Strategists in Human Capital!
Affinity International Consulting presents Futurepoint

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Discrimination on grounds of age during recruitment process



CollierBroderick The recent Tennis Ireland case before the WRC, reported in IRN, resulted in the WRC Adjudication Officer deciding that  Tennis Ireland had discriminated against the former director of development at the International Tennis Federation, on the ground of age, when it selected a less qualified candidate for the post of chief executive.

The claimant was significantly better qualified


The  Adjudication Officer (AO) said that both candidates for the post had qualifications and experience which enabled them to meet the requirements of Tennis Ireland. The AO said that the claimant “was significantly better qualified” and had all the professional experience required in the sport.

The claimant had considerable experience in sports management, having been in a senior position with the International Tennis Federation for 24 years.  It was contended that his age, 58, was the reason for his not securing the appointment.  The successful comparator was 44 years of age when he applied.

The claimant said his interview notes had been marked by a board member with the word “mature”, which he said was a direct reference to his age.

Tennis Ireland acknowledged the complainant’s extensive experience but strenuously denied that the word “mature” on interview notes intended any negative connotation with the claimant’s age.

Selection process


In the first round of interviews, the successful candidate came in first place and the complainant in second place.

The final decision was made by a seven-person subcommittee composed of the respondent, “but without the person from Sports Ireland who had previously sat on the interview board”.

The respondent’s chairperson said that it was felt that the complainant’s experience in his international role “was too high level for what the respondent needed” and that the successful candidate had garnered 5 of the 7 available votes.

Successful candidate significantly less qualified and younger


The AO said that the differences between the complainant and the successful candidate “really are significant”.  The successful candidate was “significantly less qualified” and together with an age difference of about 14 years, this established facts from which age discrimination may be inferred.

He said that a voting process “can be influenced by conscious or sub conscious discriminatory motives as much as any other human activity.”

He said that the reasons given by the chairperson for the appointment of the successful candidate, that he had better “grassroots experience” and “on the ground” experience in terms of sponsorship and that he knew, for example, where to source cheap Astroturf, “make less sense when one considers that they relate to an entirely different sport…..which bears little resemblance to the sport which the respondent is responsible for”.  Furthermore the complainant had worked his way up as an administrator and had experience at a “mundane level” of administering his sport, as much as at the top.

While any organisation is entitled to emphasise the immediate challenges which the new hire needs to address the AO said “there is simply nothing in the complainant’s cv which would explain why the … respondent felt it could not trust the complainant to meet those challenges”.

Case Law


The AO drew on the case of Kathleen Moore Walsh v WIT. The Court held that in cases which involve the filling of posts, it is not the Court’s function to substitute its views on the merits of candidates for those of the decision makers.  What it must do is ensure the selection process is not tainted by unlawful discrimination.

He also drew on O’Halloran v Galway City Partnership, in which the Court pointed out that the qualifications criteria are a matter for the employer “in every case”, as long as these are not indirectly discriminatory.  It is only if the chosen criteria are applied inconsistently as between candidates, or an unsuccessful candidate is clearly better qualified, that an inference of discrimination could arise.

The AO’s Decision


The AO concluded that it was clear the chosen criteria were applied inconsistently. He said that both candidates had qualifications and experience which enabled them to meet the respondent’s stated priorities, but the complainant was significantly better qualified and had all the professional experience needed.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

8 Books Every Consultant Should Read at Least Once!

You probably already know that being well-read is a must in the consulting world. Consultants are expected to have a broad knowledge of management, as well as good understanding of finance, strategy, and communications—among other things. But if you’re looking to up your consulting game , it’s hard to know where to start among the wealth of resources out there. So this week, I rounded up the eight books that have helped me along my consultant journey and career. Whether you’re applying for a job, trying to develop new skills, or just trying to kill some time, these books will help you learn tons more about the field.

1. The McKinsey Way : While this book is focused on a specific firm, the insights and recommendations from it are applicable across the entire industry. The book doesn’t go very deep into specific frameworks or methods and instead focuses on how to survive at “The Firm” and some of the cultural considerations of working and succeeding in consulting. It’s a good read for those just getting into the industry who want to understand more about the mindset and day-to-day work of consultants. Check Out Jobs at McKinsey

2. HBR'S 10 Must Reads: The Essentials It’s important to have at least a basic understanding of major theories and academic thought within the business field, and for this, HBR’s 10 Must Reads is a great place to start. This book compiles the top 10 articles on management and covers topics such as innovation, strategy, analytics, and managing change. Once you finish the essentials, HBR also offers Top 10 reads on specific topics , like strategy or change management, to deepen your knowledge.

3. Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies This tome is an essential read from a technical standpoint and also aids in understanding the underlying drivers of major corporations. If you are new to how organizations are valued, it will walk you through tactics on how to approach it. If you just want an overview on how financial statements tie to the share price and the decision making process of organizations, you’ll get a great overview. And if you’ve been asked to value a company or to gain a deeper financial understanding of organizations, this book is the ultimate reference.

4. Key Management Models: The 60+ Models Every Manager Needs to Know Because consulting is all about structured problem-solving, it’s important to become familiar with tools that you can use to help solve your clients’ problems. The book covers a range of models, from strategic to operational, and provides information on how and when to use each of them. I use it as a quick reference guide when faced with a new client problem or question.

5. Pyramid Principle: I’ve talked about the Pyramid Principle before , as it is one of the most quoted and widely used frameworks for structuring communications in consulting. It essentially explains that, in any communication, you should start with your recommendation, arrange supporting ideas into groups, and then provide detailed evidence in order to effectively support your story. If you have read the Cole’s notes on the framework and want to go deeper into how to apply it, then I would recommend diving into the full book.

6. The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures In the day-to-day work of a consultant, you will participate in a number of meetings, planning sessions, and workshops that require you to explain complex ideas or processes simply. This book gives you tools to do that with the help of of graphics and pictures. I love it as a reference guide when planning a meeting or presentation.

7. Case Interview Secrets: A Former McKinsey Interviewer Reveals How to Get Multiple Job Offers in Consulting If you haven’t heard of Victor Chang yet, he’s a case interview guru who has helped many people secure prime consulting offers. In his book, he outlines how to approach case interviews and provides tips and tricks on what interviewers look for—as well as common mistakes that candidates make. It’s a must-read for anyone going through the interview process.

8. The Consultant With Pink Hair This story about the management of a struggling consulting practice provides an entertaining look at the lives of consultants—working late nights, struggling with client management, and managing competition. While it’s technically fictional, it’s very based in truth, and there is a lot of real learning you can get out of it

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Strategy as 'direction' or strategy as 'plan'. What's your viewpoint?

Strategy as 'direction' or strategy as 'plan'. What's your viewpoint?


Proponents of strategy as a plan asserted that through careful consideration of options, organisations are forced to understand their environments, in turn stimulating new ideas, which ultimately produce economic value (Thompson & Strickland, 1987; Steiner, 1979). This link between performance and planning has not been unanimous, with authors often questioning any systematic link between the two (Shrader et al, 1984; Pearce et al, 1987; Armstrong, 1986). Furthermore, as ideas and best practice rapidly spread, operational effectiveness increases across sectors often reducing the positive correlation between planning and performance close to zero; Powell (1992) calls this the ‘planning equilibrium’.
This view of strategy as a plan is commonplace. Drucker (1974) defined it as “purposeful action”; it is created consciously with a goal in mind prior to any actions (Mintzberg 1987a). More broadly, strategy is concerned with achieving success (Grant, 2016), allowing organisations to focus on what really matters (Sminia, 2014), driving performance (Sminia & de Rond, 2013). For Porter (1991) it is the fundamental core of whether an organisation wins or loses, in order to succeed organisations must create unique and differentiated propositions made up of different activities (1996). Simply put, it is about doing things differently or doing different things from the competition.
The creation of long-term strategic plans can be important, particularly for branded products, set against a backdrop where maintaining market leadership and with it the ability to sustain superior profits is ever more challenging (Gehlhar et al, 2009). However, Mintzberg (1987b) cautions that although strategy is needed to outsmart competitors, which is at the essence of its formulation (Porter, 1979), it can sometimes obfuscate the need for operational excellence, moreover, at times it may be better to proceed without the straitjacket of a clear plan in uncertain waters.
As instability and uncertainty have increased in the business environment, strategy has become less about detailed plans and more about direction. This century has seen a plethora of new challenges and an accelerating pace of change which has meant that strategy has become less about plans and more about options for the future (Grant, 2016). Mintzberg (1987a) calls this strategy as ‘perspective’, it has become more about “an ingrained way of perceiving the world” (p.16) which then sets course for future actions. Williamson (1999) seeks to meld both planning and perspective, critical of the deficiencies in strategic planning’s ability to correctly forecast the future with any accuracy, he suggests combining planning with opportunism. Companies should plan the capabilities needed and new potential markets in order to give them room to manoeuvre, creating strategic options that can be utilised when the time is right.
The change in emphasis from strategy as a plan to strategy as direction does not mean that its importance has lessened, whether adapting to and exploiting digital technology, creating strategic alliances or matching up to the changing demands of social and environmental responsibility, strategy in this context has an increased importance for organisations (Grant, 2016).
In today’s competitive marketplace organisation’s require a constant focus to ensure consistency between internal strategy and the external environment in order to stay relevant and respond to customers’ needs and wants. Indeed, for companies to outperform the market they achieve a sustainable competitive advantage (Aaker, 1989; Porter, 1989), which means that the organisation must create a superior value proposition for its customers. In order to do this the company must have sufficient understanding of its external environment, specifically its target market, so as to be able to create this superior value (Narver & Slater, 1990).
If your organisation needs to evaluate it's existing strategy, or indeed need help in creating either an Organisational or Marketing Strategy in order to compete in today's ever competitive business environment, feel free to get in touch and let us help you compete both now, but also for the future.


‘The only thing that we know about the future is that it is going to be different’ (Drucker, 1973). The change alluded to by Drucker is applicable for all things but is particularly resonant for business. Failure to adapt to change has led to the demise of numerous organisations’ both large and small over the past 15 years (Forbes, 2013). Those companies that have managed to stand the test of time have understood Drucker’s assertion and been able to adapt their business and strategy to fit the external forces shaping their markets. Invariably when thinking about strategy, the word plan is often the first that comes to mind (Martin, 2014). This is no surprise as although the conception of strategy has developed over the last fifty years planning, through the financial budgeting and corporate planning of the mid-twentieth century, was the keystone of strategic management.

Thomas McAlinden & Ryan Lydon

Monday, July 31, 2017

8 silly work place rules..do you agree?

Companies need to have rules — that’s a given — but they don’t have to be shortsighted and lazy attempts at creating order. I understand the temptation. As my company has grown, so has our difficulty maintaining standards. There have been many instances where someone crossed a line, and we were tempted to respond with a new rule that applied to everyone. But that’s where most companies blow it. In just about every instance, upon closer inspection, we realized that establishing a new rule would be a passive and morale-killing way to address the problem. The vast majority of the time, the problem needs to be handled one-on-one by the employee’s manager. When companies create ridiculous and demoralizing rules to halt the outlandish behavior of a few individuals, it’s a management problem. There’s no sense in alienating your entire workforce because you don’t know how to manage performance. It makes a bad situation that much worse. Here are some of the worst rules that companies create when they fall into this trap.

1. Bell curves and forced rankings of performance Some individual talents follow a natural bell-shaped curve, but job performance does not. When you force employees to fit into a pre-determined ranking system, you do three things: 1) incorrectly evaluate people’s performance, 2) make everyone feel like a number, and 3) create insecurity and dissatisfaction when performing employees fear that they’ll be fired due to the forced system. This is yet another example of a lazy policy that avoids the hard and necessary work of evaluating each individual objectively, based on his or her merits.

2. Ridiculous requirements for attendance, leave, and time off People are salaried for the work they do, not the specific hours they sit at their desks. When you ding salaried employees for showing up five minutes late even though they routinely stay late and put in time on the weekend, you send the message that policies take precedence over performance. It reeks of distrust, and you should never put someone on salary that you don’t trust. When companies are unnecessarily strict in requiring documentation for bereavement and medical leave, it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of employees who deserve better. After all, if you have employees who will fake a death to miss a day’s work, what does that say about your company?

3. Restricting Internet use There are certain sites that no one should be visiting at work, and I’m not talking about Facebook. But once you block pornography and the other obvious stuff, it’s a difficult and arbitrary process deciding where to draw the line. Most companies draw it in the wrong place. People should be able to kill time on the Internet during breaks. When companies unnecessarily restrict people’s Internet activity, it does more than demoralize those that can’t check Facebook; it limits people’s ability to do their jobs. 7/31/2017 8 stupid workplace rules that make everyone miserable | Ladders Many companies restrict Internet activity so heavily that it makes it difficult for people to do online research. The most obvious example? Checking the Facebook profile of someone you just interviewed.

4. Banning mobile phones If I ban mobile phones in the office, no one will waste time texting and talking to family and friends, right? Ya, right. Organizations need to do the difficult work of hiring people who are trustworthy and who won’t take advantage of things. They also need to train managers to deal effectively with employees who under perform and/or violate expectations (such as spending too much time on their phones). This is also hard work, but it’s worth it. The easy, knee-jerk alternative (banning phones) demoralizes good employees who need to check their phones periodically due to pressing family or health issues or as an appropriate break from work.

5. Draconian e-mail policies This is a newer one that’s already moving down a slippery slope. Some companies are getting so restrictive with e-mail use that employees must select from a list of pre-approved topics before the e-mail software will allow them to send a message. Again, it’s about trust. If you don’t trust your people to use e-mail properly, why did you hire them in the first place? In trying to rein in the bad guys, you make everyone miserable every time they send an e-mail. And guess what? The bad guys are the ones who will find ways to get around any system you put in place.

6. Stealing employees’ frequent-flyer miles If there’s one thing that road-weary traveling employees earn, it’s their frequent flier miles. When employers don’t let people keep their miles for personal use, it’s a greedy move that fuels resentment with every flight. Work travel is a major sacrifice of time, energy, and sanity. Taking employees’ miles sends the message that you don’t appreciate their sacrifice and that you’ll hold on to every last dollar at their expense.

7. Pathetic attempts at political correctness Maintaining high standards for how people treat each other is a wonderful thing as we live in a world that’s rife with animosity and discrimination. Still employers have to know where to draw the line. Going on a witch-hunt because someone says “Bless you” to another employee that sneezed (real example) creates an environment of paranoia and stifled self-expression, without improving how people treat each other. 8. Shutting down self-expression (personal items and dress code) Many organizations control what people can have at their desks. A life-size poster of a shirtless Fabio? I get it; that’s a problem. But employers dictate how many photographs people can display, whether or not they can use a water bottle, and how many items they’re allowed to place on their desks. Once again, it’s the ol’ “If I could just hire robots I wouldn’t have this problem” approach. Same goes for dress codes. They work well in private high schools, but they’re unnecessary at work. Hire professionals and they’ll dress professionally. When someone crosses the line, their manager needs to have the skill to address the issue directly. Otherwise, you’re making everyone wish they worked somewhere else because management is too inept to handle touchy subjects effectively.

8 stupid workplace rules that make everyone miserable | Ladders Bringing it all together If companies can rethink their policies and remove or alter those that are unnecessary or demoralizing, we’ll all have a more enjoyable and productive time at work.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Adapting to the Future of Work



CMOs can take a proactive approach to preparing the workforce for the tremendous technology-enabled changes required to compete in the years ahead.
Digital technology is having a profound effect on the human side of the enterprise, affecting where, when, and how employees get work done. The results of Deloitte’s recent Future of Work survey confirm that C-level executives view the ways in which new technologies will shape their organizations and their own roles as a topic of critical importance. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those surveyed say it is a strategic objective to transform their organization’s culture with a focus on increasing connectivity, communication, and collaboration.
Even as more business functions are augmented by new technology capabilities, people remain the most critical asset of an organization. Going forward, those people will be working in a more networked, distributed, mobile, collaborative, and real-time fluid manner. Such significant shifts will demand not only increased adaptability on the part of employees, but deliberate forethought from executives introducing new systems and processes to make sure the transition goes smoothly. Forward-thinking CMOs will ensure that work, increasingly done by human and machine in concert, is coordinated to create maximum value for the company and its employees.
When approached with consideration to the impact on work and workers, digital technologies offer the opportunity to create a more engaging environment for employees and a more adaptive organization for the future. The survey offers a glimpse of what executives expect this future to look like as well as six lessons for business leaders who will usher in the technologies to enable new ways of working and also manage the changes within their own talent organizations.
Pay attention to culture. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of those surveyed believe company culture will be critically important to their organization’s ability to realize its vision in the future. The larger the company, the more important this issue becomes. Just 14 percent of those who responded say that culture has no, little, or neutral impact on their ability to realize their vision and mission—and the majority of respondents were from smaller companies.
Developing a common mission and a sense of belonging in a workforce that is increasingly dispersed will grow ever more important. Just 14 percent of leaders say they are completely satisfied with their organization’s current ability to communicate and collaborate. CMOs and other executives who want to achieve the full value of digital transformations will pay close attention to the development and dissemination of communication around workplace changes. Putting in place more efficient decision-making structures and tools (42 percent) and allocating more employee time and resources to innovation by making current processes more efficient (41 percent) are the two most important changes respondents expect to make within the next two years.
Increase transparency. About three in five (59 percent) corporate leaders say transparency in communications is a critical priority for achieving their organization’s goals. Involving employees in technology-enabled changes will be more challenging than in the past. After all, 37 percent of the global workforce is mobile, 30 percent of full-time employees now do most of their work outside of their employers’ location, and 20 percent of the workforce comprises temporary workers, contractors, and freelancers, according to another Deloitte report. More clarity and openness around the exploration and introduction of digital technologies will help employees adapt to significant and more frequent shifts in their roles.
Manage generational expectations. By 2020, millennials will make up half of the workforce. However, individuals are also more commonly working into their 70s and 80s. As leaders manage a workforce comprising up to four different cohorts, managing across generations will be more important than ever. Nearly four in five (78 percent) executives say generational differences in employees’ expectations will drive an increased emphasis on devolved collaboration, whereby ownership of decisions is delegated down through the organization. The key will be building an environment that supports flexibility and tools that enable all employees to collaborate and exchange ideas easily and transparently.
Measure the business impact. The strategic importance of transforming collaboration and communication is based on the assumption that such advances will yield hard business results in an increasingly competitive, interconnected, and fast-moving world. The biggest benefits executives expect to derive from improved collaboration and communication include identifying and exploiting new business opportunities and increasing rates of innovation (see figure below).
C-level executives spearheading the digital transformation of work can identify the specific business benefits their organizations are targeting and regularly measure. They can then report on key indicators associated with those goals, making adjustments to strategy as required based on performance.
Create context. The way we work in five years may look little like it does today. For example, 76 percent of executives surveyed predict their organizations will move away from email and toward more sophisticated collaboration tools. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) expect a significant increase in cross-cultural virtual teaming technologies. And around 8 in 10 (78 percent) think mobile will be the dominant technology environment within five years.
But new tools alone are not enough. The time that workers spend today answering email (an average of 25 percent of the day) or checking their mobile phones (around 150 times a day) is not necessarily increasing productivity. As leaders sit on the cusp of potentially more sweeping technology-enabled changes, they can take this time to develop the right cultural context for these new tools and adapt their workplace processes and policies to make the most of digital capabilities on the way.
Build networks, not hierarchies. More than 40 percent of respondents expect to place more focus on facilitating the exchange of ideas, enabling the flow of conversations across the organization, and providing greater autonomy at team and individual levels going forward. This shift from a “top-down” to “side-by-side” organizational construct will be a critical component to the future of work. CMOs will play an important role, enabling an empowered network of employees capable of acting autonomously rather than waiting for direction.
—by Stephen Redwood and Mark Holmstrom, principals, Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Zach Vetter, managing director, Deloitte LLP

Sample list of colleges, our clients have attended.

Process Overview

Continual Professional Development

We provide comprehensive continual professional development to professional associations auch as The Irish Law Society, Institute of Engineers of Ireland, The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and other leading professional associations.

Questions to ask Yourself

Drop us your email

In return, as a valued client, we will provide you with discount vouchers on select upcoming programmes. You will also receive advance purchase notification on "high demand" master class programmes.

Email:




Please note that we take your privacy seriously

Specialist Training

If you are a Corporate entity, SME, or a "not for profit" organisation with a specific niche training requirement, please contact us.

With our extensive national and world-wide network of training consultants, we are able to identify, source and fully arrange your training completely in line with your requirements.

Strategic Management

Strategic Management

We are very proud to deliver the only short course on strategic management available in Ireland. This course has been designed to be delivered in house and is specifically tailored for the Irish multi national IDA high value manufacturing and services sector. The programme is delivered over 20 hours as an integrated format over modules decided by the client. Strategy only works when everyone is on the same page and for this reason we offer this programme for each management forum to take advantage of this unique opportunity. It is fundamental knowledge that companies that have a strong foundation and understanding of strategy and how it shapes future sustainable success are the business units that achieve prolonged success within the greater company structure. Simply put, the business unit that talks the language of the CEO attracts the greatest interest and capital input. Success is always built on strategy. See a sample of our strategic training work.
Providing management solutions and training through consultancy contracts in operations and HR management.
Website by: Déise Design