertaining and insightful presentation on the power of marketing and social media. 
  • Key messages included: YouTube is the most used social medium and is used by the widest audience in age demographics.
  • You can do a digital temperature check on your own website. It's free and shows how your website is performing against competitors (Organic searching is still apparently king); finally, if it doesn't load in 3 seconds it's too slow.
  • Some data: our use of mobile devices has increased by 67%;  20M Canadians use desktop and mobile; pure desktop users have gone down by 13% and Apps dominate.

Cyber Security in the Digital Age: An Essential Business Strategy - Colin Dhillon, Carlos Perez Chalico, AJ Khan, Mitra Mirhassani, Cara Wolf

  • A key message from this panel is that step 1 is get a risk assessment done, then get a budget to do it properly with top down planning and recognizing that it is everybody in the organizations responsibility to manage. 
  • It is critical that cybersecurity needs to be prioritized, endorsed, funded, and monitored at the Board level.  
  • It needs training for participants to recognize risks and how to respond to various scenarios. 

The Dark Side of Artificial Intelligence and Why It Matters Today! - Patrick Egbunonu

  • This session reviewed the various elements of how AI can be used and abused. 
  • It covered the scope from data access, permissions, legal implications of data leakage and abuse of information. 
  • It was a very timely presentation, as that same day the news broke the story of how various shopping malls were using hidden cameras, storing data and processing information to review shopping flow patterns. There was no knowledge of this by the customers being photographed and no idea of how the data was being used for potentially sketchy purposes. 
  • A great eye-opener for the importance of managing the control of privacy and consent and how easy it is to be potentially abused.  

Sustainability, Supply Chain, and The Circular Economy - Frances Edmonds; Dilhari Fernando; Christina Seidel

  • This panel probed the nature of the circular economy and how it supports sustainability and responsible use of supply chains and product design to support reduction of environmental hazards and convert used materials back into usable products. 
  • Various companies described their goals, approaches and successes / challenges in how they are working to solve the problems. 
  • A key message is that Sustainability should not just be the work of sustainability professionals - it has to be embedded across the company and partners.

The New Future - Francis Liska, CMC

  • Francis reviewed the perspectives based on assessment of some top 50 Sr. Exec thinkers on the future. 
  • Today, there is an accumulation of fear as people are preconditioned to negativity prior to COVID-19 causing a much more frenzied reaction. 
  • People need a safe place to go to get things and are looking for a beacon of calm. There is no reason to be paralyzed by fear.
  • Learnings included: social distancing can contribute to depression, exhaustion – dropping more balls, eating and drinking more, and people becoming more aggressive.  
  • Business and organizations have a choice and the consumer mindset will shift.
  • Emerging trends to consider: more health screening; what can go online, will go there and stay there; the touchless economy has arrived; disruption is off the scales hence you need to adapt quickly. 
  • There is the transition from office to home requiring new means to collaborate. Consider telework vs. working from home, the impact on local economy, telemedicine.
  • A conclusion includes: Let go of the past; do what you think is right and make peace with it.

Creating A Personal Brand Engine Using Content Excellence - Ross Simmonds

  • A clear desire exists for management consultants to get vastly better at improving their personal brand and driving clients. 
  • Content is critical but it must "Educate, Engage and Entertain". 
  • Personal Branding starts with clearly understanding what story you want to convey.  
  • Your personal branding engine is similar to how Disney produces movies. The model starts with the story: the idea, framework, first draft, final draft, and then the content can be published.  
  • Content is the foundation of culture. Once produced you need a content distribution model to reshare, repost, remix. Don’t be afraid to promote your work. 
  • Then in the words of Walt Disney: “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally dare."


Thanks again to all who attended this virtual conference. Check out some of our lessons learned from hosting this event here

Craig Mackay, FCMC is President, CMC-Ontario and Vice President of Nortak Software, responsible for Information Solutions.  Craig is also a Management Advisory Service (MAS) consultant recognized by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and the Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CMC-Canada).

Bernie Uhlich, CMC is a tenacious Global Supply Chain & IT Transformation Executive and Certified Management Consultant with over 30 years experience helping companies lead and deliver game-changing, breakthrough transformational change results by aligning their Supply Chains and IT with the business, customers and partners to achieve operational excellence.