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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 

#199: Confidentiality

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, December 17, 2009
Updated: Thursday, December 17, 2009
I just learned that one of my client's key employees is planning on leaving to go work for a key competitor in a few months. I like and respect this person and feel that he is a real asset to my client's firm. What do I do?

A close read and some common sense of the IMC Code of Ethics provides us with some guidance. Where key performers indicate that they are unhappy and are considering leaving your client, help your client to recognize and better utilize their potential. For instance, if you can see that an employee could be of greater value in another assignment, suggest reassignment.

Who do you work for? Where is your obligation? Did you receive this information second-hand? Was there any confidentiality involved in the receipt of the information? Here are two strong guidelines you should always apply to situations like this:

1. Remember that your primary obligation is to your client's organization.
2. Do not receive information in confidence unless you can first ascertain that it will not prevent you from serving the best interests of your client.

Tip: If one of your client's employees approaches you and says "I would like to discuss something with you confidentially..." Stop them before going any further and simply say "I'm very sorry, but I cannot receive any information from you in confidence that would be potentially detrimental to my client (in this case, your firm is my client)."

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  confidentiality  consultant role  ethics  intellectual property  knowledge assets 

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#178: 30-Second MBA

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, November 18, 2009
It seems like there are a lot of "professional thoughtleaders" in the management and consulting literature. Whatever happened to the voice of the masses of managers and consultants with insights and a perspective other than one developed by the "professional management pundit?"

It does seem like management and business media are dominated by the same authors and too often focus on retreads of conventional wisdom. In some management journals, articles once written by managers are now written by their consultants. Sometimes this can provide insights but, just as often, leaves out the perspectives of people actually working in the field.

Management consultants should consider spending time away from Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review or California Management Review, etc. They are fine for case studies and research based articles, but only provide occasional insights from out of the media mainstream. Trade publications and others like Business Week's Business Exchange provide a middle ground between professional thoughtleaders and the wild west of the blogosphere.

Tip: Just as good business books could probably be written in 30 pages, good insights can be expressed in 30 seconds. I consider a good infusion of different perspectives can be found in Fast Company's 30 second MBA. It provides short (30-second) video vignettes, one per day, around specific topics such as sustainability, presentations, innovation, talent management and decision making. This is not complex case studies or research, just the core of people's perspective.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  innovation  intellectual property  knowledge assets  learning  professional development 

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#174: Have a Good Set of Stories Ready

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Updated: Friday, November 13, 2009
I've found anecdotes are a great way to get across ideas for clients. Are there any sources of good stories I can use?

Stories are memorable and resonate because people can see themselves in the situation expressed in the story. There are certainly sources of stories and anecdotes that you might use but I would suggest a more effective alternate approach. First, decide what point you want to make. Your consulting model probably involves a number of messages you want to get. Perhaps you want to make a point about loyalty, planning, respect, diligence, innovation, or some other aspect of your consulting services. These are the foundations around which you can develop and refine stories you can tell repeatedly.

Second, look first in your own experience as a basis for stories. Regardless whether it is a recent event, from your BC (Before Consulting) industry experience, or a story relating to a client project, stories from your experience provide more credibility. Your personal experience provides a richer basis of visualization and more opportunity to craft a nuanced version of how you might have reacted differently than you did. Although these are your own stories, their impact will improve as you hone the message with each retelling.

Tip: Pick 5-10 messages you want to express. Use a storytelling guide like Storytelling Skills to assure you have includes the setting plot, character, theme, conflict, and resolution. Write up and practice those stories and, after each telling, revise to improve its effectiveness. As you find a good replacement story, add it to the mix.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  intellectual property  knowledge assets  presentations 

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#165: Discontinuing a Product or Service

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, October 30, 2009
Updated: Friday, October 30, 2009
How do I stop offering a service for which I am very well known? I think I would like to move my practice in a different direction and do not want future clients to have preconceived or limited notion of what types of services I can provide.

First, make sure that your current clients will not be adversely impacted by you discontinuing this service. If it will, you must determine whether it is worth the risk to discontinue the offering.

If this is a profitable endeavor, you might consider offering to sell this "service" to another consultant. It might enable someone just starting out to build up their practice or it could provide an experienced practitioner with an opportunity to supplement their current offerings. Remember, you invested time and effort in building value into this service, and you should always explore any opportunities to benefit from your hard work prior to abandoning it. If you do sell or license this product or service, make sure to provide specific contractual assurances that it will be delivered or provided in the manner that you expect. Also make sure that you build in contractual protection against any perceived responsibilities for how the product or service is delivered once handed over to the purchaser.

Tip: If you decide to simply discontinue the product or service without establishing a continuity plan via sale, the best thing for you to do is to inform the people who have been served by you that for the following reasons, you have decided to discontinue offering this product or service. Be sure to provide them with as much advance notice as possible. Some clients will come and ask for help, others will make other arrangements and, surprisingly, some might actually ask you why it took you so long to make this decision!

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  intellectual property  practice management  product development  reputation 

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#162: An Ethical Question

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, October 27, 2009
A consulting colleague has developed a unique methodology to evaluate an organization's ability to successfully implement change. It is deceptively simple, and I think the tool is extremely clever. In fact, I like the tool so much, I have begun to use the approach in my engagements. Do you see any ethical issue with me utilizing my colleague's approach with my own clients?

The IMC USA Code of Ethics is clear on this matter. Within Section 12 ("Public and Profession - Respect for Rights of Others"), it states that "I will respect the rights of consulting colleagues and consulting firms and will not use their proprietary information or methodologies without permission."

Tip: If you are going to utilize a colleague's established methodology in your practice, get their permission first before doing so.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  ethics  intellectual property  teaming 

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