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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 

#306: Helping Win the "Talent War" for Your Clients

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 17, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 17, 2010
Probably like every other company, my primary client is desperate to recruit and retain skilled and experienced staff. What can a consultant, who is not an HR consultant, do for a client to help?

Most companies report that they are losing, or at least not winning, the talent war. One survey says that only one of five companies claims to be winning, and one in ten claims to have lost.

I agree strongly with one of the survey's conclusions, specifically that many companies are losing the war on talent because they really have little basis on which to make decisions about who they want to hire. The assumption that one can never go too far wrong hiring really smart people is a flawed strategy. Without a clear and consistent strategy, a company is hard pressed to begin to amass the kinds of talent and experience needed to meet emerging challenges. It is not necessarily high IQ, but a mixture of people with high EQ, experience, contacts, growth potential and common sense - all acquired and trained at the right time in the right way - that determines the long term talent war success.

Tip: Help your client explicitly map to strategy the types of people to hire (and subsequently support and nurture) that will take them through each stage of change. Some of these hire/grow strategies may take years and may involve people who don't seem right for the next quarter, but need to be in place a few years from now. It is more like a game of chess or go, where longer term strategy and position means everything.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  customer understanding 

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#305: Discontinuing a Product or Service

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 14, 2010
Updated: Friday, May 14, 2010
How do I stop offering a service for which I am very well known? I think I would like to move my practice in a different direction and do not want future clients to have preconceived or limited notion of what types of services I can provide.

First, make sure that your current clients will not be adversely impacted by you discontinuing this service. If it will, you must determine whether it is worth the risk to discontinue the offering.

If this is a profitable endeavor, you might consider offering to sell this "service" to another consultant. It might enable someone just starting out to build up their practice or it could provide an experienced practitioner with an opportunity to supplement their current offerings. Remember, you invested time and effort in building value into this service, and you should always explore any opportunities to benefit from your hard work prior to abandoning it. If you do sell or license this product or service, make sure to provide specific contractual assurances that it will be delivered or provided in the manner that you expect. Also make sure that you build in contractual protection against any perceived responsibilities for how the product or service is delivered once handed over to the purchaser.

Tip: If you decide to simply discontinue the product or service without establishing a continuity plan via sale, the best thing for you to do is to inform the people who have been served by you that for the following reasons, you have decided to discontinue offering this product or service. Be sure to provide them with as much advance notice as possible. Some clients will come and ask for help, others will make other arrangements and, surprisingly, some might actually ask you why it took you so long to make this decision!

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  goodwill  intellectual property  knowledge assets  product development  sales  your consulting practice 

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#304: How to Know if Your Client Might be a Sinking Ship

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 13, 2010
Updated: Thursday, May 13, 2010
As consultants, we spend all our time figuring out how to identify strengths and opportunities for growth but we rarely look for those weaknesses that are predictive of a company in trouble. What resources or models exist that can help us know when our client might be headed for trouble?

This is a great question and one all of us as consultants should be thinking about for each of our clients. It is easy to see companies that are in free fall or so damaged by competition or self inflicted wounds that they soon will be. However, who could have predicted that Circuit City, A&P and Xerox - all once high flying, well respected companies - would sink so fast? What was it about Xerox that allowed it to recover, and the others to resist all attempts to do the same? As consultants, are we able to divine the warning signs that our clients (or prospects) are entering the decline stage? Do we have the skills and experience to help companies on the way down in the same ways we help them on the way up (the latter is far easier, by the way)?

Jim Collins' recent book How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In provides some clues to how to think about these companies in danger. Now, some of you might say that many of the companies in Collin's prior books Good to Great and Built to Last were not perfect. True, but, as Collins points out in How the Mighty Fall, it is as much how companies respond to danger (as in Xerox's case) that defines their greatness. Collins talks about the five stages of decline: Hubris Born of Success, Undisciplined Pursuit of More, Denial of Risk and Peril, Grasping for Salvation, and Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death. If you recognize what stage you are in and act appropriately (with good consulting help) it is possible to come back from stage 4.

Tip: This is another characterization of the life and death of companies that consultants need to aware of. Take Collins' research how you will but the construct of stages of decline is a useful one. What kind of effective consulting services can you provide for each of these stages?

Tags:  consultant role  consulting process  customer understanding 

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#303: Making Sure Facilitations Are Successful

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I have facilitated some meetings that seemed doomed from the beginning. Despite a good process and facilitation skills, the group came together unprepared and seemingly with the "wrong stuff." Is ther anything I could do to be sure of success?

In facilitation, as in painting, preparation is critical to success. One really good, short listing of the biggest deal breakers for facilitated sessions is a McKinsey Quarterly article Taking the Bias out of Meetings. Both the facilitator and staff have responsibilities that include making sure the right people are part of the session (which may mean excluding some who think they should be there and inviting some who you might not think of at first), doing homework for the session, and making sure there is follow up accountability. The article gives good tips for each of these.

Tip: Build a facilitation preparation, execution and follow through process and add to it based on articles like these as well as observations from your own sessions and those of your colleagues.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  facilitation  meeting preparation  roles and responsibilities 

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#302: Ever Expanding Web 2.0 Applications

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Despite my reluctance to join in the mass migration to social media, I have recognized that consultants who do not embrace these technologies and use them aggressively will quickly become invisible to colleagues and clients. So, what is out there for consultants other than LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook?

You might be shocked to know how many web 2.0 applications are being created. Granted, a lot of new apps may not be usable for your immediate needs and some may not even work that well. However, whether it is about blogging, file sharing, video, networking, managing feeds, or searching, it is worth your time to explore where your consulting practice would most benefit by leveraging these technologies. Examples (most are free or have free service levels) include:Take a look at a good compilation of links to these kinds of applications

Tip: "Make haste slowly" when adopting these web 2.0 applications. Be sure that the ones you select can really increase productivity in your client service, visibility or practice management. Some of them are interesting or flashy but not really better than the systems you currently use. Others, like dlvr.it, which simultaneously posts blogs on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, are real timesavers.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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