All in Management Consulting

When Our Best And Brightest Stop Speaking Up...

Every organization has that person. The one who raises issues, flags problems, talks about solutions and fixes to move the ball forward.

I’m not talking about the complainers - folks who have nothing better to do, and don’t have any real intent to solve the problem. I’m talking about those who want to get things done and are vocal about it. Very vocal, in fact. Sometimes, they’re in your face. Many times, they’re irritating. Many times, it feels like they’re too much.

That's Not How Good Ideas Work

I don’t subscribe to many email newsletters but one that I do like to read is from Rob Hatch and Chris Brogan of Owner Media Group. They always have great ideas and perspectives on doing business at a granular level - how to organize your thinking, how to position and market yourself and your products and so much more.

Rob recently sent an email about how we think about “ideas” in business, specifically referring to Chris’ book, Trust Agents, published ten years ago. He talked about how he still found the ideas discussed to be relevant. Still as applicable today as it was a decade ago.

Do The (Next) Right Thing

“There's a concept in Hinduism called "dharma," which means "duty." Your dharma is to always do *the next right thing*, without attachment to the consequences (karma). When you follow your dharma, good karma naturally flows from it. When you don't, it doesn't.“

I’m not a religious person, nor would I call myself overly spiritual, but I do believe in the old saying, “what comes around, goes around”. Which is probably why the above tweet from Asha Rangappa resonated so strongly with me the other day.

It’s Personal, Not Personalized

There’s a difference between “personal” and “personalized”. 

In an age where Marketers are working to find ways to make their messages more customized, more tailored, more specific to who we are, there’s still a marked difference between the two. Just because that email is addressed to you, or there’s a special offer made on your birthday, doesn’t actually make it personal. It’s simply programmed to appear that way.  

You Won't Change The World By Cutting Costs

Strategy is an interesting topic.

You and I can be working in similar areas of management. We can have gone through the same set of experiences in our time at our organization. We can even have a similar view of what defines success in our chosen markets. Yet we can have markedly different perspectives as to what approach it will take to get there. And that’s perfectly normal - in fact, it’s almost always a good thing.

There's Always Room For Value (Part 1 - Markets and Customers)

All too often, when we’re evaluating a new product or service idea, we get caught up in the notion of '“competitive dominance”. That there can only be one competitor who owns that space and, hence, competing in that market is a non-starter. Or, alternately, that there are so many players that that market has become commoditized. Either way, there’s no point playing in that space because the opportunity (for us) is gone.

Own The Message

Back in my early consulting days, I was asked to give a presentation to a prospective client and was handed a deck to present. My instructions were to go through the material, get comfortable with the content and then do a run-through with the partner with whom I’d be doing the pitch.

The content was right in my sweet spot, so I was pretty comfortable with the key messages that we needed to get across. But some of the material in the deck didn’t sit well with me.

If You Have To Brag About How Busy You Are...

I’m so busy. I’ve got a ton going on. I don’t have the time. We hear (and say) these phrases regularly, and to little surprise, given all that we might have on our plate at any given time.

In most ways, of course, it’s good to be busy. To experience the buzz you get when things at work are humming along, when you’re in full flow and driving towards whatever goals you’re working towards.

The flip side, though, is when we feel as if we have to be this way all the time - and worse, to show it, and constantly say it.

Living On Your Own Terms

When I got into consulting in the mid-nineties, I did so with the expectation that I was going into a field that was focused on driving change. That we were there to make a difference, and to improve the lot of our clients. And that doing so required people who were committed to that process, both within the firm I worked for and at the client. Generally speaking, that expectation proved to be the reality.

"It’s Like A Pizza..."

Many years ago, I worked with a senior consulting partner who liked to talk in puzzles. Instead of giving us specific marching orders, he’d talk around the issues and then ask us to put together a deck for his review.

For example, as we’d talk through a proposal we were working on, he’d talk about the client situation, the range of issues they were facing as well…

The Thing About Politics...

…Is that there really isn’t any such thing.

In popularity contests of any significance (where a sizable population is asked for its endorsement of an individual or a subject or an action), the landslide win is not a common occurrence. More prevalent (in my admittedly unscientific assessment) is the close race, where the margin of victory is in single digit percentage points.

The Thing About Mandates...

…Is that there really isn’t any such thing.

In popularity contests of any significance (where a sizable population is asked for its endorsement of an individual or a subject or an action), the landslide win is not a common occurrence. More prevalent (in my admittedly unscientific assessment) is the close race, where the margin of victory is in single digit percentage points.

No One Likes Surprises

When it comes to the work we do, no one likes surprises.

It doesn’t matter which part of the organization you sit in - client management, operations, marketing or elsewhere - one of the fundamental tenets of corporate performance is predictability. We want to know what’s happening, why and, if necessary, what we need to do about it.

The Problem With Getting An Education

We have this obsession, usually rightly so, with organized, accredited education. In an era when economic disparity and the income gap is at its widest, getting a “proper education” isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.  

Which is something most of us agree on, plus the fact that a proper education is defined as not simply completing high school, but obtaining a college degree, at minimum. I think I’m on pretty safe ground when I say that.

"Turn Them Off and See Who Complains..."

How many newsletters do you get in your inbox every day? How many emails do you get with an update on some issue or department or project? How many notifications do you get on your phone with the latest piece of “must-have” information?

Now, how many of them do you actually read?

The Myth of The Top Ten List

There are at least 15 colleges that deserve a place in the top 10 best colleges in the country. There are 20 restaurants that can credibly argue that they are one of the 5 best restaurants in your city. And if you and I were so inclined, we could absolutely name 25 guitarists who could reasonably stake a claim to being among the 10 best guitarists ever.

The Point Is Productive Struggle

We crave clear cut answers. We love How-To’s. We keep looking for the ultimate 10 Step Process.

Why? Because we’re always on the hunt for clarity, predictability and, more to the point, security. It’s a natural human desire.

The problem, though, is that when we’re creating (a team, a piece of output, a business), that’s not often possible or realistic.

The Path To Success Isn't a Straight Line

We tend to romanticize the path to success. We maintain this perception that getting there was a straight-forward path. Particularly when we see others achieve it. This view that these folks took step 1, then step 2, and so on and so forth, until they achieved what they set out to do. That it was a clean path. That things just happened for them.

The truth is…