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#69: Giving Advice Outside Your Area of Expertise

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 11, 2009
Updated: Thursday, June 11, 2009
My client recently expanded the scope of my engagement to include developing a new logo and marketing collateral. This is outside my area of expertise but I can certainly contribute some ideas. Is this a case where I must decline?

Be careful about your interpretation of the IMC USA Code of Ethics. It says in section 3.0 “I will only accept assignments for which I possess the requisite experience and competence to perform and will only assign staff or engage colleagues with the knowledge and expertise needed to serve my clients effectively." This does not mean that you must withdraw but that you must discuss this with your client. Be sure you fully understand the client's request. In many cases, it may be for no more than your insights based on your developed and trusted understanding of the client's strategy, capability, markets, etc. Don't automatically assume they are asking for your design or marketing expertise. The client should know well what you can provide. Just ask.

Tip: In any cases, even if you do not have focused expertise in an area your client needs, you can provide insights not apparent to others. If you have ever seen creative design work (and you are not a graphic designer), you know the joy of being shown something that never would have occurred to you. Your client can get insights from you that the "expert marketing or design person" can't. For example, see this collection of incredibly clever logo designs. Your reaction is like what your client would feel when they hear your unique "non-expert" opinion.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  consultant role  customer understanding  ethics  roles and responsibilities 

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