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Don Matheson, IMC USA Chair & CEO, periodically reports on the state of the Institute, including new benefits to members, strategic affiliations with other organizations, business issues affecting the consulting profession, member accomplishments, chapter activities, and activities of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI). Institute news can be found in the "News and Media" section of this site.

 

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Been A While

Posted By David T. Norman CMC-A, Monday, January 16, 2012
Good day to you. 

It's been a while since my last post; with apologies, sometimes life just comes at you fast.  Not an excuse, just a fact.  Ugh!

Two things: MLK Day and House of Lies.

1.  Martin Luther King Day:
I've been part of adjunct faculty for approximately 25 years, most often teaching Strategy or Corporate Finance.  In Strategy, as we discuss Vision and Mission, I ask my students to close their eyes as I read a very powerful Vision and, after reading it, ask if they could 'see' and 'feel' the author's vision.  While you can't close your eyes and read it at the same time, I suggest that today is a good day to read a very powerful vision -- Martin Luther King's Dream speech (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm).  It is powerful from many perspectives -- the vision itself of a better time, the message of equality and reconciliation, the language, the alliteration, and so forth.  Organizations' Vision Statements can't be/shouldn't be this long; but can they be as powerful and moving.

2.  House of Lies:
Last evening, my wife, Louise, and I watched our first session of House of Lies, staring Don Cheadle on Showtime.  According to Showtime's website, "Charming, fast talking Marty Kaan and his crack team of MBA-toting management consultants are playing America's 1 percent for everything they've got. They put the con in consulting as they charm smug, unsuspecting corporate fat cats into closing huge deals, and spending a fortune for their services. Twisting the facts, spinning the numbers, and spouting just enough business school jargon to dazzle the clients, there's no end to what this crew won't do to and for each other, while laughing all the way to the bank."

If you haven"t seen it, don"t waste your valuable time.  It is hard ignore the foul language (seems the 'F' word is the predominate word in their 'consultant-jargon'), the nudity (gratuitously presented), and the technological/video gimmicks (freeze-frame).  If you can get past all that, then the show itself is simply a non-starter.  House of Lies; indeed.  The portrayal of management consulting is so wrong.  As a professional, lifetime (38 years so far, 23 years as CMC) management consultant I'm not sure whether to be incensed or just amused.  The show may be humorous (although neither Louise nor I thought so), but only as a parody.  And, while I didn't watch it with our Code of Ethics in hand, my guess is that Marty (Don Cheadle) and his 'crack team' violated at least four (out of the fifteen) of the Code of Ethics points you subscribe to as a member of IMC USA.

IMC USA:
As we state on our website (see http://imcusa.site-ym.com/default.asp?page=ETHICSCODE):

The standards of conduct set forth in this Code provide basic principles in the ethical practice of management consulting. The purpose of this Code is to help IMC USA members maintain their professionalism and adhere to high ethical standards as they provide services to clients and in their dealings with their colleagues and the public.

Of this Code of Ethics, and of you and your membership, I am proud.

Stay tuned (and I'll try to post more often),

My best,

David

Tags:  CMC  Code of Ethics  Dream Speech  House of Lies  IMC  Martin Luther King  MLK Day  Showtime 

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True North

Posted By David T. Norman CMC-A, Sunday, August 7, 2011
My wife, Louise, and I were sitting in the Frankfurt airport heading towards Greece and Turkey for a much-needed vacation. Thomas Freidman's July 21st commentary, A Cultural Revolution, in the Global Edition of The New York Times about Greece's problems caught my interest since we were headed that way.

While the commentary was about Greece's current situation, what captured me was Freidman's opening stance. Quoting, "The globalization of markets and people has intensified in the past five years, with the emergence of social networking, Skype, derivatives, fast wireless connectivity, cheap smart phones and cloud computing.

"When the world is bound together this tightly ... everyone's values and behavior matter more than ever, because they impact so many more people than ever ... We've gone from connected to interconnected to ethically interconnected.

"And it is harder to shield yourself from the other guy's irresponsible behavior ... both he and you had better behave more responsibly -- or both of you will suffer the consequences, whether you did anything wrong or not."

In an earlier post I commented on McKinsey's Managing Director Gupta's situation with accusations of assisting with insider trading for a hedge fund manager. After coming back from vacation, I find this -- on August 5, the SEC dropped its civil administrative proceeding against Gupta, because the commission determined that "it is in the public interest to dismiss these proceeding.”  However, the commission may still pursue insider-trading charges against him in a civil lawsuit.

Yikes! Once again, I reflected on the quandary I'm in as relates to today's societal expectations regarding ethical behavior. It seems to me that ethical behavior is not only is the right thing to do, it is also very easy. IMC USA has a Code of Ethics that guides your behavior as a management consultant and, as a member, you subscribe to it. Align your moral compass with true North; it's easy and it is a differentiator.

So, two questions:

(1) Is Friedman right? Are we all bound tightly, ethically interconnected?

(2) And, if so, why is it, to some, so hard to behave in a manner that you are 'doing the right thing?'

Help me out here. Add your comments to these questions and tell me about YOUR moral, ethical compass? Or, tell me about how your clients appreciate your adherence to a Code of Ethics. Share.

Stay tuned,
My best,
David

Tags:  Code of Ethics  Ethics  Gupta  IMC  McKinsey 

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Just Anyone

Posted By David T. Norman CMC-A, Monday, June 20, 2011
An article in Sunday's New York Times piqued my interest.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/opinion/19everson.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Lawyers%20and%20Attorneys%20Once%20Put%20Integrity&st=cse, "..it would be prudent to ask whether lawyers and accountants offer the same protection against corporate misconduct that they once did."  While the article was focused on these two professional services group, it caused me to consider, once again, where IMC USA is, especially as relates to our Code of Ethics.

Pondering the importance of being in our organization at this particular time, I woke up, literally, with this 'story.'  Perhaps it will resonate with you.  If not, that's OK, simply humor me.

"Just Anyone ... When your car is not running right or needs service, you can go to a 'shade-tree' mechanic, but why would you when your family's safety and future depends on it?  You wouldn't go to just 'anyone,' you'd go to a mechanic where the quality is known.

"As a manufacturer, your purchasing agent can buy from anyone, but wouldn't you buy from a supplier who meets ISO 9000/9001 quality standards because your product quality, customer relationships and future sales ultimately depend on it?

"Similarly, most anyone can complete a tax return, but why would you trust just 'anyone.'  With the more complex issues, you turn to and trust a certified professional, a CPA.

"With an estimated 500,000 consultants in the U.S. today, you can hire just anyone. You can 'purchase' technical skills from most anywhere, from most anyone.  But why would you depend on just 'anyone,' especially when your organization's health and future depends on it?

"Why wouldn't you chose, instead, for a member of a professional organization, and who is aligned with professionalism, consulting competency and ethics? 

"In other words, not just anyone!"

So, that's my 'story.' I'm proud of it. What's yours? 

And, can you tell this story?  Do you attach a copy of IMC USA Code of Ethics to your proposals?  Do you call attention to it?  I do. 

Recently, I told a prospective client, "You can hire any management consultant you want to, but, you just might want to ask, beforehand, if they subscribe to an enforceable, adjudicatable code of ethics.  Not a company-specific one, but a professional-wide one." 

In fact, ask it of one of your prospects; it'll make them think and make you feel good. 

Thoughts?

Stay tuned.

My best,

David

Tags:  Code of Ethics  CPA  Ethics  IMC USA  lawyers  New York Times 

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How Do You Deal With Discomfort?

Posted By David T. Norman CMC-A, Sunday, May 15, 2011
Commenting on my previous blog which discussed ethics, http://www.imcusa.org/members/blog_view.asp?id=327070&post=125582&#comments, Jennifer Leake, a fellow CMC from the Southeast, raised a thought-provoking question.

First, as background, her comment was about how (and I'm paraphrasing her) consultants when they get together invariably share stories of their work with clients and, all too often, share the client's name and, perhaps, even references to the problem. Jennifer said, appropriately, that such sharing made her 'uncomfortable' and then asked, "How can one tactfully share this discomfort with a fellow consultant?"

She has, once again, caused me to think about our Code of Ethics. Take again #5.0, as quoted in the previous Message From the Chair, and excerpting, " ... I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people ... "

My personal take on this is simply not to share private information. Since becoming a CMC in 1988, I have taken an easy stance on this -- I don't share. Take (my much dated) website, for example, I have no client names, logos or anything identifiable listed. I do have testimonials, but not only do I have their permission but also the client names have been simplified (for example, Steve B) with only a generic industry name. This practice allows me to tell prospects that I will also keep our relationship confidential. But, that's the way I deal with the public side of confidentiality. With that being said, I know some of my peers will post client names, logos, and testimonials with written permission.

But, that didn't address Jennifer's question: "How can one tactfully share this discomfort with a fellow consultant?" I have my ways (e.g., I'm pretty upfront with them), but let's ask our members to help Jennifer, and, indeed, all of us in IMC USA.

So, here's the scenario -- you are in a meeting (such as a Chapter meeting) with other fellow consultants and one begins to address a client problem he/she is working on and, in the process, is using personal names, situations, and problems in quite some detail You become uncomfortable as you listen.

Comment, please, on 'how you would tactfully share this discomfort with a fellow consultant?' Let's create a conversation folks (and let's not make it a discussion on the Code of Ethics language or intent, rather about answering this other important question). Stay tuned, My best, David

Tags:  Code of Ethics  confidentiality  Ethics 

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