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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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#388: Take A Cue From the Board

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I'm looking for competitive intelligence on a prospect. I have looked at the Leadership Library and recent annual reports, asked competitors about their differentiators, figured out where the executives spend their community time, set up a press clipping and Topix analysis, and asked around. I really want this client. Anything else I can do to get an inside perspective?

Sounds like you are well along in scoping out your prospect. You have covered the factual, news and opinion angles. Good for you. Not enough people do this kind of research on a prospective client before trying to engage them.

Here's one area you may not have thought of: the Board of Directors (or a CEO advisory body). Directors are presumably selected because they bring financial, market, technological, management or other resources to the company. Collectively, they provide the governance to drive a company efficiently and effectively forward.

If we assume this is true for a moment, take a look at Directors individually and as a group. What does each one bring? What areas of expertise and perspective do they have? Have there been any recent shakeups on the Board or any Directors brought in for a specific reason? Finally, do you know any of them well enough to talk with them about what the company needs? There are worse references to have than a company Director.

Conversely, it may be the case that the Board itself is one of several problems the company faces. In this case, your analysis of how well the Board is constituted might provide an additional topic of discussion with the executive to who you are offering your services.

Tip: Use caution when approaching individual Directors and/or discussing your conclusions about the role and performance of the Board with your future client. Recognize that you are not on the inside and are going to be missing a lot of information. However, properly qualified, the executive is likely to be impressed with your thoroughness in looking beyond traditional competitive intelligence sources.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  boards  client development  customer understanding  market research  marketing  prospect 

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#205: Volunteering for Professional Committees and Boards

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 25, 2009
In a previous tip you mentioned getting active in association committees/boards. Frankly, I have found them time consuming and pretty much a waste of time. What am I missing?

Professional association activities can be time consuming. Unless you think this through, it might appear that donating time reduces your earning potential. So why would you give up earning hours to do it? Primarily because, if you are a professional management consultant and not just a treating consulting as just a job, you have an obligation to support your profession. Given your organizational skills, you also have something unique to contribute and can demonstrate that by playing a leadership role in your committee or board activities. By doing so, you get the benefit of added experience in organizational development or governance as well as you will receive the recognition that goes along with it. A few thoughts:
  • Unless you are at the beginning of your consulting career avoid committees that meet often or for long duration and/or where excessive travel is involved. If you are concerned about the time commitment, join those that are primarily virtual and seem to run efficiently and where less frequent/distant travel is required.
  • Join committees where you feel you have a real ability to contribute and whose work supports the advancement of the profession.
  • Contribute in areas where the people you work with can teach you something, connect you with someone, or are people whose capabilities you admire.
Tip: Treat this like you do when evaluating prospective clients. Evaluate how much you will gain in experience, skills, visibility, and contribution to the profession. Talk to those who contribute the most time to their profession. They will tell you that, other than a waste of time, it can be a real advance to their professional capabilities as well as, however indirectly, highly lucrative.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  boards  goodwill  professional association  professional development  your consulting practice 

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#131: Consultants Serving on Boards

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 14, 2009
Updated: Monday, September 14, 2009
I know consultants are often unwelcome on boards but it would seem to be good experience. If I could help an organization, shouldn't I offer, or accept an offer, to serve on a board?

You are right that consultants are often unwelcome on boards, but not always. Aside from the obvious concerns about conflicts of interest with consultants serving on boards of organizations to whom they are providing consulting services, it is the nature of their perspective that causes some concerns. It could be argued that a management consultant could provide business experience, context, and guidance to an organization. However, this is the appropriate role of management, not of the board as the governing body. As such, some boards pull in the welcome mat for consultants.

Perhaps the first issue to consider is what the board really needs. If they are an operating board and not a governing board, then maybe your management consulting expertise may have a place. Second, what do you have to offer? Are you bringing something unique? As smart and experienced as you may be, are your attributes really something that would add value to this organization at this time in a board role? Third, what will you get out of the experience? Are you looking for experience in board operations to add to your credentials, build your insight into how boards operate, or are you passionate about the organization's mission and want to contribute? If it is only the first two, reconsider. Even though those reasons may be useful to you, what value do they bring the board?

Tip: Board service can provide professional growth in addition to serving your desire to contribute to a cause. When you spend your time thinking about management, planning and execution, some time putting on a board/governance hat can provide useful perspective. It does not have to be for the same types of organizations in which you normally consult. A well run nonprofit board or corporate board in an entirely new industry can challenge your skills and broaden your understanding of how different boards function.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  boards  community service  consultant role 

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