Start your own #consultancy #business from scratch..

So you really want to start your own Consultancy business from scratch !?

ppt1Here are some tips I hope will help:-

  • Identify your key skills – if you want to sell yourself as a Consultant the first thing you need to identify is the skills you possess which people will be willing to pay for. If you can’t do this don’t give up your day job.
  • Develop a Business Plan – don’t put it off because you can’t be bothered or don’t think it’s necessary. If you want people to take you seriously as a Business you need to start thinking like a Business.
  • Identify your target market – who are you going to sell your skills to ? – your current or former employer perhaps ? Former customers or suppliers, ex colleagues, business partners etc etc
  • Network – Develop your contacts, LinkedIn is great for this but don’t forget about your address book & business card collection.
  • Have a look at the Professional Contractors Group website – it has a fantastic free downloadable guide for freelancers/consultants.
  • If you still want to take the plunge this is perhaps the hardest step of all – You will need a MINIMUM of 6 months income in the bank before you start. Do not plan to earn anything from your Consultancy business for the first six months. If you really want to succeed with your own Consultancy business you will find this money. If you see this as too big a hurdle then sorry but Consultancy is not for you.

Look out for my new book “Start your own Consultancy – Now!”

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Internet of Things edges closer #innovation

The Internet of Things edges closer at the Port of Hamburg. 40,000 vehicles move through the port daily & a smart network of sensors on roads & in parking places is helping to speed the flow. This is the Internet of Things (IOT) in a real world application. The system delivers real time information to a variety of computer systems enabling Logistics to be managed more effectively.

IOT2The real benefits will come with machine to machine communications completely independent of human input. This is the ultimate destination of the IOT & is truly ‘disruptive technology’.

Imagine in the near future the same technology willM62 take direct control of your car during periods of heavy congestion, eliminating bunching & moving large volumes of vehicles inches apart at a constant speed.

The Internet of Things will change society forever & is another example of technology which causes a seismic shift.

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2014 – Year of Discovery……..#automotive

This year has been an extremely exciting & challenging one for me personally. In January 2014 I signed a 12 month contract with Tata Technologies as Lead Engineer in Exterior Trim developing & bringing to production Jaguar Land Rovers’s Freelander replacement the new ‘Discovery Sport’.

In January I was based in TTL’s Coventry office but spent a lot of time at JLR’s Browns Lane plant in the West Midlands, historical home of Jaguar Cars & now utilised as a Pilot Plant for small scale production.

Walking into Browns Lane was a great experience personally as I met many old friends from JLR having worked on the Range Rover Sport Programme. Although it is a large organization employing many thousands its amazing how many people you get to know working on a project for 18 months.

The pilot build is known as VP build & this stage of the process is very much a learning process. Some trim parts are still not ‘off tool’ & its all about capturing issues via the Automated Issues Management system. This AIMs system is used to track issues & ensure the proper fix is put in place before closure. It provides visibility to Senior Management & its administration is one of the Lead Engineer’s key tasks along with developing engineering solutions & working with key suppliers to ensure timely delivery of quality parts. Most issues require a PACN (to support financial justification) & a Engineering Release to implement the change. As most Engineers are responsible for numerous parts time is rapidly eroded before its time for the next build – Hard Tool Functional Build (HTFB)

This build took place at JLR’s Halewood plant where the Discovery Sport is to be mass produced & which was to be my base for the next 8 months.

Halewood is a large plant which covers several square miles & employs over 8,000 people.  Most of the Product Coaches & Line Engineers were involved in the Browns Lane builds so there were many familiar faces at Halewood as well as plenty new ones. Halewood is one of JLR’s centres of excellence & the Engineering knowledge here is second to none.

Over the next 8 months we embarked on a number of builds increasing in numbers & complexity. This is a very stressful period for all & the nearer Volume Launch approaches the pressure piles on.

It was with a mixture of relief & a great sense of achievement  when Volume Launch in December was achieved and cars began rolling off the production line at a rate of one every 40 seconds !!

It is important to recognise the economic importance of this model; Tata have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in this venture which has created several thousand jobs at Halewood & employed hundreds of thousands in the wider supply chain. With JLR’s commitment to source 60% of parts within a 40 mile radius the importance to the Regional Economy cannot be underestimated.

To play a small part in this great venture & to help take the Discovery Sport from initial concept to volume production brings a great sense of pride & achievement.

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Time IS Money………….

Right First TimeThere are loads of books offering advice on Time Management, some useful & some trite like ‘we all have 24 hours in a day’ which is great if you also have a host of assistants to do the menial chores whilst you sit back & contemplate. Most of us don’t have that luxury with busy lives & demanding bosses, we often struggle to manage our own time effectively  completing tasks quickly but not necessarily  efficiently.

How often do you have to go back & correct something you did in a rush ? Thinking you were being efficient only to waste more future time putting it right. Very soon we can end up chasing our own tails like deranged dogs.

One way to improve our use of time is to think of it like money. The more effort put into completing a task ‘right first time’ is like putting savings in a high interest account. You expend a little more effort immediately but don’t have to return to it later to correct errors. This frees up more ‘future time’. The alternative is like spending on a credit card. You want it now & end up paying ‘through the nose’ later.

Get it ‘right first time’ consistently & over time you will spend more time contemplating & less chasing your tail.

Follow the #Leader

leaderGood Managers don’t neccessarily make good Leaders & vice versa. Leaders can be found in any strata of society and it is probably true to say they are born rather than made although, they often need to be discovered. Here are some key leadership traits:-

  • Leaders swim against the tide.
  • They are often mavericks who don’t follow ‘the rules’ even the ones they create.
  • They lead by example and practice what they preach.
  • They are resillient and mentally strong.
  • Often loathed as much as loved.
  • Don’t care what everyone else thinks.
  • Lead by inspiration.
  • Upset people by stirring things up.
  • Are often considered ‘awkward’ or demanding.

Are you a follower or a Leader ?



Are you a headless chicken?………………….#innovation

You must be doing something really important eh ? running around like a headless chicken all day putting those fires out. You haven’t got time to headless-chickenthink about future products because your far too busy fixing the current ones!
But hang on a minute……if your not focusing on those future products where is your future revenue coming from when all the old ones become obsolete?

How do you escape this vicious circle ?

  • Keep a timesheet to find out how much time you spend fire fighting & how much on future products.
  • You will probably find it’s 80/20
  • To turn this around you need to gradually increase the time you spend on future product development  to 80%
  • Resist the urge to persist in fire fighting.
  • As time progresses the time you spend on fire fighting will decrease because you have put more effort into your future product development, getting it right first time and minimising the need for fire fighting.

so, are you a headless chicken ?

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Stage gate process aids product development #pmot

ISO9001designprocessIn the Automotive# industry thousands of individual components are designed, developed, prototyped, tested and tuned silmultaneously to be brought together as a finished car which has to meet exacting standards for safety, perfomance and reliability.

An incredible feat of engineering and project management which is made possible by the effective use of a rigorous stage gate process based on ISO9001 . Here the output of one stage has to meet pre-defined standards before the project is allowed to move to the next stage.

The key to continued success is the fine tuning of the process itself based on ‘lessons learned’ from previous projects.

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What is #Quality ?….

RolexQuality has a number of definitions, ‘fit for purpose’, ‘exceeding expectations’ ‘meeting specifications’. It can be a tricky thing to measure but we all know it when we perceive it.

Take a Rolex watch for example, the materials used in its construction, its finish, its mechanical integrity all tell us it is  a ‘Quality’ item – this is naturally reflected in its price.

Although lots of fakes exist it is impossible to replicate the original without investing the same levels of workmanship and materials into it’s manufacture. This gives us a clue as to the origin of the Quality of the object. It lies in the specification & manufacture of the object within a given set of tolerances.

This is reflected in the luxury end of the automotive industry where body panels are specified as beng within a tight dimensional tolerance which in previous generations of product may have been deemed impossible.

Such tolerances lead to a vehicle which is perceived as high Quality without the buyer neccesarily understanding why.

So, if we can capture the expectations of the customer & translate them into product specifications with tolerances we can design & build something which has increased added value & perceived customer Quality.

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#Lean empowerment……


At the heart of the Toyota Production System (sometimes referrred to as #Lean Production System) is the principle of ‘Jidoka’.

 According to Toyota “Jidoka means that a machine safely stops when the normal processing is completed. It also means that, should a quality / equipment problem arise, the machine detects the problem on its own and stops, preventing defective products from being produced. As a result, only products satisfying quality standards will be passed on to the following processes on the production line.”

But there is more to #Lean than this. The key component is the empowerment of the Operator to stop the process immediately a defect or potentialy defective process is discovered without referring the issue upward. The Operator can stop the production process without fear of retribution and is empowered to do so. This is a great responsibility and one which is not granted lightly, the Operator must be fully trained and the Organisation steeped in the culture of #Lean & #Kaizen (continuous improvement)

Granting  this autonomy is absolutely key to the success of the TPS philosophy & unleashes immense forces of creativity & quality improvement.

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Climate Change cries out for a technological solution

The International Protocol on Climate Change issued a comprehensive globereport this week which indicated that 95% of Scientists agreed that Global warming was as a direct result of human activity and that unless we take decisive and immediate action average surface temperatures will rise 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this Century resulting in catastrophic changes to our weather systems.

Only the most foolhardy or blinkered could ignore such a report but generating action is proving to be incredibly difficult.

It is no good for relatively wealthy westerners to criticize people in other parts of the world for wanting to grow their economies and as a result share in the increased wealth this brings. In the last Century we were doing exactly the same and, whatever the faults of free market Capitalism, there is no denying the wealth generating energies it unleashes.

What we need is a technological solution to Climate change which allows energy to continue to be consumed without the harmful effects of carbon dioxide generation from fossil fuels.

Vast parts of the globe are barren deserts which could be used for solar power generation. If we embarked on an International  Government backed enterprise to build a number of vast  solar arrays we could generate a massive amount of clean energy and at the same reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Of course this will not be easy and will bring massive engineering & scientific challenges (not to mention the political ones) but what could be more important than saving the planet on which we and our descendants live.

Allowing people to invest and profit from such an enterprise will guarantee success. This will allow continued economic growth without trashing the planet we all depend upon.

All it takes is some imaginative leadership from our Politicians, but maybe that’s asking too much ?

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