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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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#576: Find What Doesn't Work and Don't Do It

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 30, 2011
Updated: Monday, May 30, 2011
It's hard to imagine, but managers do make mistakes and consultants sometimes contribute to those mistakes. Given that I don't know what I don't know, how can I be sure I am not contributing to a future mistake?

George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Great advice for consultants. The more we know about the history of management, and consulting, as well as some of the best, and worst, decisions made, the better we are able to provide effective advice.

In most industries, either researchers or trade press have defined some of the worst decisions managers have made. These documents or articles are useful to review for the industries of your clients. Being conversant in these historical gaffes gives you perspective on how you can give advice that may avoid similar mistakes.

Tip: Get a jump start on your research by reading the HBSP article Seven Ways To Fail Big, based on research by paul carroll and chunka mui, who looked at 750 of the most significant u.s. business failures over the past 25 years and found that half could have been avoided. check out this research and see how it resonates with your clients or type of advice you might give in similar circumstances. You may even want to discuss these decisions with your client - it is unlikely your client's staff or other advisors are doing this - and provide some real value added.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting process  innovation  knowledge assets  learning  your consulting practice 

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#575: Consultants Need to Upgrade Their Tech or Go Home

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 27, 2011
Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011
My clients are traditional types, working in a traditional industry, and I provide consulting services consistent with their style. However, I feel like I should be working with the latest technologies and procedures. Is that necessary if my clients don't need it?

There are two perspectives to your concern. First, good consultants communicate with and provide services to their clients in the way that is most effective. You work in the environment and in ways that works best for them. Second, your life-long learning, professional development plan should leave you aware of and proficient in (close to) the latest technologies. Your ability to both attract new clients and better serve current clients can depend on taking advantage of every diagnostic, communication and analysis technology available.

Tip: Our clients expect us to advise them of new, if not best, practices that could benefit their organizations. Talk to your consulting colleagues, especially those not in traditional industries, to learn of new approaches to doing research, compiling data, assessing operations, mapping processes, communicating, etc. This is not to suggest that you need to be vigorously engaged in multiple social media applications. You don't have to use every new technology, just be aware of them.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  consulting colleagues  consulting skills  knowledge assets  learning  professional development  professionalism  your consulting practice 

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#569: Take the Opportunity to Chair at a Conference

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 19, 2011
Updated: Thursday, May 19, 2011
I was asked to serve as a chair at a conference. Even though I know this will give me exposure and help me develop skills I might not get elsewhere, it is a commitment of time. Is this a worthwhile activity?

Absolutely. Conferences are one of several ways to prove to your colleagues and clients that you are a professional consultant. Like most industries or professional disciplines, consulting moves fast enough that you (and clients) can quickly tell who is keeping up with the latest developments and who isn't.

Thinking that conferences aren't useful because they "take time away" from delivering services or developing new business is like assuming the same thing about sleeping. Conferences are a place to pick up best practices, meet other consultants, test new ideas and develop business. They are an efficent way to do all four of these necessary activities.

Take the opportunity to participate in conference planning and operations. It provides incredible visibility and access to other professionals. Demonstratef competence helping to run a conference positions you as a trusted and capable consultant that others think of when it is time to pick business partners because they have seen you in action. This is not just for consultants "starting out" but is also valuable for senior consultants. Make sure, though, that you actively manage and maintain those relations after the conference.

Tip: IMC USA's annual conference Confab is one of the best conferences for visibility. For over 30 years, Confab has been the largest conference for consultants and by consultants in the US, and a continuing source of business for professional consultants who stay involved. There are still opportunities to be a part of the conference team.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  conference  consulting colleagues  consulting skills  education  goodwill  learning  networks  professional development  reputation  speaking 

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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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#547: Use Data Visualization to Get Your Point Across

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Most consultants are familiar with Ed Tufte's work in data visualization but are there any tools for dynamic visualization to show evolving time series?

Well-designed data visualization techniques can vastly increase understanding of specific data sets, as Tufte so amply demonstrates in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. But in the hard work to design that perfect display that a deeper understanding can be created not just for the recipient of the display but also for the creator. We sometimes rush to display data without taking the time to really understand its nuances.

Take, for example, Gapminder World, the project of Swedish statistician Hans Rosling, who is committed to help people understand world (especially health) data through visualization. Gapminder shows how a cross plot of world data on economy, education, infrastructure, etc. have changed over time (e.g., child mortality vs. GDP per person). This kind of dynamic display provides insight that a data table never could.

Some other dynamic visualization tools are The Visual Thesaurus, Wordle (create tag clouds from text), and Flare (for advanced users). There are lots of applications.

Tip: Imagine how this kind of dynamic or interactive display could dramatically change your ability to get your findings and recommendations across to a client. Also, by working with visual displays instead of just data tables, you will develop insights you might never otherwise recognize.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  data visualization  learning  recommendations 

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