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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.

 

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#15: The Relevance of Organizational Values

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, March 27, 2009
Many companies follow the rational strategy development model that includes Vision, Values, Mission, Objectives, and Strategy. I understand, operationally, how all of these other than values fits in taking a company forward. What good is spending time figuring out organizational values if nobody pays any attention to them?

This statement begs the question of whether it is the poor articulation of values or their lack of use that is the issue. I would agree that too many companies place too little emphasis on defining their values. Even when they do, the values they do articulate are often aspirational and not the values currently espoused or acted on by the management and employees. When they don't, it is frequently because management fails to see how values could be "used" in executing the strategy they have developed.

What we can miss is that values are more foundational in an organization's day-to-day operations than strategies or tactics. If tactics are what you do, then values are who you are. In crafting the long view of strategy, a consensus on values underlies your decision making and problem solving processes. When a problem arises that challenges you in ways not foreseen by strategy, then values are what you must have to reconcile the conflicts in those decisions. For example, how should a company resolve a conflict between an employee and a customer if you haven't had a full conversation about how you honoring employees compared to how you serve customers.

Tip: If your client has not had a serious conversation recently about values, you could provide value by facilitating that discussion. Whether your specialization is in leadership, human resources, process management, marketing or any other area, a conversation about values as a way to increase the consistency and fairness of decision making is a natural consulting service.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  planning  values 

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#14: Do You Know the Real Difference Between Managers and Leaders?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 26, 2009
Updated: Friday, March 27, 2009
I have been asked by my client to coach senior staff to prepare them for leadership roles. I declined because I don't have coaching training but it got me to thinking about whether you can coach a manager into a leader. How would you know who might be ready for leadership?

There has been a lot of research conducted about what makes up managers and leaders. Some of the more interesting findings reveal that the strongest differences are in the conceptions a person holds, more so than the technical or analytical skills. The manager embraces process, mediation and accommodation, attachment to groups, stability, execution, and resolving problems quickly. The leader embraces ideas, attachment to individuals, tolerates ambiguity, sets new directions, is willing to let problems become clear before driving to a solution, and has passion. These are the results of work by researchers like Abraham Zelesnik, who recognizes that leaders can be found throughout an organization, not just at the top. This is why organizations are drastically rethinking "leadership development" programs aimed at identifying "promising" managers and grooming them for the executive suite. The issue is more complex than can be addressed here but an important point is that leaders can't be made if their natural inclinations are not there.

A second finding is that the nature of what a leader does is also changing. It used to be that a leader had authority and provided direction. Organizations have changed so that leaders may be found throughout the organization. There are some who recognize Level 4 and 5 leadership traits in junior people, even without the authority normally associated with such leadership levels. Add in emotional intelligence as a prerequisite to leadership effectiveness and you begin to understand why leadership development curricula developed a decade ago are potentially dangerous when applied to today's organizations.

Tip: The conclusion is that the nature of leadership and how it is expressed throughout organizations has become quite complex. Unless you are experienced in personnel assessment, trained specifically in leadership coaching, and are keeping up with recent research, it is unwise to assume that because you are a consultant that you can "do" leadership coaching. Recusing yourself from such a request is not only ethical but also helpful to the client if you convey the importance of getting leadership right.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  coaching  consultant role  ethics  roles and responsibilities 

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#13: Using Social Media in Your Consulting Practice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I am not a Gen Y consultant but am curious about how I might use social media for my practice. Is having Facebook and LinkedIn pages enough?

Visits to social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn increased by almost 800 percent between 2006 and 2007, with more than 50 million people reading blogs in 2005. Although started with the young adult market in mind, social media has been increasingly favored by older and more professional users. Corporate blogs are increasing and being used for both internal as well as marketing and customer relations. Vlogs (video logs) are increasingly popular (when your webcam is easier to use than your keyboard).

IMC's new website has built in blogs for the website community, chapters and communities of practice and for individuals. As we start to populate these blogs, it will create a growing community of management and consulting expertise. Sites like iBlogBusiness lets you browse through several thousand business blogs. Several organizations rate and list their picks of good business and management blogs.

Tip: Remember in high school when you were graded on class participation as well as your knowledge? In a social media environment, it is the same idea. Find the blog or social media sites your customer is most likely to use and get engaged. Post questions. Contribute your research data or reference links. Start a discussion thread. Establish yourself as a regular commentator on a topic related to your area of expertise. Just like being a recognized printed book author, being the person who is always up front in a business or management discussion can provide the same credibility and education.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  marketing  trends 

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#12: Using a Message Wheel to Get Your Point Across

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I am a believer in laying out the logical argument of why and exactly how my services will make the client's condition better. This sometimes works and sometimes seems to miss the mark. Am I missing something?

IMC has a lot of experienced marketing and communication experts who could answer this in more detail but there are a few points every consultant should know about messaging. A classic is the "message wheel" developed by Richard Vaughn, one version of which is called the FCB Grid. It was one of the first characterizations of separating how communication effectiveness varies with the audience. In this model, people are influenced by thinking and feeling, and by how involved you are personally. It is important to understand how your client sees the buying decision before you craft your marketing approach and sales pitch.

For example, in the high involvement case, the decision is critical, with a lot to lose if the decision is wrong. This is different from the low involvement decision, where the decision is not as important, can be made quickly, and there is little downside if the client picks the wrong consultant. Thinking and feeling are self explanatory, but you can see the impact on your pitch. A client who a year ago might have been in the feeling, low involvement cell would have easily made a decision with little thought, or consequences, of a bad decision. Under more duress, he or she may now be squarely in the thinking, high involvement cell, where engagement and perceived risks are high. It is a different buying environment.

Tip: This is one of many models proposed to explain how advertising, communication and messaging work, each of which has its adherents. Do a little research and pick one or more to define what is most likely motivating your prospects to purchase your services and tailor your pitch accordingly.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  marketing 

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#11: Consulting Terminology: Work Streams

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 23, 2009
I recently heard a term with which I am unfamiliar. What are work streams in an engagement?

In planning a consulting engagement or project, work streams are logical collections of activities aimed at a discrete outcome. Generally, a work stream is designed to assemble resources (usually people and information) in a sequence of related activities that result in a project deliverable or milestone. Work streams may even constitute subprojects of the overall engagement. Examples would be organizational diagnosis, communication plan development, execution of a training program, or a market test. Taken at a high level, work stream outputs will tell the project management story of an engagement.

Tip: As part of your engagement project plan, consider using work streams for two reasons. First, it will improve your ability to logically allocate the right people and information at the right times. Second, it will allow you to more easily communicate the plan, progress and outcomes to your client.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting terminology  project management 

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