The Importance of a Clear Vision

Alot of my recent work has included facilitating strategic planning sessions for various groups and the improving of group dynamics and communication among groups where assumptions and hunching has replaced clear, efficient and respectful communication and understanding. 

A foundational aspect of any group is the answer to the questions, "Why do we exist and where do we want our work taking us?

In other words, a clearly understood and clearly supported mission statement and vision for the organization. 

However, the concepts of a mission and vision statement are often viewed with much skepticism because they are seen as having little value to the success of the organization.

I suggest that the planks of a mission statement and vision often serve little value to organizations only because many groups do not understand their significance and do not communicate them effectively to the world.

I was reminded of this fact when listening to the CBC radio program, Sunday Edition on April 13.

The program featured the story of the Norwegian national oil wealth fund and compared it to the Alberta Heritage Fund. 

While Alberta's fund currently sits at about 17 billion dollars, Norway's fund is reaching 850 billion dollars-50 times larger than Alberta's!  

The man who developed the fund in Norway attributed the difference to the fact that Norway had a clear mission and vision as to why the fund existed and what its purpose was and further that this was communicated to everyone.

A clear mission and clear vision that is well communicated. 

Someting to be said about that....           



The Point of it All?

I was giving training last week for an agency on effective team communication and negotiation.  During the training I was emphasizing the importance of drawing as much information as possible from the other party before setting out our own perspective.  I was asked a very interesting question by one of the attendees of the training.  The question was asked if the point of this approach was to somehow gain an advantage over the other side by having them put their cards on the table first!  Of course the purpose of this approach is quite the opposite.  The purpose of truly understanding the other party's perspective first is because then and only then do we really have enough information to decide how we are best going to approach the outstanding issues and then work together to formulate a solution that addresses both our needs to move things forward.            

The Importance of Starting Early

It is always advantageous to consider mediation earlier, rather than later, in any conflict or dispute.  I hear from people who have become entagled in conflict at work or in their persoanl lives and often the first thing that happens between the warring parties is that thier communication ceases.  Perhaps and worse yet, their communication may continue but in a very non-productive, toxic and dysfunctional manner which leads to further entrenchment in the "rightness" of their own perspectives.  If the parties involved in the dispute then pursue the adversarial environment of the courts, the opportunity to really understand what is happening and why often gets lost in the mist of many years and countless thousands of dollars spent trying to prove who is "right" or trying to "win."  The option of mediation as a means to resolve the outstanding issues between them is often only considered after everyone has dug in their heels and no one wants to move off their positions.   

The earlier mediation is attempted an any conflictual situation, the easier it is to move forward more quickly.  Mediation is all about finding out what the outstanding issues are which need to be resolved and allowing the parties to use a neutral, objective mediator to help them take control of developing solutions that work  for them.  A mediated agreement can then be brought to court and filed as a consent order to ensure that all parties follow through on the commitments made in the agreement.                       

What You Need to Know About Alberta’s New Energy Regulator

By Alasdair G. MacKinnon

During the hectic early weeks of last December, while most of us were out shopping for Christmas presents and preparing for the upcoming holiday, government officials in Alberta were putting the finishing touches on a different kind of gift package.

The Responsible Energy Development Act of Alberta was given Royal Assent on December 10, 2012 and became law with little fanfare. But, its low-key unveiling should not be seen as a reflection of the impact this important legislation will have on farmers and landowners in Alberta — and potentially across Canada.

This new act is changing the provincial regulatory landscape in Alberta with respect to oil and gas exploration and development. Essentially, it creates a one-stop-shop for energy companies that are currently wrapped in a web of government bureaucracy as they try to obtain all of the necessary permits. The act also addresses concerns of the public by establishing an enforcement agency to deal with the oil and gas industry that will enforce a number of provincial environmental statutes under one roof.  

The fact that Alberta isn’t the only province in Canada with a thriving energy industry means that this new model, if deemed a success, could become a template for neighbouring oil-and-gas producing provinces.

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What Rights Do You Have to Check Your Workers Facebook Page?

Aaah... technology....The joys of using social media such as Twitter, Linked, Blogs and Facebook.

Facebook like other forms of social media allows individuals and businesses to communicate like never before. However, it also shows the increased blurring between individuals work and private lives particularly where staff write in a negative way about their employers.

Employees have always said and written things about their bosses and their workplaces but with Facebook news can travel really fast.

All employers now face a dilemma- On the one hand you want to protect your reputation and your business interests. On the other hand there is increased regulation and yes, your staff are entitled to a private life and to express themselves.

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Upcoming Training

Do not miss your opportunity to attend SKILLS FOR FRONTLINE LEADERS next offered on three consecutive Thursdays, November 16, November 23 and November 30 at the Baymont Inn (Red Deer Lodge) in downtown Red Deer.  Alasdair MacKinnon and Justin Flunder will be facilitating this 3 day leadership skill building program.  This certificate progrm qualifys for 2/3 of the training cost reimbursed through the Alberta Job Grant Program.  For more information, check out 



Conflict resolution focus of communication workshop

By Paul Grigaitis, MVP Staff - Innisfail Province, Tuesday March 12, 2013

About a dozen locals attended the first session of a four-part, town-sponsored communication workshop focused on conflict resolution at the Library Learning Centre last week.

That's when chartered mediator and registered family mediator Alasdair MacKinnon of MacKinnon Communications Group encouraged participants to strive to understand others better in order to overcome conflict.

"Communications training is important because if affects all aspects of our lives - personal, professional, family - and we tend to take it for granted," MacKinnon said. "There are actual skills that we can learn to make our communication more effective and so I think it's very important to create awareness for people so that they can begin to work on developing those skills ."

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