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#478: Get Your Recommendations Implemented

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I am sometimes disappointed by seeing my recommendations implemented poorly or not at all. The client fully accepts my analysis and findings. Why do my recommendations have so little impact on the client's organization?

Failure to effect change is usually less a result of our poor quality evaluation but our ineffective entry into the organization's decision making process. There are two areas where this can be improved.

First, many clients are reluctant to cede too much power to consultants. Without the trust of a long term relationship, a manager prefers to accept your professional findings and recommendations but retain action decisions for themselves. This is why many consulting engagements terminate at the report of findings stage and do not carry over into implementation. If your client refuses your participation in implementation, then don't be upset if they choose to make their own decisions about how to use your recommendations.

Second, and something we can do something about, is the need for consultants to better understand how our recommendations will be used before we present them. Who is really the decision maker (it may not be your client)? How are decisions made in the organization (consensus/vote, executive/unit level, fast/slow, phased/full, etc.)? What is the preferred format for presenting findings and recommendations (report, briefing, data, group discussion, side conversations)? What role do data vs. presenter credibility play (was a recognized analytical model used, are data in familiar format, and were staff broadly involved in analysis)? Do people know how the recommendations will benefit them (what's in it for various stakeholders)? What other questions can you think of that relate to acceptability of recommendations?

Tip: Superior analysis and cogent recommendations are of limited effect if you are unable to insert them into the decision making process. Starting at the beginning of the engagement, be thinking, and talk to your client, about how your recommendations will be presented.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  communication  decision making  recommendations 

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