A Message from the President and Board Chair
Something to Consider
How can we continually improve the way we practise our craft of management consulting?
Keeping abreast of the changing paradigms in management consulting and our functional specialisation is critical. The ICMCI CMC Competence Framework identifies the business components: the technical, values, and behavioural competencies required to be at the top of the (your) profession. A breadth of skills and experience and a commitment to continued learning and development frame and support these competencies.
An interesting article written by Shane Parrish landed in my email a couple of weeks ago (1). He talked about “reasoning from first principles” - breaking down complicated problems into essential elements and reassembling them.
He goes on to say:
“If we never learn to take something apart, test assumptions, and reconstruct it, we end up trapped in what other people tell us – trapped in the way things have always been done. When the environment changes, we just continue if things were the same. …We can see the world as it is and see what is possible.”
He quotes the prodigious entrepreneur Elon Musk:
“I think people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experience. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis” (2).
How can we use this different thinking approach for client situations? Shane says to move “away from incremental improvement into possibility”. Analogies are helpful in that they “make complex problems easier to communicate and increase understanding”. However, a downside is that “They limit our beliefs about what’s possible … . Analogies move us to see the problem in the same way that someone else sees the problem.”
Using first principles thinking is best when:
- “doing something for the first time”
- “dealing with complexity”
- “trying to understand a situation that you’re having problems with”
Could adopting the first principles thinking approach assist better management consulting practice?
(1) First Principles: The Building Blocks of True Knowledge - Farnam Street (fs.blog)
(2) Elon Musk, quoted by Tim Urban in “The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce,” Wait But Why
From the IMC Boardroom
In November 2021, Steve Turner retired as President of the IMC and Director of the Board, having established the IMC with a solid foundation in strategy and governance. Steve’s leadership style, belief in the mission of the IMC and the support of Board members in stewarding their portfolios were appreciated by the Board and IMC members. Steve continues to operate his successful management consulting business. He serves the IMC through the Queensland Chapter and as a Director of and the IMC Board’s representative on the Australian Council of Professions.
The Board is focused on two strategic priorities – membership growth and revenue sustainability.
In membership growth, we initiated a program to recruit recent graduates seeking to enter consulting and business advisory positions. Under Nick Marvin, the WA Chapter is leading this initiative for graduates of undergraduate or postgraduate courses to take up membership as graduate Associate members of the IMC. A Graduate Young Professionals program has been established to provide targeted professional development during the first two years of their Associate membership. Once the program is firmly established, it will become available in each of the other chapters.
Another significant membership initiative is to grow our membership base in Canberra, where there is a considerable presence of management consultants supporting national government and corporate organisations. Strong connections are being established and developed through existing networks, supported by a recent appointment to fill a Board vacancy (see below). We think that a strong membership base in the ACT allows the IMC to more effectively promote on a national stage our role in improving excellence and integrity in the management consulting profession and in creating value for organisations who need us.
Diversifying our revenue base is critical to improving sustainability. We have established partnerships with Marsh for insurance and Deltek for technology solutions. We are seeking to attract other partners, sponsors and advertisers who are aligned with the mission and values of the IMC. Our training and certification programs, outlined in this edition of Australian Consultant, offer cost-effective continuing professional development opportunities that generate revenue to reinvest in providing services to members. (Note: Small businesses that spend on new technologies and training courses to upskill staff will be able to claim 120% of the costs as deductions as part of the Federal budget measures.)
The Appointment of Jenifer Frederick to the Board
It was a great pleasure to appoint Jenifer Frederick as a Director to the Board of the IMC in March, the first woman-in-consulting to be appointed to the current Board. Jenifer has considerable consulting experience in the ACT, where she developed and sold a very successful consulting business to the firm for which she now works. Jenifer brings critical financial skills and considerable experience in designing learning and development programs and promoting professional standards to the board and the IMC. Jenifer will also play a vital role in the team that is developing our membership base in the ACT. We welcome Jenifer to the Board and look forward to her contribution to the strategy and governance of the IMC.
Dianne Semmens and Samantha Rush have been elected as Chapter Presidents
I also wish to recognise the recent election of Dianne Semmens and Samantha Rush as Chapter Presidents of Victoria and Queensland, respectively. They are both highly respected consultants in their fields. We hope that their leadership will help us diversify and redress the imbalance of women-in-consulting, both in the profession and in the membership of the IMC. We congratulate them on their appointment and wish them success as they seek to grow their Chapters' membership and professional development opportunities.
Two keystone events are being held by the IMC this year. The first of these is the Asia-Pacific Hub meeting that IMC Australia will host for the first time. This half-day meeting provides the opportunity for IMC Australia to highlight some critical environmental issues affecting client organisations that are being experienced throughout our region. Three presenters with international perspectives will present to members of national institutes in at least 6 countries of ICMCI Asia-Pacific on topics including the circular economy, sustainability, resource efficiency and renewable energy; all issues that clients’ organisations are grappling with and seeking management consulting input on to assist the adjustment process. Further details about this exciting event are to come.
The second premier event is our 2022 National Conference which returns as a face-to-face event and is being hosted in Canberra to celebrate our ACT initiative. The theme is “Keeping Ahead of the Curve”. In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, the conference deals with the key trends, challenges and risks management consultants need to deal with to provide targeted management consulting services to their clients. Management consultants, technical experts and leaders of government and corporations will address the key client-focused practices that can deliver real value and growth for consultants and their clients. A vital feature of the conference program will be an expert panel discussion about the changing landscape in purchasing consulting services by international, federal and state governments to improve value for money. More details are covered in this edition of Australian Consultant.
ICMCI Triennial Assessment and CMC Re-certification
Every three years, our international body undertakes a quality assurance check to ensure that IMC Australia, as with every other national institute, is conducting itself with professionalism and good governance and is fit to continue assessing and awarding management consultants the Certified Management Consultant mark. As I write this column, Steve Ibbotson, our PD Chair, and Christine Cox, our Executive Officer and Chief Assessor, are cooperating with the ICMCI appointed review team and demonstrating the effectiveness of our processes for awarding CMC status. Progress to date indicates that IMC Australia is meeting the international standard.
As has been notified, existing CMCs awarded their certification more than three years ago are required by ICMCI regulations to be re-certified. We have sought and obtained approval for a “light touch” re-certification process. This has been tested with a sample of CMCs, of which I was one, and I am delighted to say that the process is not onerous. Still, it is comforting to know that continuing professional development and professional, ethical behaviour are being maintained to the CMC standards. I invite all CMCs who are required to be re-certified to do so at their earliest opportunity.
I wish you all a successful conclusion to the 2021/22 financial year and a 2022/23 year filled with the promise of success as we deal with the challenges resulting from the global pandemic and the continuing transition of our economy to renewable energy resources.
Peter Westlund MIMC CMC
National President & Board Chair
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