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Don Matheson, IMC USA Chair & CEO, periodically reports on the state of the Institute, including new benefits to members, strategic affiliations with other organizations, business issues affecting the consulting profession, member accomplishments, chapter activities, and activities of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI). Institute news can be found in the "News and Media" section of this site.

 

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Google Alerts and PR

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Wednesday, June 15, 2011
 
I have a number of Google Alerts set up (see  http://www.google.com/alerts) and, as a result, two emails popped up this week.  One from Career Guidance (http://www.careerguidance.com/management-consultant-career.html) was about becoming a management consultant.  The other, from Wise Geek (http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-i-become-a-strategy-consultant.htm) was addressing how to become a strategy consultant.  In both cases (and why they were picked up on Google Alerts) IMC USA was mentioned as a resource.  Nice to get this 'free' marketing in one week.  

Many of you, I suspect, wrestle with the issue of marketing and public relations.  Internally to IMC USA, we have our house organ, The Connector.  Kevin Berchelman, Houston, (http://blog.triangleperformance.com/) is our very capable editor and is helping improve not only the content but also the look-and-feel of this monthly newsletter. 

Like so many other volunteers within IMC USA, Kevin can't do it alone and asks for inputs and suggestions.  In his quest to improve our communications, Kevin also wants to feature individual accomplishments of our members.  

So, here is the opportunity.  In the same way Career Guidance and Wise Geek gave us some marketing assistance, you can think of The Connector as an additional avenue for you.  Did you receive an award?  Some recognition?  Atta-boy?  Let Kevin know; you might just get some coverage (of course, there are no promises, but what does it cost to try?).  

As members of IMC USA we do good work both for your clients and for the greater society. 

Promote yourselves and your work; we can try to assist you.  

Stay tuned,  

My best,  

David

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Ethics and An Update

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Thursday, June 2, 2011
Two quick things for an update.

Ethics

Mick James is a reporter for http://www.consultant-news.com.  I mentioned him in an earlier blog.  In his current entry http://www.consultant-news.com/article_display.aspx?p=adp&id=7904, James takes on consultancy ethics lapses, this time with the assistance of our own, Mark Haas, Chair of IMC USA's Ethics Committee.  It's an interesting read and is consistent with much of what I've been saying in Message from the Chair. 

Certified Management Consultant -- The Words

After at least a ten-year effort, started by Jerry Savin and others a decade ago, IMC USA just received noitce that the words, Certified Management Consultant, are now a registered mark.
Excerpting from the notice from the United States Patent and Trademark Office  (Reg. No. 3,964,134 if you are interested), "The mark consists of standard characters without claim to any particular font, style, size or color .... The certification mark, as used by authorized persons, certifies that the person has met the certification requirements of the Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc. and the international standards of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes as to experience, references, and ethics, by satisfactorily completing examinations relating to professional competence and current knowledge in the field of management consulting."

[Note: a quick way to insert the registered mark is to hold down the ALT key and type 0174 on the keypad!]

So, now when you use both the CMC® and the words, Certified Management Consultant®, you can rapidly add the mark at the end.  And, please do so.

Stay tuned,

My best,

David

 

Tags:  Certified Management Consultant  CMC  Consultant-News.com  Ethics  Mark Haas  Mick James  Trademark 

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Memorial Day and Confab

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Monday, May 30, 2011
It's Memorial Day morning and probably like most of us, my wife and I will spend the day with friends, chill-out, work in the yard and I may try to fix an electrical gremlin in my 1981 pickup. As you go through your day, enjoy your time however you have it planned.

From an editorial in today's Charlotte Observer, "But just for a few minutes, ... remember why there is a Memorial Day. Pay homage to the more than 650,000 U.S. service members who've died during combat since the American Revolution. Acknowledge the millions who have defended -- and still do defend -- our freedoms here and abroad. Without their commitment, dedication and sacrifice, celebrating a holiday with joy and confidence wouldn't be possible." It's the least we can do. And, if are a veteran or have a family member/loved one in the service, please feel free to leave a comment below as to what Memorial Day means to you. We would like hearing from you.

SAVE THE DATES:  October 22-24, 2011.  

Planning for CONFAB, IMC’s national conference, is well under way.  A record number of 90 speaker submissions was received and 24 sessions have been selected.  You can keep up to date on what’s happening at Confab by checking out the newly designed website, http://www.confabusa.org

Confab continues to be the professional consultants’ community with a mission to share, learn and connect with others of like mind.   Responding to feedback, Confab has found a new home at The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, a state-of-the-art, four-star property in the heart of the Reno Tahoe Sierras. October is the perfect time to visit Lake Tahoe, one of the great wonders of the world and only a spectacular 45 minute drive from your hotel.  

This year’s Confab committee is one of the most experienced, seeking to make this year’s conference the best experience ever.  Also new this year are special programs and tours for companions.  Registration has already started (I’m one of those already registered) and I encouraged you to do the same. 

Stay tuned,

My best,

David

Tags:  Confab  Confab 2011  IMC  Management Consulting 

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Am I Preaching to the Choir?

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Thursday, May 26, 2011
Over the last three days I received a number of missives regarding my past Message From the Chair, Amorality or Ethics – The Choice is Yours (May 22). 

Two in particular stand out; both are from people I trust.  One said, paraphrasing, "stop wasting time on blogging,” yet the other said, ".. keep blogging and telling the story.”  Ah, what to do?

The answer seems easy – in deference to the first trusted individual, part of leadership’s role is to be a spokesperson for the organization, and, accordingly, I’ll keep telling IMC USA’s story.  It’s a good story to tell, particularly in today’s business environment when ethics lapses in our industry make the mainstream press.

On May 25, Mick James wrote an article (http://www.consultant-news.com/article_display.aspx?p=adp&id=7876) for Consultant-News.com entitled, "Can We Trust Our Consultants?” in which he also used McKinsey & Co.’s Gupta situation to raise the question of "outside validation” in a very well worded article.  Quoting excerpts from Mick James:

"I believe this sort of exercise [DTN Note: using IMC (Britain) Code of Ethics to discuss ethics dilemmas], and particularly the reference to some sort of external structure, is vital. You don’t really need a very sophisticated moral compass to tell you what’s going on when someone stuffs a brown paper envelope full of cash in your pocket and you hand over an illicitly copied file. But you do need to be able to tell your clients and the world at large in very explicit terms that you run an organisation where not only is unethical behaviour not tolerated, but that the sort of self-questioning and education that underpins good practice is actively encouraged."

"Just like statements of corporate social responsibility and environmental concern, this sort of claim increasingly requires outside validation. Many consultancy firms have values statements that go far beyond anything any professional body could require of an industry as a whole. But on their own they are frankly as useful as a note from your mum saying you’re the handsomest boy in the school. …

"Subjecting yourself to external rules and constraints goes against the grain for consultants: they like to do their own thing, because they always believe they can do it better. But now that a cloud hangs over the industry, more needs to be done. Consultancy doesn’t need to be leaned up, but it needs to be seen to be clean: ironically, we can only assure others that we will respect their confidentiality if we are more transparent ourselves.”

Our tagline is Setting the Standard in Excellence and Ethics in Consulting and its impact is not to be underestimated.  I strongly believe that the greater business environment, unconsciously and perhaps unknowingly, is in great need of a front-runner in consulting excellence and ethics – the external validation (with external adjudication) that James wrote about.  Your association is uniquely positioned -- no one other than IMC USA owns this space, in fact, we are an association of professional, competent and ethical consultants; we all subscribe to the same code of ethics -- something to be proud of, I think.  In addition, we are the sole certifying body of management consultants in the U.S. and are an ISO/IEC accrediting body.

Am I preaching to the choir?  And, is Mick James doing the same?  I can’t speak for him, but I can say that, first, we have moved this Message from the Chair in front of the members-only firewall, and, second, that so far there are some 4,300 RSS feeds.  I don’t feel I am speaking only to IMC USA members; rather, there’s a larger audience perhaps listening in.   And, pass it on to others who may want to have Jame's "outside validation" of adherence to a Code of Ethics.

Stay tuned,

My best,

David

Tags:  Consultant-News.com  Ethics  IMC USA  Mick James 

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Amorality or Ethics -- the Choice is Yours

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Sunday, May 22, 2011
Is the Industry at the Intersection of Amorality and Ethics?

First, the dilemma. An associate and a friend chided me about posting too often to the Message From the Chair out of concern for over-populating your inbox with announcements of the most current post. I took the concern to heart and vowed to not post as often.

Well, until there was a confluence to two events: (1) hearing our guest speaker, Jenny Sutton, at the recent Leadership Summit, and (2) Consulting Magazine's current review in Book It! of Extract Value from Consultants, the new book by Sutton and her husband, Gordon Perchthold.  [Note: I referred to the book in my previous blog.]. The review of the book took a Q&A format and several of the authors' responses struck me. Excerpting just one for this Message From the Chair:

"Consulting: Do you think the consulting profession has lost its way over the past few decades, either from an ethical standpoint or a performance standpoint? It's certainly taken its share of black eyes."

"Perchthold: First of all, you called it a profession and it's not a profession, actually. It had aspirations of being a profession at one point, but it never got there. It doesn't support an industry certification of basic competence. So, it's moved from an industry with aspirations of being a profession to being a glorified packaged marketing machine."

[DTN Note: The authors are primarily addressing the larger firms who left IMC USA a couple decades ago to promote their own 'brands.' Further, the authors' contention is that the larger firms are more concerned with their big-name brand, their 'leveraging' staff (e.g., pyramid scheme) and pushing their own services than 'solving client problems.']

Further, there's the http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/gupta-defied-mckinsey-before-sec-action/2011/05/17/AFUGck8G_story.html in The Washington Post, May 17, 2011, about Rajat Gupta and the SEC administrative order against him -- which alleges that Gupta, while Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., provided inside information to hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, "the central figure in the biggest crackdown on insider trading in U.S. history." Yikes; the Managing Director of one of the most venerable consulting firms facing what appears to be a major breach of ethics.

So, go with me:
  • Imagine a 'Wild-West' world, if you will, where nothing matters but the current revenue and near-term bookings; a world where the firms, in the words of Perchthold and Sutton, ".. are coming to clients and almost inventing problems to solve and sell."
  • Imagine the impact of potentially failed projects (and some real) and the resulting litigation and the tarnished reputations.
  • Imagine the money being paid to defend the accusations and to publicly repair reputations.

Imagine? You don't have to do so; it's real and it's happening now.

But, it doesn't have to be.

At the intersection of amorality, "Wild-West" practices, and Ethics one is faced with a choice -- do I do what is good and right, or do I make the decision that is counter? The choice, at least to our members, is not only real but also easy.

We are the sole certifying body for management consultants and, pertinently, the certification is based on consulting competencies and ethics. Check out our competency framework if you wish to learn more about consulting competencies. And, check out our tagline -- Setting the Standard in Excellence and Ethics in Consulting. And, to add a great measure of credibility, your organization is now an ISO/IEC 17024 accrediting body. (Subject of a future Message From The Chair.)

Our members are part of a self-regulated body, who each subscribe to our Code of Ethics, and voluntarily submit to ethics adjudication. Accordingly, I am proud of each of you -- the professional management consultants who do believe in excellence, consulting competence and ethics.

Then imagine, if you will, a business world, where all professional management consultants, whether in large firms, mid-sized boutique firms, or solo practitioners, subscribe to a voluntary Code of Ethics -- the same Code of Ethics, that if adhered to, would have helped a number of the firms self-absorbed by their brand avoid some of the current legal problems and tarnished reputations.

And, if you are a buyer of consulting services, why not ask if your consultant subscribes and adheres to an industry-wide Code of Ethics? What's the harm in asking; the answer may surprise you.

Alignment with and support of a self-regulating Code of Ethics will actually enhance your professional reputation and brand. Try it; you'll like it.

Stay tuned,

My best,

David

Tags:  CMC  Ethics  IMC USA  Management Consulting  McKinsey & Co.  The Washington Post 

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What is a Leadership Summit?

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Thursday, May 19, 2011

In the previous Message from the Chair [note: link to the previous one, please], explained, albeit briefly, how this role is a pay-back for Nat Hill’s pay-forward and how a mentor in a leadership position can set a career path in motion.

This next short series of the Message from the Chair addresses leadership – the leadership of IMC USA and the results of the Leadership Summit in Chicago, May 5 and 6th, 2011 and some of it comes from the comments I made opening the session.

For the last several years we have held a Chapter Leadership Summit which has been attended by approximately 25 – 45 members of the leadership across IMC USA. This year, in that fashion, was no different. However, this day and one-half meeting was about asking questions and listening, not telling. The sessions were devoted to the leaders I First, notice the nuance in the name change -- in previous years this was the Chapter Leadership Summit; this year it was the Leadership Summit and this shift was not an oversight, but rather intentional. Things are changing and so must we – we must build engaged communities of consultants, whether it is a chapter, a special interest group or any community of like-minded consultants. This summit was devoted to building engaged communities.

During our sessions, an analogy of IMC USA started to be honed by attendees. Juan C. Mendez, an At-Large member from Weston, Florida, drew a health-club analogy and Mike Sarlitto, from Chicago, honed (only in the way an experienced business development consultant could) the message (more on the analogy and its applicability to our current situation in the next Message from the Chair). Most of the discussions on Thursday were about communities and how they are created (again, stay tuned).

On Friday, the participants had three speakers. First off was a workshop by Jack Altschuler on his Fully Alive Leadership. This was an animated, entertaining and engaging workshop about "how we show up with others and how they are impacted so that they want to give their best, their A-game.” His Eleven Principles of Fully Alive Leadership proved to be a exclamation mark on Thursday’s community-building conversations. It is, after all about leadership.

The mid-morning speaker was Jenny Sutton, who co-authored (with her husband, Gordon Perchthold) a book, Extract Value from Consultants. Each has extensive background in consulting and wrote the book, not about consultants, but for clients and how clients can get more through their consultants. Her comments regarding the differences between perceptions of clients and consultants on success of projects were particularly enlightening. Finally, Jess Scheer from Kennedy Information’s Consulting Magazine talked about current and future trends in the consulting profession and how they affect your consulting business and the marketplace.

Thanks go to all the participants and to Judith Light, whose design was derived from Peter Block's ( Flawless Consulting) book, Community: A Structure of Belonging, is greatly appreciated. The whole process has reminded me, a question is more powerful than an answer. Stay tuned.

My best,

David


Tags:  CMC  Consulting Magazine  Jack Altschuler  Jenny Sutton  Leadership  Management Consultant 

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What Got Me Here?

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the first Message from the Chair Stepping Into the Hot Seat, I set the stage and commented on the whirlwind week I just experienced. But, what got me here in the first place, writing the fourth Message from the Chair?

In 1973, with a year and one-half old MBA, wife and two children, I was employed by a regional bank in management. Cool! Good gig. The trouble was, they found out I wasn’t a banker about a day or so before I found out I wasn’t going to be a banker. Fired, yikes. What now?

Doing a Yellow Pages search (remember Yellow Pages, don’t you?) for my next employment opportunity, I went shopping with my resume (no ‘Ladders.com’ then; just feet on the street) and, finally, was hired by an owner of a boutique management consulting firm. At the time, I knew him as an experienced management consultant who accepted my skill set (finance) but not either my competency or my comportment as a management consultant. Nonetheless, for the next eight years I was with the firm and helped the owner, together with others, grow it and serve some great clients in the Southeast. During my employment there he ‘hammered’ me on consulting competencies and ethics – drilled them into me as only an ex-Naval submariner could do. We traveled together, working with clients together, but mostly he tested and trained me. I was always under his watchful tutelage (err… control). He was, for me at the time, what every neophyte consultant hopes for – a true mentor.

As a result of his training and mentoring, I’ve been a management consultant for the past 38 years, have been a member of IMC USA since the early 80’s and earned my CMC in October, 1988.

What’s the link to now? As I remember, he was not only a founding father of an organization that ultimately was one that morphed into the current IMC USA but also a Certified Management Consultant (CMC). I have remained in our career mostly due to his strength of character and professionalism. Nathaniel Hill, thank you.

My volunteerism at both the Chapter level (Carolinas) and also National (three years on the Board) has been my pay-back to his pay-forward. What a role providence plays!

What’s your story? And, more importantly, what role do you play in the development of the next management consultant?  What's your pay-forward?

Next up, the Leadership Summit. Stay tuned.

My best,

David

Tags:  CMC  IMC USA 

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How Do You Deal With Discomfort?

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Sunday, May 15, 2011
Commenting on my previous blog which discussed ethics, http://www.imcusa.org/members/blog_view.asp?id=327070&post=125582&#comments, Jennifer Leake, a fellow CMC from the Southeast, raised a thought-provoking question.

First, as background, her comment was about how (and I'm paraphrasing her) consultants when they get together invariably share stories of their work with clients and, all too often, share the client's name and, perhaps, even references to the problem. Jennifer said, appropriately, that such sharing made her 'uncomfortable' and then asked, "How can one tactfully share this discomfort with a fellow consultant?"

She has, once again, caused me to think about our Code of Ethics. Take again #5.0, as quoted in the previous Message From the Chair, and excerpting, " ... I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people ... "

My personal take on this is simply not to share private information. Since becoming a CMC in 1988, I have taken an easy stance on this -- I don't share. Take (my much dated) website, for example, I have no client names, logos or anything identifiable listed. I do have testimonials, but not only do I have their permission but also the client names have been simplified (for example, Steve B) with only a generic industry name. This practice allows me to tell prospects that I will also keep our relationship confidential. But, that's the way I deal with the public side of confidentiality. With that being said, I know some of my peers will post client names, logos, and testimonials with written permission.

But, that didn't address Jennifer's question: "How can one tactfully share this discomfort with a fellow consultant?" I have my ways (e.g., I'm pretty upfront with them), but let's ask our members to help Jennifer, and, indeed, all of us in IMC USA.

So, here's the scenario -- you are in a meeting (such as a Chapter meeting) with other fellow consultants and one begins to address a client problem he/she is working on and, in the process, is using personal names, situations, and problems in quite some detail You become uncomfortable as you listen.

Comment, please, on 'how you would tactfully share this discomfort with a fellow consultant?' Let's create a conversation folks (and let's not make it a discussion on the Code of Ethics language or intent, rather about answering this other important question). Stay tuned, My best, David

Tags:  Code of Ethics  confidentiality  Ethics 

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Where Have All the Ethics Gone?

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Friday, May 13, 2011

Even though in my previous blog I promised to address How I Got Here, I’m changing that due to some very recent news.

On May 11, 2011, The New York Times published an article by entitled, Next Up, A Crackdown on Outside-Expert Firms, and while it wasn’t specifically about management consulting firms, it does raise serious ethical questions in a number of arenas. At this moment, I am humming Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” substituting ethics for flowers. If you know it (or admit you are old enough to remember it), hum along as you read.

Robert Weisberg, a professor of criminal law at Stanford, was quoted in the article, "If this little industry [ed: the outside-expert network] is to survive, it’s going to have to glow with virtue, which means a lot of self-regulation.”

It is my opinion, supported by research (see, for example, Gallup’s 2008 Nurses Shine While Bankers Slump Ethics Ratings), that ethics, for a number of professions, is slumping, "..the 12% very high/high honesty and ethics ratings for business executives … is a record low for that profession.” The rating did improve somewhat in the most recent survey (to 15%) by Gallup. [Note: Management consulting, as a profession, was not in the survey.]

As a member of IMC USA you pledge in writing to abide by our Code of Ethics and voluntarily agree to be self-disciplined. Take a moment, click the link, and look at the Code. Now think about the predicament that the New York Times article addressed about the outside-expert network industry. What if members of that industry subscribed to such a Code of Ethics? Take #5.0, for example, "I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people, and will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by myself, the client's firm, or another client, without the client's permission.” Would that industry and some of its leaders be in a much better place now? I think so.

So, as I keep humming my "Where Have All the Ethics Gone?” tune, I am convinced that the ethics reside, at least for the management consulting industry, within our membership and our adherence to the Code of Ethics, which forms our backbone. And, this makes me proud. Thank you.

Remember our tagline, Setting the Standard for Excellence and Ethics in Consulting.

Stay Tuned,

My best,

David

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Stepping Into the Hot Seat

Posted By David T. Norman CMC, Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It’s been a whirlwind over the past week. It started with the Leadership Summit in Chicago on Thursday and Friday, which had great participant energy and engagement and several inspirational and informative speakers. Friday was also about the Annual Meeting of the Membership and the installation of Directors, Officers and the new Chair, me. Saturday, the new and existing Board members had a day-long meeting, one of about four to five we have during the year. Finally, on Saturday, several of us were off to Toronto for an ICMCI America’s Hub meeting.

Over the next series of blogs (aka, Message from the Chair) I will not only update you as to the results of these events but also to share my vision of the future.

But, first, a big Thanks to the membership. The Board you have elected (more in a later blog) is an extremely well-balanced, thoughtful and diligent one. The individual members of the Board demonstrated a commitment to you, the member of IMC USA, and a belief in both the Institute and, indeed, the management consulting profession as a whole. You elected a great slate of Board members which complement the existing members.

And, second, as we progress on our journey together, reach out to me, or for that matter, any member of the Board, with ideas, suggestions, and possibilities. We are open to the conversations that follow.

The next blog will to put a background on the ‘why I am here.’ Stay tuned.

My best,

David

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