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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 

#471: Why "Soft Skills" are Critical to Your Consulting Offering

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, January 3, 2011
Updated: Monday, January 3, 2011
We know command and control is well on its way out as a trait of a successful executive, but shouldn't this provide an opportunity for consultants to wield these hard skills more effectively?

On the contrary, if soft skills are increasingly recognized as essential for effective leadership and management, then consultants should, as always, be one or two steps ahead of their clients. When executive search firms look for executives, they are more likely to administer a battery of psychometric tests to get a sense of how well they can think expansively, communicate, and influencing behavior. Doesn't this sound a lot like the classical essential skill set for a consultant?

In addition to specific skills, consider the value of expanding your perspective. In other words, develop a better understanding of global cultures, adult learning styles, varieties of cognitive processing and decision making, and languages. If you needed evidence that this trend is real, consider that a few decades ago, instruction in hard sciences such as physics and engineering dominated the military service curriculum. Today, increasing numbers classes are in fields like anthropology, history, sociology, government and languages. Furthermore, Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations research finds that leaders with stronger soft skills deliver superior financial performance to those with command or mechanistic styles.

Tip: Whether you train clients in these soft (i.e., "people") skills or use them to diagnose, design or implement organizational change, these should be an explicit part of your annual professional development plan. This is all the more reason to spend more time with your consulting colleagues and taking advantage of the natural diversity of skills and perspectives the profession has to offer.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  knowledge assets  learning  practice management  professional development  trends  your consulting practice 

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#470: The New Year

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 31, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 31, 2010
The New Year is upon us, signaling a "clean slate" and the promise of new resolutions for the future. But it also gives us two good reasons to look back.

In your haste to clear the decks and embark on some new goals for the New Year, don't forget to take a little time to consider the past year and note the following:
  1. Think about things that went well for you this past year. Engagements that went smoothly, recognition you received, people who helped you achieve success, etc. Make a note of went particularly well for you over the last 12 months and write these things down. Then, do your best to note the various reasons why these things worked so well. This list should help you to remember to employ the approaches that worked so well for you in the past year for the upcoming year.
  2. Conversely, think about things that did not go well for you this past year. Write these things down as well and note the reasons why these things didn't work out. What did you learn from these miss-steps? This list should help you to avoid making similar mistakes in the upcoming year.
Tip: Look forward optimistically - your future starts now. But don't forget to take a moment to reflect on the past for the tips for achieving (and traps for preventing) success in the future!

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assessment  learning  planning  your consulting practice 

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#469: It's All in the Presentation

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, December 30, 2010
Updated: Thursday, December 30, 2010
I have a fascinating source of data visualization I'd like to share with my fellow Daily Tips readers. It is Information Is Beautiful.

All the data in the world will not help you convince a client of your findings, much less compel them to take your recommendations and implement them, unless you can present these data in an interesting and understandable way. Take the time to find the best way to present data, and don't just throw them into a PowerPoint template because you think everyone is familiar with that approach. Glad to pass this source along. The Information Is Beautiful website is an inspiration for all consultants to "think before they print."

Tip: One of my favorites is the Hierarchy of Digital Distractions.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  data visualization  presentations  statistics 

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#468: Turn Travel "Down Time" Into Productive Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 29, 2010
How can I make non business hours while I am on client travel more productive?

Some consultants travel a lot and if this is you, then you can appreciate that it is not so much time wasted and time that you can't better use (subtle difference). This is because you are away from the people, resources and spaces you'd prefer to have available. Given that you are on the road without those things, here are some tips to make your travel time more productive:
  1. Improve your ability to work from the road. Consider investing in mobile technology so you can work from anywhere and at anytime. Make sure to thoroughly evaluate a product's durability, flexibility, weight and adaptability. Although it might cost you more, you will need to rely on the dependability of your equipment to allow conduct your business at the drop of a hat.
  2. Actively manage your travel time for maximum productivity. Although many of us find working on planes is very conducive to getting work done, we often fail to consider other "downtime" opportunities such as cab rides, waiting for flights, etc.
  3. Free evenings on the road (as well as the morning hours before work) can be used for more focused work and rejuvenation -exercise, planning, reading, etc. As Covey puts it, use these pockets of downtime to "sharpen your saw" (i.e., nurturing and renewing your physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being).
  4. Keep yourself well-organized and take a little time to plan what you are going to pack in advance. Take whatever you think you might need with you on a trip. Keep it light, but take it.
Tip: Exercise, work, relax. Make that travel time work better for you. Instead of feeling constrained by traveling, feel temporarily liberated from your normal work schedule, free to do things for which you usually "don't have time."

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  efficiency  time management  travel 

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#467: Have Your Engagement Kickoff Process Ready to Go

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I am a relatively new consultant, with about twenty years of executive experience. Since each project is different, how do I go about starting the consulting process with a new client without customizing each project?

It pays to have a core process that you use to drive your clients toward a solution. Assuming your consulting practice focuses on a particular area of performance improvement, you probably start each engagement with some diagnostic effort. Although the path resulting from your initial diagnosis will vary by client and circumstances, you are likely to start that process with some consistency, especially as you improve your approach.

Peter Drucker would always have five questions to start off a management conversation. These usually resulted in management having to retreat a bit to figure out, then agree within their ranks, what the answers were:
  1. What is your organization’s mission? Why do you exist in the first place? What are you trying to accomplish for your customers?
  2. Who are your customers? Describe the person you wish to satisfy with your actions.
  3. What does your customer value? What is it that you do especially well that you are uniquely suited to provide to your customers? How can you exceed the standards set by your competition?
  4. What results are you trying to accomplish? How do you measure success?
  5. What is your plan? How do you go about satisfying your customers and getting the results that are most important?
Tip: Dedicate yourself to at least having your engagement kickoff process streamlined and perfected.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  customer understanding  engagement management  intellectual property 

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