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#702: Find Opportunities in Your Client's White Spaces

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Several of my clients are planning to restructure or downsize in advance of tougher times in their market. I worry that this might reduce my opportunities to provide consulting services. Any advice on how to avoid this?

Recognizing that clients do not exist for the purpose of providing you consulting opportunities, changes in a client's market or overall economic conditions do present a challenge for consultants. However, if you are in a position to see how your client is changing, it is also a great opportunity to increase the value you can provide.

Almost every change in an organization means a change on the organization chart. Positions are added or removed. Reporting relationship are altered. Overall structure may be leveled or new layers added. Each of these changes presents an opportunity to provide some services to smooth the transition. Ostensibly, these changes were thought out and intentional. However, sometimes they are made with some, but not enough, forethought.

Look at your client's organization chart as it is likely to be over the next year. You may have even suggested some of these changes. How are these changes going to affect the "white spaces," those parts of the org structure that are not related to specific authority and reporting relationships? What can you do to make them work better.

Tip: Once you have confirmed what the org chart is likely to look like, develop some recommendations of how you think it might work even better. Talk to some of the people involved in some of the changes (without violating any confidentiality rules) to confirm your insights. Once you feel you have a solid grasp of the emerging situation, develop some recommendations of how your services might help the transition. Thinking at the highest level will help you better understand your client and will likely let them see you in a more strategic light.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  creativity  customer understanding  recommendations 

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