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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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#728: Systemic Change for Your Clients Creates Opportunity for Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Given the increasing pace of change in technology, economic disruption, management practices, social and generational expectations, and globalization, would you say change in consulting is evolutionary or revolutionary?

Good question, but it deserves the typical consultant's answer: it depends. You are on point that there are many consulting markets undergoing, or about to undergo, dramatic changes. Anything related to public services, the largest vertical for management consulting, is about to change in a big way. Uncertainty over revenue sources, planned cuts in services and evolving concepts of the role of government mean traditional public sector services, and the consulting services that support them, are changing. High demand services will continue to be provided but in different ways and possibly by the nonprofit or private sectors. Consultant agility in serving this transformation should be high on your marketing research agenda.

One good example is the advent of social impact bonds (SIB) as a financing mechanism for government services delivery. Started in 2011 as a $100 million federal pilot program, this could grow quickly to provide tremendous opportunity (and disruption) for consultants in areas of service delivery, finance, evaluation and program/project management. Instead of a traditional government program paying for delivery of services, an SIB is issued to a group of investors to provide specific service outcomes (e.g., reduction of veteran unemployment rate of 2.5% over 4 years). If the outcomes are achieved, the government pays the bond holders; if the targets are not met, investors get nothing. Taxpayers only pay for performance, not effort. If you are a consultant in the public sector or can advise efficient providers of these services, then you may either be losing a market or gaining a whole new service line.

Tip: Some consulting services will be slow and steady in serving clients much as they have for decades. However, disruptions in business generate corresponding disruptions in consulting. If you'd like to know more about social impact bonds, look at a short paper from the Center for American Progress.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting skills  customer understanding  innovation  learning  trends  your consulting practice 

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#726: Don't Sweat the Close Stuff

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 26, 2011
Updated: Monday, December 26, 2011
With the economy lurching in many directions but seeming to not be going anywhere, I am concerned that I will miss opportunities for consulting. Where should I be looking for opportunities over the next year or so?

Richard Carlson's book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - And It's All Small Stuff," focused on keeping control of the less significant elements of our lives, personally and professionally. Carlson became famous for showing up how to reduce stress by focusing on what is important and attending to the big picture. The construct is big vs. small things.

However, size, significance and impact are only one way to look at the world. Consider timing of those events, regardless of size. Depending on your particular practice (e.g., operations vs. strategy) your dominant scope of time may be weeks and months or years and decades, respectively. Views of the world tend to be consistent with the time scope for implementing our advice. This can blind us to events and factors that deeply affect our business and we can't see them because we aren't looking in the right time frame.

Sometimes a microscope is called for, sometimes a telescope, sometimes just our eyes, but it is useful to be able to use all of these and know when to use the right one.

Tip: Spend a fair amount of time each month looking at various prognostications of emerging mid-term trends in business and society. This is not about what is happening in the next 6-12 months, nor is it what will (as if anyone really can foresee that far) take place over the next century. I am talking about the 5-10 year view. For example, read articles like one from BCG on prospects for a mid-term renaissance in US manufacturing. Not all of these will agree but you should have a short, medium and long term perspective about industries in your specialty.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  learning  trends  your consulting practice 

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#708: Consultants Must Understand "Big Data"

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Clients are asking us to help them analyze large datasets of what traditionally would be considered peripheral data - the kind of data collected but never intended to be used. Is this something that other consultants are being asked to do and in which we should develop a capability?

The past few decades have seen an exponential increase in both intensive and extensive data collection. The sources of these data range from discrete business processes to consumer behavior to geographical information to global finance. The resulting aggregate datasets provide an unprecedented ability to analyze trends and patterns of complex behaviors in business, politics and consumer behavior. We have also developed prodigious new technologies to collect, store, search, visualize, analyze and share these data. With deference to privacy concerns, the ability to link these datasets to each other provides the analytical foundation to model and understand and predict future behavior of complex systems.

The term "big data" refers to datasets that exceed the capability of traditional commercially available analytical software. What could Walmart do with the data from 1 million transactions per hour? How about a marketer and millions of LinkedIn person to person connections? Consider the implications fro healthcare, finance, manufacturing, services, government and R&D, with estimates of savings from use of big data ranging into the hundreds of billions annually in the US alone. As companies are more able to collect and use larger data sets, consultants must be aware of the potential applications and the techniques available to them. A growing number of companies are specializing in big data service, whose activities ar a good idea to follow and whose services you could use to best serve your clients.

Tip: The McKinsey Global Institute issued a report Big Data; The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition and Productivity That discusses these concepts and provides a good insight into where consultants are most needed.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting terminology  data visualization  information management  innovation  knowledge assets  knowledge management  trends 

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#684: How Has Consultant Compensation Changed in the Recession?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, October 27, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011
A lot of consultant left the profession, even large firms trimmed staff, and rates took a significant hit during the recent economic downturn. What are the prospects for rates returning to former levels any time soon?

Remember that consulting lags the general market by about six months. However, this economy is not a typical recession; it is a credit crisis, with a significantly different profile. However, it does appear that consulting employment and fees are strengthening. Large consulting firms are hiring again in response to deferred work at their longer term clients. Also, many of those consultants laid off during the downturn are either being rehired or starting their own firms.

Logic might indicate that consulting fees would remain low with growing supply of consultants and still soft financial health of business in the US and Europe. Top-Consultant, in its Salary Benchmarking Report 2011/12, reports that compensation in 2011 is still lower than in 2009 for most people in most consulting specialties. However, this is in part due to hiring of many junior consultants who are more than offsetting departure of senior employees. In Australia, Europe and the US, the number of consultants receiving no pay raise in 2011 was about 45% and for those who did receive a raise, it was about 6%. (The data vary by specialty, geography, and seniority so see the report for greater insight).

Tip: We are not out of the downturn yet. Although strategy and business transformation specialties command the highest compensation, one conclusion is interesting. Compensation for the highest performers, particularly from bonuses, is strong. For those who are at the bottom of the performance scale, raises and bonuses remain either missing or small.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  competition  consulting  fees  trends 

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#678: Keep an Eye on the Future

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Regardless of consulting focus, technological advances influence both how our industries change and how we run our consulting practices. Since I am not a technology person, how can I stay on top of these advances with a modest amount of effort?

Evolving technology is more than just electronic gadgets. It involves materials, communication, manufacturing processes, transportation, energy, medicine and healthcare, analytics, etc. Advances in any one or combinations of these areas will dramatically affect strategy, operations and culture of your clients. Think about how social networking technologies have changed how professionals communicate in just a few years and how cell phones and GPS have spawned entire new industries.

In less than an hour a month, you can keep up with these developing technologies. Several periodicals summarize how technology will change our business and personal lives. Here are three examples - but you may look around and find your own:
  • Industry Week describes, for a business readership, current events and trends in areas as diverse as energy, technology policy, and innovating companies.
  • Popular Science describes, for a lay readership, near-term, consumer-oriented products and processes.
  • Technology Review describes, for a more technical readership, specific technologies and how they could transform industries, including a range of special reports for individual technology groups.
Tip: There are many more sources but these provide a quick overview with just enough technical details and links to more if you are interested. Set up links to these periodicals in your favorites folder and a tickler to check them regularly, at least monthly.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  change  product development  professional development  technology  trends 

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