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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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Top tags: client relations  communication  customer understanding  your consulting practice  marketing  consultant role  learning  client service  reputation  goodwill  consulting process  market research  practice management  sales  ethics  planning  client development  engagement management  innovation  proposals  professional development  professionalism  knowledge assets  prospect  trends  presentations  recommendations  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  product development 

#501: Make Sure Your Client Can Implement

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, February 14, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 14, 2011
After training my client's workers on how to correctly perform a revised process, I returned a month to find that they were not only performing the new process incorrectly, but they had misassembled the lion’s share of the products produced resulting in the client needing to issue an emergency call back. Is this my fault? I clearly showed them exactly what to do and I put it in writing.

Although it is unclear who could have improved this situation, it is useful to reiterate two items. First, remember the adage, "when process meets culture, culture wins." This refers to the situation where, when a new process is introduced, its logic, reasonableness and clarity pale in importance when compared the power of emotion, habit and resistance to change. Explaining in is just not enough.

Second, there is always the clear benefit of asking, "what more could I have done?" At a minimum, make sure you are aware when your implementation is not going according to plan. When you first know that whatever new process you recommend is going to be applied many, many times over, be sure to monitor that application until you (and your client) feel certain that the process is firmly in place and is being followed.

Tip: You have a professional and ethical responsibility to assure your directives are fully understood by the client and you leave the client with the capability to sustain use of your recommendations beyong the initial implementation. Would you instruct your teenager how to install fence posts by demonstrating the process once and then not checking back to be sure that everything is okay until after the remaining 29 posts have been installed? If you wait beyond the early opportunities to waver from your desired implementation, it will be too late for you and the client to recognize that you weren't clear about how to line up the posts, make them straight and level, etc.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  communication  consulting process  implementation  recommendations 

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#500: Help Your Clients Embrace Diversity

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, February 11, 2011
Updated: Friday, February 11, 2011
My client's firm has been slow to embrace workplace diversity and most of the efforts made in this area thus far seem to be reactive and defensive in nature. I think they are missing an opportunity. Do you have any suggestions?

You are absolutely correct - Organizations that understand and celebrate the importance of having a positive culture of diversity and inclusion are often very proactive in their efforts. They recognize that a culture of differences (in areas such as age, gender, ethnicity, lifestyles, talents, education, and interests) can provide them with a strategic competitive advantage that translates into financial success. They are constantly looking for new ways to leverage these differences to achieve positive results both for the organization and the individuals that make it up. For example, these companies utilize diverse teams to help get a better understanding of their diverse customer base, to help identify diverse new markets, and to support the recruiting and retention of workforce talent in a very competitive environment.

There is an anonymous quote that captures the topic extremely well: "Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day"

Tip: For more information on this important topic, you might seek out check out the collection "Differences That Work: Organizational Excellence Through Diversity" (Edited by Mary Gentile) or Managing Differently: Getting 100% from 100% of Your People 100% of the Time (by James O. Rodgers).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  customer understanding  diversity  values 

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#499: Make Sure Your Client is Ready for You

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2011
I recently started an engagement where the client was fully behind the project. Yet, when our team started on the project, the staff didn't know about it and, once they did, were less than enthusiastic about it. Is this the client's responsibility to prepare the staff for the engagement?

Sure, the client is responsible for communicating with his or her staff and managing their activities. However, in situations where management consultants are asked to improve operations, it is often these very communication and management activities that are in need of improvement. Thus, this becomes part of your engagement responsibility, per the agreement with your client.

If the client hasn't done so, what should you do about connecting with staff? Your effectiveness is tied to the cooperation, or at least understanding, of the staff. Work with the client to develop a communication plan aimed specifically at staff. Describe the objectives of the engagement, how the process will work, and the roles of both your team and client staff. Help the client deliver these messages and provide a mechanism for staff to ask questions and get answers throughout the engagement. A bad start usually leads to a bad finish, so make sure your client (and your project) get off to an effective start.

Tip: Use this opportunity to increase value by improving client communication management and processes. Spend the extra time (if you can make a compelling recommendation to add this to your engagement, all the better) to help your client improve their personal communication planning, skills and the acceptance and cooperation of staff for your engagement. Everybody can benefit.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  engagement management 

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#498: How to Measure the Impact of Your Consulting Advice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2011
My client wants me to measure the impact of my consulting intervention on her operations. The company is currently so loosely run that I am not sure how I can even measure any impact. How should I respond?

This kind of request has become increasingly common over the past few years as clients are looking for more tangible results from their use of intangible services. They recognize that they evaluate some sort of ROI on other investments they make, so why not something similar on consulting services?

The problem is that many organizations are in no position to measure change because they have no baseline. They don't know, for example, what their investment per employee is across a particular division or marketing costs per client type. Especially for smaller companies, performance data just aren't collected or evaluated this way. What the company looking for performance improvement needs is a baseline.

Before you developed a weight loss plan, you would need to know how much you weighed, how much you wanted to lose and over what time period. Without any one of those metrics, it would be hard to evaluate the effectiveness of any plan.

Tip: Propose to your client that their (or your) first task is to develop baseline measures against which to measure progress. This should be a basic part of their performance management strategy anyway and a key indicator of whether they even need to improve performance. Help them establish a set of performance measures appropriate for their market and industry. Then work with your client to develop a plan to improve specific measures and define what a specific performance improvement is worth to their bottom line. This helps them more clearly identify what they want to accomplish and also establishes the basis for your fees.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assessment  client relations  presentations  recommendations 

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#497: Finding the Next Big Thing in Consulting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The economy is in turmoil, technology is generating new markets, and globalization is running full steam ahead. It seems like there should be lots of new consulting opportunities opening up. What are they?

Every change in technology, culture, demographics, or trade brings about a need for expertise to plan and manage effectively those changes. First, look though the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Fortune, the Economist, or any other business magazine or management journal with an eye to how your current consulting skills could support those emerging businesses. Don't read the articles just for information. Look deliberately at each article about an emerging business or product as a way to develop your own new line of business.

The clues are there. Pick a few trends and follow them for a few months to get a sense of who the players are, where activity is, what institutions (companies, government, and nonprofits are all relevant) are engaged, and what enabling and constraining factors are relevant. Think of this as research for investment, because it is - investment in your consulting practice.

Tip: If an article isn't something for which you can provide consulting services, can you refer the idea to a consulting colleague? Do you have clients for whom the article might be relevant as an emerging product or service? You might even suggest that you could help them develop a product or service around the idea.

One idea (of many) is the boomer exit planning/execution trend. As baby boomers retire, many of them will want to sell or liquidate their businesses. Several organizations, consulting firms and books have resulted from this trend. One example (IMC does not endorse this organization, but provides it as an illustration only) is The Exit Planning Institute, which certifies exit planning professionals and has published a popular book, The $10 Trillion Opportunity: Designing Successful Exit Strategies for Middle Market Business Owners

This is one good example of how demographic changes continuously create consulting opportunities for those willing to look closely.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  marketing  trends  your consulting practice 

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