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Consultants Highlight Three Priorities Prior to Year-nd

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® has asked its global members to recommend techniques and best practices to be sure to implement before the end of 2011. "The feedback was passionate," says SAC® CEO Alan Weiss, PhD. "Here is a cross-section from some of our most successful consultants intended for their clients."

"If 2012 is approaching faster than you ever thought possible, now is a good time to look around and see if your train is still flying along, stalled on the tracks, or shunted off to a siding," says Ann Latham, president of Uncommon Clarity, Inc., a Massachusetts consulting firm ( She recommends you ask yourself three questions:

  1. Are we adapting to changes around us, especially changes in our customers' wants and needs?

  2. Are we becoming something new, smarter, and more capable than we were at the beginning of the year?

  3. Are we continuing to eliminate the activities that contribute least to our profits and the value for which customers are willing to pay?

"If you answered any of these questions with no, not sure, or luckily," explains Latham, "now would be a good time to embark on a stronger, more intentional approach to better results in 2012!"

Alan Fortier, a leading strategy and pricing consultant to manufacturing businesses ( suggests these 3 often overlooked areas for action by year end:

  1. Celebrate your 2011 successes with employees

  2. Give needed feedback to help make your people more effective

  3. As part of your emerging 2012 plan, make sure you've highlighted the things to stop doing

"Don't wait until spring or an office move to purge your business of detritus; do it before the year closes," suggests marketing consultant Roberta Guise, founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR ( and adviser to small business owners and women thought leaders . "As you purge, look for these three key things:

  1. Clients and colleagues with whom you've lost contact — set aside the names for a reach-out campaign

  2. Hang on to a couple of samples from your retired brands or promotion campaigns — keep as a record, or you may even want to display them

  3. Be on the look out for "treasures" — I just found photos of my mentor (who recently passed away) taken on the set of a big video shoot of mine more than 20 years ago; after copying them, I'll frame and send as a surprise gift to his family. So purging needn't be all about clean up and drudgery," Guise tells us. "Let it be a process of discovery, delight and forward thinking, too."

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a San Francisco Bay Area consulting psychologist and executive coach and member of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He is the president of Working Resources, a boutique strategic talent management consulting firm.

He offers a few insights:

"Leading people and organizations is fundamentally more complicated than it was 20 years ago—and it's not getting any easier. Economic and global uncertainties, along with innovative technologies, complicate efforts to run a business. Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. A leader must be able to keep the big picture in clear view, while attending to all of the small executions that will lead to the right outcomes."

Dr. Brusman recommends the following brief checklist for leaders.

  1. Articulate a Vision: Formulate a clear and persuasive vision, and communicate regularly why it's important to all members of the enterprise.

  2. Think and Act Strategically: Make a practical plan for achieving this vision, including both short- and long-term strategies. Anticipate reactions and resistance before they happen by considering all stakeholders' perspectives.

  3. Build Leadership in Others, and Plan for Succession: Develop leadership throughout the organization, giving people opportunities to make decisions, manage others and obtain coaching. Ensure your company's culture fosters the effective exercise of leadership.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the CEO of Human Resource Solutions (, a leadership consulting firm based in Northampton, Massachusetts and the author of Suddenly in Charge, a Washington Post top 5 book for leaders offers the following suggestions:

  1. Examine your current strategy to ensure it still makes sense. Update as necessary and meet with key stakeholders to ensure the people responsible for implementing the strategy are all onboard.

  2. Assess your staff and make adjustments where necessary. Vow to rid your business of any dead weight that's preventing your company from reaching it's full potential.

  3. Measure employee engagement levels and take immediate action in problem areas where employees are less than fully engaged.

Voss Graham, CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc ( in Memphis, TN believes Executives should review the following three questions annually.

  1. Review all your revenue channels and profit centers. Are they working now? There is a good chance you have winners and losers in your mix of offerings. Allocate more resources to the winners for best results.

  2. Review your processes and working models to learn what is working – well – and what needs some adjustment or changes. Change is a good thing when linked to your strategic objectives.

  3. Review and evaluate your current Talent. Be objective on whether you have A, B or C talent levels on your team. What talent you keep on your team is becoming much more important to success.

"Any successful business today generates an abundance of intellectual property," says Erik Pelton, founder of Erik M. Pelton & Associates (, a boutique trademark law firm. "Yet many businesses fail to protect the full spectrum of their intellectual property assets." Pelton notes that three simple steps at the end of the year can help capture missing intellectual property protection:

  1. take 30 minutes to review all brands and content generated in the past 12 months, including social media pages, blogs, and newsletters;

  2. chose the three most valuable assets that are not yet registered trademarks or copyrights and contact an attorney help protect them; and
  3. ensure that proper trademark and copyright symbols are being used.
  4. Gary W. Patterson, the FiscalDoctor® and author of the forthcoming 2012 book Your Million Dollar Blind Spots© suggests creating flexibility in an ongoing turbulent world. Caution can be as simple as creating a contingency plan with these three basic steps:

    Step 1: Identify the known or probable risks – whether they are big or small – your company is currently facing.

    Step 2: Develop an action plan that addresses the risks identified in Step 1.

    Step 3: Make sure your executive team knows how to implement the action plan if necessary.

"As a global business consultant and former VP of Operations of a mid-market manufacturer, I've found that one of the keys to success is to jump on opportunities while the competition rests, and so leveraging the 4th quarter while the everyone else is on holiday will accelerate business results," points out Lisa Anderson of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. in Claremont, CA. ( "A few strategies to leverage this opportunity include:

  1. Reach out to your employees, customers and key suppliers and ensure they know they are valued.

  2. Ask all of your employees for 3 ideas to improve performance, and implement at least the top 3.

  3. Think about year-end tax strategy."
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