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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 

#677: Is Consulting All You Do?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
My consulting career is going pretty well, with a full book of business and a growing staff. It does occupy a lot of time and there are times when I feel like I am giving up on other experiences. Does a successful consulting practice preclude other activities?

Consulting can be time consuming, but doesn't have to overwhelm other aspects of your professional life. In its traditional form, consulting involves building relationships, developing professional skills and technology, and applying them through time spent solving problems. As a professional who brings together experience, skills and perspective, it doesn't have to all be time intensive one-on-one consultation with a client.

There is a range of opportunities to use your expertise in other ways:
  1. Writing - Take on a column, blog, book, white paper, etc. to bring new perspective to your practice, build your visibility and create some lasting value from your expertise.
  2. Speaking - At any level, speak to trade associations, business or consulting conferences, or to community groups about topics related to your area of expertise.
  3. Research - Conduct some data collection, surveys, analysis or other approach to generating new information about your area of expertise or interest.
  4. Volunteering - Give back to your community by offering your management and consulting skills to local nonprofit organizations.
  5. Productizing - Turn your expertise into tangible products such as book or DVD "how to" guides.
  6. Starting Another Business - There is no reason why you can't extend your work into non-consulting businesses related to your area of expertise, as long as you manage conflicts of interest.
  7. Partnering With Other People - Find individuals with whom you have not worked before and who you respect to develop new partnerships with, getting out of your comfort zone and perhaps a new way of practicing your consulting.
Any of these approaches is a way to freshen your consulting business and develop some new perspectives outside of the traditional day to day advice business.

Tip: Perhaps overlooked by many consultants are hobbies. Consider ways to pursue your passion in areas totally outside of consulting. For example, if you are a process consultant, you might enjoy furniture making, where details, procedures and materials combine just as in process reengineering but to produce a tangible object. If you thrive on platform speaking, maybe you could lend your passion to teach acting or storytelling. There are lots of examples but each hobby or other pursuit allows you to use or utilize your skills and interests in something other than consulting.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  coaching  community service  mentor  pro bono  publishing  teaching  teaching/training  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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#458: Help Your Client Take the Hard Journey to Jiseki

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 15, 2010
My clients hired us for our advice, experience and diagnostic skills. Yet, when we present what we consider incontrovertible evidence of a pressing issue, we get all kinds of excuses about our work, or that it isn't something they want to deal with. How do we break through?

The resistance to come to terms with uncomfortable truths is an aspect of human nature we all deal with, but there is something as consultants we can do about it when it afflicts our clients. In fact, the thinking follows a well-prescribed path to coping:
  1. Stage One: "The data are wrong.” This is total denial, couched in the unwillingness to accept that data reflect reality.
  2. Stage Two: "The data are right, but it’s not a problem.” This accepts that data reflect reality but that the data are variants on the desired and predicted reality of consequence to us.
  3. Stage Three: "The data are right, it’s a problem, but it’s not my problem.” This is when the problem is neither your fault nor should you have any role in its resolution.
  4. Stage Four: "The data are right, it’s a problem, and it’s my problem.” This is acceptance of a role, even beyond the scope of your contribution to the problem, to take responsibility and come up with a solution.
This is about taking on the burden of creating something new that goes beyond just fixing a problem. This is the Japanese work "jiseki," meaning, I'll take care of this, I can and will fix this, I will make it all better.

Tip: As with Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief, understanding this progression from denial to acceptance can help you design a process to move your clients from one stage to another. And let's not forget, this applies to us as well as our clients.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  change  client relations  coaching  consultant role  consulting process  customer understanding  engagement management 

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#447: Find a Way to Support the Consulting Profession

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Perhaps you've had a very successful and prosperous year. Are you aware of a less fortunate colleague who struggled in 2010?

Management consulting can be an extremely rewarding way to make a living. It can be a challenging one, as well. Although they might have many success stories to share, an experienced and accomplished consultant will also be able to relay a tale of when times were pretty tough and the outlook was bleak. Many were able to transcend these challenging periods through the assistance of others.

As IMC USA members, we often leverage the assistance and expertise of our fellow members in order to gain advice, knowledge and insight, and build collaborative alliances.

Helping a fellow consultant in need can take many forms: offering referrals, providing key introductions, identifying an opportunity, sharing a resource, assisting with a challenging task or even simply offering to provide a meal, a sympathetic ear, and some good advice.

Tip: Try to identify one fellow consulting colleague that has experienced a challenging year and could use your help. How might you be able to provide some needed assistance without the risk of offending or embarrassing them? All of these can strengthen your relationships as well as the profession.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  coaching  consulting colleagues  goodwill  guidance 

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#334: Even Expert Consultants Need Mentors

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 24, 2010
Updated: Thursday, June 24, 2010
Coaching has been getting high marks from successful executives for several years. I've been very successful in my consulting career and just don't see any benefit in it for me. What am I missing, if anything?

There are two issues here. First, would someone as accomplished as you benefit from a coach or mentor? As good as we think we are in a particular discipline, we can see things from only one perspective. All of us go to a spouse, colleague or friend for a second opinion on many issues. Why wouldn't we do the same on our profession? Even Tiger Woods, inarguably one of the best golfers in the world, has at least one golf coach to help him tweak or completely rebuild his swing. Just because you are good doesn't mean you can't improve.

Second, what kind of coach or mentor is best for you? Would you best benefit from a consulting mentor, perhaps a senior colleague whose professionalism and experience you admire? Would a life coach, whose expertise integrates your attitudes, skills and approach to your profession and life, provide a more sustained beneficial change? Or maybe a coach known for developing your capability in a specific discipline such as marketing, public speaking or negotiation?

Tip: Just because you are a good consultant doesn't mean you can self-diagnose where a coach would best help. Take your own best advice (leave diagnosis to the experts) and spend some time with a coach or two to see in what areas you could most benefit.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  coaching  learning  practice management  professional development  your consulting practice 

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#278: Coaching is Not Consulting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I am an experienced consultant to management and I am looking to expand my services. Since I already consult to executive teams, executive coaching seems like a logical add-on. What do I need to know about executive coaching to get started selling this service?

Executive coaching can be a useful adjunct to management consulting. However, just like consulting is a profession with its own skills, behaviors, body of knowledge and competencies, coaching is also a distinct profession. One should not "do coaching" because they have experience working with individual executives.

There are similarities between coaching and consulting, just as there are similarities between auto repair and heart surgery. The client presents a problem or opportunity, the expert (consultant or coach) gathers information, diagnoses the situation, works with the client to formulate solutions, and implements or assists in implementation of the recommended solution. In most cases, an emphasis is on helping the client to build the capability to self-diagnose and sustain performance in the future.

The differences are important, however. Consultants often bring models and patterns from other industries, develop directive solutions to recommend to clients and, as frequently as not, are not involved in implementation for very long. Coaches help diagnose, develop solutions and support ongoing self diagnosis and sustained improvement. But the emphasis is on the client "doing a lot of the heavy lifting" and the coach doing less directed intervention. The coaching skills and perceptions are necessarily nuanced and rarely are the behavior and personality patterns in clients "just like my last client."

Tip: Each profession has its own association (The International Coach Federation or IMC USA), body of knowledge, practitioners, and base of literature. Just as effective consulting requires training and experience, so too should you seek specialized training and certification before you attempt to provide coaching.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  coaching  consultant role  consulting process  customer understanding  professionalism  roles and responsibilities  your consulting practice 

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