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The 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).


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Amorality or Ethics -- the Choice is Yours

Posted By David T. Norman FIMC CMC-AF, Sunday, May 22, 2011
Is the Industry at the Intersection of Amorality and Ethics?

First, the dilemma. An associate and a friend chided me about posting too often to the Message From the Chair out of concern for over-populating your inbox with announcements of the most current post. I took the concern to heart and vowed to not post as often.

Well, until there was a confluence to two events: (1) hearing our guest speaker, Jenny Sutton, at the recent Leadership Summit, and (2) Consulting Magazine's current review in Book It! of Extract Value from Consultants, the new book by Sutton and her husband, Gordon Perchthold.  [Note: I referred to the book in my previous blog.]. The review of the book took a Q&A format and several of the authors' responses struck me. Excerpting just one for this Message From the Chair:

"Consulting: Do you think the consulting profession has lost its way over the past few decades, either from an ethical standpoint or a performance standpoint? It's certainly taken its share of black eyes."

"Perchthold: First of all, you called it a profession and it's not a profession, actually. It had aspirations of being a profession at one point, but it never got there. It doesn't support an industry certification of basic competence. So, it's moved from an industry with aspirations of being a profession to being a glorified packaged marketing machine."

[DTN Note: The authors are primarily addressing the larger firms who left IMC USA a couple decades ago to promote their own 'brands.' Further, the authors' contention is that the larger firms are more concerned with their big-name brand, their 'leveraging' staff (e.g., pyramid scheme) and pushing their own services than 'solving client problems.']

Further, there's the in The Washington Post, May 17, 2011, about Rajat Gupta and the SEC administrative order against him -- which alleges that Gupta, while Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., provided inside information to hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, "the central figure in the biggest crackdown on insider trading in U.S. history." Yikes; the Managing Director of one of the most venerable consulting firms facing what appears to be a major breach of ethics.

So, go with me:
  • Imagine a 'Wild-West' world, if you will, where nothing matters but the current revenue and near-term bookings; a world where the firms, in the words of Perchthold and Sutton, ".. are coming to clients and almost inventing problems to solve and sell."
  • Imagine the impact of potentially failed projects (and some real) and the resulting litigation and the tarnished reputations.
  • Imagine the money being paid to defend the accusations and to publicly repair reputations.

Imagine? You don't have to do so; it's real and it's happening now.

But, it doesn't have to be.

At the intersection of amorality, "Wild-West" practices, and Ethics one is faced with a choice -- do I do what is good and right, or do I make the decision that is counter? The choice, at least to our members, is not only real but also easy.

We are the sole certifying body for management consultants and, pertinently, the certification is based on consulting competencies and ethics. Check out our competency framework if you wish to learn more about consulting competencies. And, check out our tagline -- Setting the Standard in Excellence and Ethics in Consulting. And, to add a great measure of credibility, your organization is now an ISO/IEC 17024 accrediting body. (Subject of a future Message From The Chair.)

Our members are part of a self-regulated body, who each subscribe to our Code of Ethics, and voluntarily submit to ethics adjudication. Accordingly, I am proud of each of you -- the professional management consultants who do believe in excellence, consulting competence and ethics.

Then imagine, if you will, a business world, where all professional management consultants, whether in large firms, mid-sized boutique firms, or solo practitioners, subscribe to a voluntary Code of Ethics -- the same Code of Ethics, that if adhered to, would have helped a number of the firms self-absorbed by their brand avoid some of the current legal problems and tarnished reputations.

And, if you are a buyer of consulting services, why not ask if your consultant subscribes and adheres to an industry-wide Code of Ethics? What's the harm in asking; the answer may surprise you.

Alignment with and support of a self-regulating Code of Ethics will actually enhance your professional reputation and brand. Try it; you'll like it.

Stay tuned,

My best,


Tags:  CMC  Ethics  IMC USA  Management Consulting  McKinsey & Co.  The Washington Post 

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