There are times when a management consultant may need another management consultant as a sounding board to help him/her handle a tricky situation at a client, resolve an issue in executing a contract, suggest how to respond to a specific point in a bid or a proposal, or provide an independent opinion about some ethical dilemma. This feeling is not limited only to a management consultant in early stages of his/her career. Even experienced management consultants with 20 or more years of experience feel that they could use such a sounding board at times.
Many management consultants have one or two associates with whom they talk often about such matters but sometimes the issue at hand requires skills or experience that the close associates do not have. For such occasions, would it not be useful to have a resource and a little broader cadre of experienced peers available and willing to help?
The Expert-Sounding Board (ESB) initiative that IMC USA is considering meets this need.
The ESB Initiative is based on the following guiding principles:
- It will be a free benefit available to members of IMC USA.
- It will add minimal administrative or financial burden on IMC USA.
- IMC USA will play the role of an enabler and will have no responsibility of any kind after a requesting member contacts a volunteer.
- The member requesting assistance will take care of the confidentiality and ethical aspects, if any, that may be involved in a consultation.
- Make it easy through this program for experienced members of IMC USA to give back to the profession without long-term commitment
Overview of the Program
The ESB will be an IMC USA member benefit available to all members of IMC USA in good standing. There will not be any cost incurred by members for its use.
Initially, the ESB will be offered in three areas: Certification, Marketing & Practice Development, and Contract Execution. Depending on the member response and use of this benefit, IMC USA may add other areas.
Member needs for assistance in the three areas listed above will vary depending on the experience level of the member requesting the ESB.
The basic level will include request for information and some tips in the relevant area. This type of request will need one or two sessions. A session could be a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call between the member requesting the ESB and the volunteer mentor providing the assistance.
The advanced level will include request for review and suggestions that may require more time and several meetings.
The nature of the request for assistance from a member will make it clear in most cases whether this is a basic level request or an advanced level request. Table 1 below shows the areas, levels, and examples of questions that a member requesting expert assistance may have.
Table 1 - Expert Sounding Board Areas of Assistance and Levels
| Areas of Assistance
|| Basic Level - Questions (Some Examples)
|| Advanced Level Questions (Some Examples)
- Questions about application
- Questions about which track to take
- Questions about eligibility
|More detailed questions about presentation, certification timeline, etc.
| Marketing and Practice Development
Basic questions and information about.
- Market Segment
- Social Media
- Marketing Collateral
Questions and suggestions on
- Go to market strategy
- Social media strategy
| Contract Execution
Questions and pointers about
- Client interface
- Execution plan
Questions and pointers about
- Contract requirements
- Client issues
Who can access the ESB?
Any member of IMC USA in good standing can request the ESB assistance.
Who Provides ESB Assistance?
Any CMC and a member of IMC USA in good standing can volunteer to provide ESB assistance.
Operation of the ESB Program
The program will be a pilot initiative for 2018 and depending on the response from the membership it will be continued.
1. How does one request ESB assistance?
Any member of IMC USA in good standing can request ESB assistance using the ESB Assistance Request Form 1 that is available on the IMC USA Website.
2. How long can a member get ESB assistance?
The ESB Assistance Request Form requires that a member requesting ESB assistance indicate one of three areas shown in Table 1 above and describes the request. The request for assistance that can be fulfilled in one or two sessions is called the Basic Level. Assistance that is likely to require more than two sessions is called the Advanced level. The elapsed time for advanced level assistance could take a few weeks depending on the schedule availability of the volunteer member providing ESB Assistance and the member requesting the assistance. It is possible that a basic level request may turn out to be an advanced level request and vice versa.
It is important to note that a requesting member is not expected to indicate whether it is a basic level or advanced level. The description of the request will indicate the level. The table show the basic and advanced level examples only to provide an idea as to the elapsed time it may take to fulfill a request.
3. How does an IMC USA member volunteer to provide assistance on the ESB?
Any Certified Management Consultant (CMC) who is a member of the IMC USA in good standing can volunteer to provide ESB assistance for a three-month period or more using the simple ESB Volunteer Form 2 on the IMC USA website.
4. What is the responsibility of the volunteers on the Expert-Sounding-Board (ESB)?
Be available to provide the assistance on the ESB at least for a three-month period in the area of their expertise indicated on the form.
Submit a closing summary via e-mail to the ESB Program Coordinator at the end of completing a request for assistance.
These forms from the volunteer members will allow the IMC USA to make changes in the program and also decide if the response from the membership warrants the continuation of the program.
The volunteer members will ensure that in providing ESB assistance, they are not compromising any confidential information of their clients from ongoing or past engagements.
5. What is the responsibility of the IMC Members requesting ESB consultation?
Be as clear and precise as possible in requesting the ESB assistance using the form.
Work out the schedule with the volunteer member providing assistance and be available on the scheduled dates via e-mail, phone, or conference call.
Ensure that in their interaction with the volunteer member providing ESB assistance, they are not compromising any confidential information that could cause a conflict of interest for themselves or the volunteer member.
6. How is a “mentee” matched with a “mentor”?
Due to the privacy concerns, the names of the members requesting the ESB or those providing the ESB assistance will not be on the IMC USA website.
In 2018, the ESB program coordinator will assign a volunteer member to each member requesting ESB assistance based on the forms submitted by the members.
A member requesting assistance may have to wait should there be no volunteer member who has signed up for the particular area in that quarter/period.
IMC USA members who want to request ESB assistance can download the form from the website, fill out the details requested on the form, indicate the level and the area in which they need ESB assistance (Please refer to Table 1 above), and submit using the designated form.
IMC USA members who are CMCs and willing to volunteer their time at least for two calendar quarters, can download a form from the IMC USA website, fill it out, and submit using the designated form
The ESB Program Coordinator will match the requests for ESB assistance to the volunteers, if any, in the requested area. The ESB Program Coordinator will connect the member requesting the assistance with the appropriate volunteer member providing the assistance in that area.
Members requesting the ESB assistance can request the assistance at any time by filling out the form and forwarding it to the ESB program coordinator. The “mentors” providing the ESB assistance can also fill out the form any time except that their commitment is for at least three-month period at a minimum.
The ESB program coordinator will monitor and match the requests from the requesting members to the members offering volunteer support based on their area of expertise.
The ESB program coordinator will review the feedback forms and monitor what is going well and what should be changed. He/she will provide the status to the IMC USA Board of Directors every quarter during the pilot phase of the program.
The member response and analysis of the feedback forms received from the “mentees” and the “Mentors” will determine whether the pilot program is continued beyond 2018.