Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Alberta Party Meets With The Business Community

I was invited to a very interesting business meeting last night.  The invitation came from my friend Chris LaBossiere.  I was pre-disposed to accept just out of my respect for Chris.  In retrospect I am really glad I did.  The meeting was held at the new offices of Yardstick Software.  I hadn’t seen the new digs yet so that in itself was another reason to attend.  By the way Chris, the new offices are fantastic!
I was told it was an Alberta Party meeting and would be attended by a group of business leaders from the Edmonton area.  Indeed it was an eclectic group made up of a mix that went from young twenty something leaders in the tech field to seasoned gray hairs who are seasoned veterans and acknowledged leaders in the business community.  The focus of the meeting was to discuss the Alberta economy.  Some of the leaders of the Alberta Party were there but we had all been told it didn’t matter whether we were interested in the Party or not.  The Party was interested in us. They wanted to hear what we thought. As part of their policy development initiatives they are reaching out to the community to get open feedback on topics like the economy, education, healthcare and others.
What a great evening!  It turned out the room was full of great minds that really care about the future of our province.  The dialogue was stimulating and engaging.  The agenda consisted of discussion on three specific questions: What do we think of the present state of the Alberta economy?  What are our hopes for the future of the Province?  How could these hopes be translated in to policy?  Everyone was encouraged to speak openly.  The result was that each of us was challenged to express our thoughts and consider the thoughts of the others.  I was exposed to a diverse selection of thoughts, beliefs and ideologies.  This discussion certainly expanded my intellectual horizons.
What’s really significant here is that this was an Alberta Party initiative.  The Party wanted to hear what was said in that room and what is being said in many other rooms like it all over Alberta.  Wow!  A Party that wants to respond to what the people want rather than telling them what is in their best interest.  What a revolutionary concept.
I have been a Conservative my entire life.  It is the only party I have ever voted for.  I have served on the executive of constituency associations; attend AGM’s, and policy conferences.  Last night was the first time I have ever thought a party was really interested in hearing what was being said as anything more than a patronizing display.
I haven’t joined the Alberta Party yet but I might, I just might.

Wrong Is Wrong No Matter How You Spin It

Wrong is wrong no matter how you spin it.  I don’t believe that unethical business practices are ever justified.  I am on the board of a private Edmonton company that is being attacked by a union.  I know the word attacked is very strong and some readers are going to automatically think I am just a “union bashing” Capitalist.
While anyone who knows me will tell you I am definitely a proud capitalist, that does not automatically mean I am anti-union.  In some cases I believe unions are beneficial to their membership and can form an important part of a company’s culture.  For example, unions can at times be an important communications link within an organization.  In this company however that is not the case.  I do not believe the union would bring anything constructive or beneficial to the table within this organization.
The company is a family owned business with a 35 year track record of taking care of their people and growing through their employees.  This growth has been so successful that they are the acknowledged market leaders in their particular business sector.  That success is what has put them on the radar screen of the union.  There is no unfairly treated workforce, no history of abusive work practices and no line up of workers pleading for help.  This is a good company filled with great people who just happen to be extremely good at what they do.  Their success means they now employee a large number of people and it is that labor role that is attracting the union.  The union has not been called in to fix some great wrong or to defend some poor weak group that needs a voice.  The union’s motives are clear and simple.  They see a great potential of dues, income, money!
This particular union has a well-documented track record of moving across North America using media smear campaigns against the employer and intimidation tactics against the workers to further their own success.  In this case the union is smearing the name of a good company with no regard for what is right or wrong or who might be getting hurt.  The family that has proudly grown this company for generations feel like they are being personally attacked and they have a lot of trouble understanding why.  The basic principles of providing a quality product and offering superior customer service to customers with whom you build a relationship and respecting and take caring for the people who deliver these services mean nothing to this union.  They will say anything and do anything to achieve their own goals and who they are doing it to or what the truth is seems to be irrelevant.
So the court documents are being filed and the lawsuits are piling up.  This reputable Edmonton company finds itself in full defense mode.  New skills are being learned about how to proactively defend yourself from an unwarranted and unfair attack.  The owners of the business feel attacked, senior management is angry and the front line workers are scared and confused.  But to the union it’s just business.
It is disgusting that this can occur in our business community.  Wrong is wrong no matter how you spin it.

A Media Game Changer

For the past four months, I have been predicting a game changer in the media world. What if some company, let’s for fun just call it oh, Google for no particular reason were to decide to go into the mainstream television business.

What if they were to start buying up the biggest shows on network TV; Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, the Super Bowl, Dr. Phil, just to name a few. Then they start streaming the shows directly to your computer or your newly web-enabled TV for free. That’s right, free. No charge. Sort of the same model Google used when they purchased Analytics and started giving it away as a free product.

Cable, satellite, and all other transmission systems along with the conventional television networks would be out of business, instantly obsolete.

Is this a crazy, impossible idea? Perhaps but I don’t think so. I think it is just one boardroom decision away from being our new reality and yes it would be a game changer. And just remember, you heard it here first.

Oh by the way, guess what Google announced yesterday, their new web enabling TV service.