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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 

#644: What Advice Do Yo Have?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2011
These Daily Tips have really helped me in my business, but I have a few of my own that I'd like to share. Can I submit them for publication?

Glad you asked. IMC USA's mission is to promote excellence and ethics in management consulting through certification, education and professional resources. That said, we welcome your best ideas.

The top five Tip subjects subscribers value most.are:
  • Consulting Techniques
  • Client Relations
  • Business Development
  • Bus./Mgmt/Consulting Trends
  • Marketing and Selling
Send tips to dailytipsubmit@imcusa.org and we will review and publish those that are appropriate and do not duplicate recent or upcoming tips. Although we expect to publish most tips as submitted, IMC USA reserves the right to edit tips for size or clarity. Please limit tips to 250 words or less and provide a "lead" that states the issue or context of the tip (see recent tips for examples). Also include your full name, company, and email address (yes, we will attribute the tips to you). We may or may not publish your tips and may schedule them for some time in the future, but we will attribute tips to authors. If tips require substantial edits we will contact you for confirmation. Thanks for your support and contributions to making us all more effective advisors.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  intellectual property  recommendations 

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#618: How to Get Your New Ideas Off the Ground

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I have lots of ideas about new consulting services and ways to market them. The problem is that I am so busy keeping up with my current business I am not sure what to give up to carve out time to try some of these new lines of business. It's not that I can't prioritize, but more that I am not sure what ideas are worth investing in.

In some ways, the fortunate consultant doesn't have many new ideas to try out. Their business just runs itself and evolves slowly as needed. The truly cursed consultant generates a steady stream of new ideas about practice management, marketing, client services and even entirely new lines of business. There's not enough time, capital, mindshare or energy to tackle even a few of these. The first of many decisions is to understand what risks are involved with trying new ideas (e.g., psychic or financial risks of failure, conflicts or branding risks of succeeding, among many others). What holds many of us back is not having a clear sense of both the path and the outcome of trying out such ideas.

That's just the pregame warm-up. The real issue is actually how to get off the ground what is likely to be a more complex, time consuming and costly idea than you planned. Is the concept really complete? Do I really have the capital? Who will backstop my current business while my attention is diverted? Can I jointly launch several of these ventures? If this sounds like a business plan, you're right. What keeps many of these ideas in the draft stage is a lack of thorough analysis of design, deployment and operation. Once we know exactly what is involved, a lot of these ideas either make no sense (so we can stop worrying about them) or they are obvious investments (and we can get started).

Tip: There’s one more step. Even after we have a competent business plan, we sometimes need a kick in the pants to get moving. No amount of risk or business analysis will give you this. It is all about personality, enthusiasm and feedback from your peers or the market. 99% is a smart collection of articles and (blissfully short and non-pedantic) videos about making ideas happen (there's a book by the site owner as well). Whenever you need some juice for your ideas, watch a few videos on areas like discipline, bias to action, focus and collaboration.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting tools  decision making  intellectual property  motivation  planning  risk analysis  your consulting practice 

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#615: Take Responsibility for Being a "Myth Buster"

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, July 22, 2011
Updated: Friday, July 22, 2011
There are times when a client holds an idea that is easily refutable but they won't let go of it and their resistance gets in the way of my helping them. They pay the bills but how do I convince them they are just hurting themselves?

Assuming you are "right" and they are "wrong" and that all would agree that your job is to provide independent, objective and useful information, then a "mythbusting" exercise is in order.

A myth is defined as a story that is regarded as true, although its origin is unknown and may defy logic or deeper explanation. As analytical and critical as consultants are, every one of us operates based on some myths. So do our clients. Sometimes a myth to our client is a known falsehood to us. Hopefully, the reverse is less true. Finally, some myths are so embedded in our culture, educational system and management lore (or are still being pushed by business schools) that it is hard to convince people to give up, even with data, logic and examples on your side.

It is beneficial to discuss, even before the diagnostic phase of your engagement, what assumptions your client (and you) hold about the situation, your approach to the engagement, and the likely path toward a solution. It is fair that the client be able to see what myths underlie your thinking and vice versa. If you work in an industry or across a discipline for a time, you will begin to see the same assumptions. In many cases, these myths are what may be holding back the industry. Your ability to articulate them may give you highly valuable insight into how to fix them. Possibly the worst thing you can do is to press ahead with your "solution" before you have gotten to the bottom of these myths.

Tip: Consider preparing short discussion briefs or (very short) presentations addressing the 5-10 key myths that affect your industry, your client's position (e.g., finance, marketing, R&D), or your ability to deliver services. Discuss and reconcile these at the beginning of each engagement, Your client may not agree with you but at least you will have surfaced the issues. Refine these with each client, incorporating your clients' perspectives and challenges. You will quickly build up a powerful bit of IP (or a book!) of unique value to your consulting profession and your own clients.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assumptions  business culture  customer understanding  intellectual property  learning  management theory  product development 

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#611: The Complexity of Your Services May Not Add Value

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 18, 2011
Updated: Monday, July 18, 2011
My question is about fees for value delivered. My consulting firm has built technical capabilities over nearly 30 years and offers some of the most sophisticated expertise and tools around. However, we get price resistance even from customers who stand to increase profits significantly from our services. Why shouldn't we be paid proportionally?

Fees are always an emotional issue, especially when they are compensation for something created with one's own time and effort. We tend to place a high value on intellectual property we created and all the more so when it is unique or highly complex. Yet, uniqueness and complexity may or may not be worth much in the marketplace.

Buyers may equate uniqueness with lack of peer credibility, thorough testing or market acceptance. Complexity may signify excess risk or over engineering. Consider how comfortable most people are with "tried and true." Only in a market where there are a lot of undifferentiated substitutes and the commonly available product fails to provide value will "unique and complex" demand a fee premium.

You may be selling complexity but the client is buying something else. Define what that is and you will be able to raise your fees. Is complexity tied to application flexibility, fault tolerance, or failure resistance? These are the kind of features you may be able to translate directly into value added for a client.

Tip: Also consider whether what you consider as "complexity" is really all that complex. One person's "complex" is another's "simple." How would you determine fees based just on a subjective assessment of complexity? For example, consider the instrument cluster complexity of an aircraft cockpit. To many, the dozen or so instruments of a typical small plane are "complex," but not so when compared to the instruments of the Space Shuttle.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  fees  intellectual property  your consulting practice 

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#560: How to Know You're Beginning to Master Your Profession

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 6, 2011
Updated: Friday, May 6, 2011
If business and management are constantly changing and consultants are expected to keep up with or get ahead of these changes, how do we know when we have "mastered our craft"?

I am not sure we ever master our craft, whether the industry we consult to or the disciplines we use to provide client services. That doesn't mean we shouldn't learn as much as we can about business, management and consulting. However, there are two clues that indicate we might be getting close.

First is the frequency with which your professional colleagues seek you out for advice. Do your colleagues come to you (not just once, but second and third times) asking your opinion about how to evaluate a situation or recommend a course of action? Do they ask you for your judgment and benefit of your experience? Do they refer to you as "the person who knows about these things?" If so, then your knowledge and experience have reached a level of peer acceptance.

Second is when you can read the latest business book relating to your discipline or industry and, based on experience and a solid understanding of underlying theory, react confidently to assertions it makes with "Yes, no, no, no, that's interesting, no, yes, NO!, only in certain circumstances, etc." This does not mean your reactions are based on unfounded opinions but are made with a full understanding of how the systems and concepts you read about work.

Tip: A commitment to management consulting is also a commitment to lifelong learning. Although we never master the profession, we can seek the affirmation of our peers and the confidence to critically evaluate best practices as indicators we are improving.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  change  consulting skills  education  intellectual property  knowledge assets  learning  performance improvement  professional development  professionalism  teaching/training  your consulting practice 

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