Thursday, January 28, 2010


Recently, I read three different WSJ articles that all made me think of the changes in the consulting industry. The first article, The Campus Consultant is about the growing numbers of companies that are using professors from University Executive Education programs instead of hiring consulting firms to assist them in assessing the best path forward for the company. The second article, Interim Managers Take Longer Roles is about the growing numbers of companies that are using interim managers for longer periods of time and for a wider variety of projects and purposes. The third article, SAP Sees Return To Growth covers SAP beginning to see top line growth in both software and consulting services.

Many years ago, the consulting industry learned how to work cooperatively with the major software vendors to serve clients. Although neither party particularly likes to work together, they were forced to do so by the market. Interim managers has, until now, been the province of the restructuring and bankruptcy consulting firms not a service of the large multi- service firms. Strategy work has largely been the property of the boutique strategy firms, although all the large multi-service firms have some offering. The Universities always had professors doing some strategy consulting work but they were not a major competitor to the large firms.

The large firms have learned to team and partner with the software firms, as noted earlier. The future will require them to significantly expand their teaming abilities. With the number of retired executives expected to grow dramatically over the next few years, there will be countless numbers of qualified semi-retired executives that companies can hire on a project basis. The multi-service consulting firms would be smart to begin now to expand the types of services they offer through teaming arrangements rather than only by their full time staff. The should have a stable of semi-retired executives available and a relationship with a University through its executive education programs.

What about your industry? What changes do you need to consider?
Until Next Time,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Happy New Year!! Similar to Mike, I am ready to blog again. Hope you are all ready to read and comment.

Last week, I went out to dinner and to see a play with a group of 25 business women. We had a great time and I made several good contacts. This evening of fun came about as a plan one night while I was out to dinner. Anita, Cindy and I were having dinner to discuss some Shelter Our Sisters business. Anita began to recommend a play to us that she had recently seen. Cindy made the comment that it would be a fun girls night out to go see the play. We each began to ask friends if they were interested and the next thing we knew it had grown to 25 women. Thank goodness Anita was willing to do all the coordination. Since every woman was invited, there was a level of trust that does not exist when you attend a formal "networking" event. I made three very good contacts that I believe can help me in my business and two contacts that I believe I can help in their business. That is a very successful night especially when you consider I was only there to have fun and see a great show. By the way, dinner and the show were great.

For those of you that have been following the blog for some time, you know that I am a recent convert to the idea that women should network to create the "old girls club". I am not suggesting that women should exclude men from their networks or in anyway be unfair or biased. However, I have recently come to realize that women should add networking with other women to their other connections. However, I have been struggling with how to do this in a way that works for me. Personally, I find formal networking organizations too forced and artificial for my taste. The other night, I found what works for me. Small, personal, social events that assist in connecting some of the women in each of three women's networks to one another. It was great!

While I am writing about women networks, this can be applied to any group. So get a friend or two and plan a social evening doing something you enjoy. Then each of you invites a few of your friends and the group grows. The night of the event, just let everyone meet one another! Simple but effective.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Pretty good comments to ponder in this Forbes Article. A former CEO, A.G.Lafley of Proctor & Gamble, speaks briefly about how to listen to your various stakeholders. He lays out six steps.

1. Pay attention
2. Suspend judgment
3. Reflect
4. Clarify
5. Summarize
6. Share

I have a little piece on #5 in our book. It is on page 133 and entitled, "Let Me Repeat it Back to You". This is a tool that I have used for many years. I used it with co-workers, clients, company personnel all the way up to the CEO/owner level.

I would simply listen to what someone was saying and then I would say, "Let me repeat it back to you to make sure that I understand what you said." It is a surefire way to ensure that I understand what is said and to make the other person know that I was listening.

When I raise this at our MBA sessions, this gets more flack than anything else Gail and I say. People have said that it sounds condescending or trite or just plain ridiculous. I am always surprised at that reaction because I have used this tool thousands of times without any negative feedback, other than my son rolling his eyes wondering how he got into this conversation in the first place.

It is all about where you come from when you speak. If you are genuinely trying to close the loop and make sure you understand, people will get that. On the other hand, if you are being condescending, they will get that.

Every once in a while, I ran into potentially confrontational people who would say something like, "don't you understand what I just said?" I would reply, "I think I understand but I would like to confirm my understanding. You don't want me to go down the wrong road and waste time do you?"

I think from the feedback, some people are reluctant to incur the ire of the less enlightened boss and take the chance that they know exactly what their boss wants. Here is the problem though, the same person you are reluctant to repeat it back to is the same person that has done a poor job explaining what they want you to do. They go hand in hand.

Repeat it back or take the consequences of 'doing what they asked for but not what they wanted.'

Cheers, Mike

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Recently someone asked me, what happened to the blog? I gave some lame explanation like, 'you can't believe how much time doing nothing takes'.

But this morning, I was looking at a golf blog, to revisit pictures about a golf course in Colorado. The author recently wrote a book about a golf addict (himself and two friends) for other golf addicts. As I was looking through his blog there was a list of blogs he follows. It was a short list as these lists go.

But much to my shock, there was "Excuse Me Leaders" in the list. I thought hmmm, how did he find out about this blog that Gail and I have kept so well hidden?

So, I figure since I really am doing nothing that I should write a few more posts and see if anyone cares. You are hereby forewarned that I will start writing on a "as the spirit moves me basis". So use this time to delete the blog from Google Reader or whatever while there is still time.

Cheers, Mike