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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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#628: Finding the Right Size Consulting Firm

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
For many years I have been a partner at a highly regarded consulting firm but have been considering going out on my own. I was also recently offered a position at a boutique firm. Given the current market, what factors should I consider?

Because you are making a choice that could affect you for many years, the factors to consider do not change that much with year to year market circumstances. There are benefits of large and small or solo practices, although the distinctions are disappearing.

With the economic downturns in consulting in 2002 and 2009, many large firms cut back hiring and, among several, partners left to start their own firms. The rise of boutique firms in this decade, and the realization among clients that marquee names do not always equate to top performance, have opened the consulting market to smaller and smaller firms. Clients are looking for the best talent on the consulting team and are less concerned about the company they work for.

Large firms have more resources, can field larger teams, have internal knowledge resources and tested processes, are more likely to work for recognized logo clients, and can (or at least used to) provide more career stability. Smaller firms have more flexibility, greater discretion in selecting clients (they are less compelled than large firms by firm economics to grow year over year), and can assemble consulting teams with more flexibility and speed. Many smaller firms and solo practitioners staffed by large firm refugees (many of whom took their clients with them when they left) and successfully compete against established large firms. The sophistication and visibility of the work, assuming your skills and marketing are done effectively, are less distinguishable as a function of firm size.

Tip: More than ever, the choice of firm size is about lifestyle and risk. If you are looking for flexibility, a chance to put your own mark on your practice, and are willing to tolerate some risk, a smaller or solo practice is attractive. If you are looking for the largest engagements or prefer large teams, prefer or need knowledge assets developed by larger firms, and prefer the more institutional lifestyle, then a larger firm is where you need to be. No decision is forever, so if you want to try a boutique firm and you don't like it, you can always switch.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  consulting lifestyle  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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#521: Leverage Your Strengths

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 14, 2011
Updated: Monday, March 14, 2011
Are you using your greatest strengths, attributes, and qualities in your work?

If you wanted to become a professional athlete, early on in your quest you would pick the sport to focus your efforts on based on your strengths and attributes. Your speed, agility, physical strength, coordination, size, etc. would all play into your decision and you (or the coach) would pick which position you would be best- suited to play. If you wanted to be successful, you would play strategically to leverage those strengths and attributes. You are (or desire to be) a professional management consultant. Are you playing to strategically leverage your strengths? Are making the most of your experiences, skills, passions, and abilities?

Tip: Take stock of your strengths and best attributes/qualities. List each of them and ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to leverage them in your practice (and life, in general).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  consulting skills  practice management  your consulting practice 

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#315: Association Memberships

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 28, 2010
Updated: Friday, May 28, 2010
I belong to several professional associations, ranging from technical to marketing to industry groups. How do I know which ones are really working for me?

We join professional associations to increase our skills and knowledge, increase our exposure to others in our profession and, ultimately, to increase our ability to practice our chosen discipline. IMC USA describes this as Get Smart, Get Known and Get Business. If your association is helping you with all three, then it is probably a good one for you.

Another issue is the nature of the professional support you get. One example is management consulting, which consists of two distinct parts: the "What" and the "How." You should belong to associations that can help you improve in both areas.

The "What" is your technical discipline and industry perspective, and associations like SHRM, IEEE, ASTD and other technical associations are "musts" to belong to. The "How" complements technical with consulting skills and behaviors, ethics, interpersonal and organizational capabilities, and the opportunity to meet and learn from people in many different technical disciplines.

As cross-disciplinary skills and experience become more important, professionals need places to meet and work with others in different fields. Someone with technical skills without consulting skills (and vice versa) will find it increasingly hard to keep up in the management consulting profession.

Tip: If you are a practicing management consultant and already belong to a technical association, IMC USA invites you to explore membership in the premier professional association and sole certifying body for management consultants in the US. With the coming ISO registration for management consultants (which will be based on the CMC designation awarded by IMCs around the world), greater commitment to yourprofession through associations and professional certification in both technical as well as consulting disciplines become of equal importance.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  consulting colleagues  education  learning  professional association  professional development  professionalism  trends  your consulting practice 

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#277: Why Consultants Do What We Do

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
What is it about consulting that is so gratifying? Sure the problems are intellectually stimulating and it feels great to solve them. But why is it so popular?

Consulting as a profession resonates with each of us for different reasons. However, there are some common themes that come up when we discuss how we approach our own professional development, client relations and community service. Perhaps Dan Pink and others express it best when they talk about why people love coming to work and why they look for more than just "getting the job done."

We get a lot of satisfaction from work when we can pursue, and achieve, three things:
  1. Autonomy: We want to have control over our work.
  2. Mastery: We want to get better at what we do.
  3. Purpose: We want to be part of something that is bigger than us.
Tip: Think about management consulting. Especially for independent consultants, many of who have deliberately graduated from larger firms, we take control over our marketing, client selection, project management and team selection. Most of us spend a considerable amount of time reading, going to conferences and in discussions with other consultants about approaches and practices. Finally, we are participating in the building of companies, communities and nations by our improvement of public and private sector organizations. Who wouldn't be thrilled at that?

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  community service  consultant role  consulting lifestyle  your consulting practice 

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#228: Those Who Can, Do, Those Who Can't . . .

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Some of my consulting colleagues also teach as adjunct faculty at community, graduate or online colleges. Does this make sense for consultants? What is the benefit to me or the students?

Teaching in your discipline can be productive for both you and your students, but only if several conditions are met. These have to do with who you are, why you are teaching, your teaching ability and your students’ needs (there are more criteria, but we'll stick with these four). First, is teaching something you want to do? Being a great teacher and having the desire to do so are different characteristics, and you may have one, both or neither. There are fabulous teachers who chose not to teach (and there are those who shouldn't but do anyway). Second, are you teaching to supplement your income (the pay is usually far less than for consulting), because you enjoy the interchange of ideas, to sharpen your skills or because you are compelled to educate people in your discipline? All of these can be legitimate reasons to teach, but be sure you know why you are doing it.

Third, how good a teacher are you? Having passion and content knowledge are insufficient if you cannot convey that passion and knowledge to your students. Each type of student and curriculum focus differs. My teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels was more effective than teaching in K-12 subjects. Others may be better in a seminar setting than lecture setting, or in apprentice training. Fourth, compared to what you have to offer, what do your students really need? The focus of an operations course in business school can vary from mathematical modeling to cultural interactions. Are you up to delivering the focus in a manner the students need? Finally, just as in management consulting, teaching is a profession with its own body of knowledge and practices. It requires a commitment to the profession, a sense of its unique ethics and culture, and a desire to continuously improve your skills. It is not something to dabble in any more than any other profession.

Tip: The benefit to you is that it compels you to do research and keep up with the discipline. You have to continually refine and build your skills to be able to teach at the highest level. "Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach” applies to teachers who don’t bring real world experience to the students. A consultant who is "doing” and "teaching” at the same time benefits both you and your students.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  professional development  teaching/training 

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