“That this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.” – Psalm 48:14
International Consultants’ Day is now an established date in the diary of events of many management consulting institutes around the world. This year it falls on June 4.
Management consulting is the practice of helping the public, private or NGO sectors to improve their performance. The development of the management consulting profession is therefore paramount for sustainable economic development.
The entities that constitute these sectors are generically characterized by the five business systems – corporate governance, marketing, operations, human resource development and investment finance. If the five traditional functions of management – planning, organizing, staffing, leading and monitoring/controlling are systematically applied to each system of business, then it is reasonable to expect overall performance improvement in these sectors. The collective impact of the management consulting profession on these sectors may then redound to the benefit of the sustainable development of a country.
Business consulting is a popular alternative label for the profession. “Shepherding” has crept into the literature relatively recently especially in the context of mentoring to effect (1) positive mind-set change in the leadership and (2) performance improvement of business systems.
I was trained as a mathematician, statistician, biometrician and operations research scientist. Operations research is an analytical method of problem-solving and decision-making that is useful in the management of organizations.
In operations research, problems are broken down into basic components and then solved in defined steps by mathematical analysis. It is this discipline that ultimately led me to the profession of business consulting and now Shepherding.
I have been practising as a business consultant virtually since 1968, when I completed my formal studies, and officially from 1977, when I started my own firm Systems Caribbean Limited (SCL) as a Caribbean management consulting pioneer, to date. The Mission of SCL was “To be a high quality provider of business development services to the public and private sectors in Barbados and beyond”. The company was morphed into Systems Consulting Limited under new management in 2000, when I retired from the full-time management of a company. My business consulting practice has been and is a very gratifying experience.
The Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC) was formed in 1998. I was honoured to be a founding Director and am still associated with the Barbados Chapter. CICMC became a provisional member of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) in October 2007. The CICMC was granted full membership in June 2010 and was in fact the first “regional institute” with all prior members representing individual nations. The CICMC strives “to be a professional organization that aggressively mobilizes its members and enhances their ability to serve clients according to global standards of excellence and ethics.”
CICMC is the certifying body and professional association for management consultants and firms in the CARIFORUM region. The organization promotes excellence and ethics in management consulting through certification, education, and professional networks.
CICMC activities are aimed at helping members to improve their skills to deliver quality projects at all times. Benefits include professional development, a public presence in business and management issues, skills development and business networking through its Chapters. A growing cadre of conscientious CICMC members is therefore an asset to the region.
Last week’s column was entitled “Management Crisis”. There are a couple excerpts which we need to keep on the radar: (1) “a governance concern throughout the Caribbean is that whichever party is in power the country has a management crisis which, if not thwarted, could spell pending disaster”; and (2) “the issue now is about new leadership, be it technocratic, political, academic or from the private sector; how it might inspire future generations, and above all the delivery of practical results and prosperity that benefits all”.
A third excerpt for radar surveillance is actually from a response to the column from a sitting Minister of Government. In his response, the Minister invited me to expand my views and continued: “…you have only just scratched the surface of a very important topic. The Caribbean region must move with a greater sense of urgency to revisit its governance systems and structures. It must revisit the role of the state in economic and social development vis-a-vis the private sector and civil society.
“I am afraid that we are way too busy seeking to focus on maintaining the status quo whilst complaining about past injustices without a molecule of thought about the future. We need some serious disruptive thinking in this region. Too many politicians are shallow thinkers whose focus is on the next election.”
Then there is the business of West Indies cricket where we make blunder after blunder and disgrace ourselves in the eyes of the world. The latest of these is the treatment of a cricket stalwart, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, as he ends his illustrious 20-year career for the West Indies. He is only exceeded by Brian Lara as the most prolific scorer for the West Indies. He has 30 test centuries and a batting average of 51.1. He is allowed to fade into the sunset without even so much as a courteous farewell. What manners! What governance, notwithstanding the divergent views of some of our cricket legends.
The management consulting profession is the one that can address these issues and help us to improve performance in the public, private or NGO sectors. The CICMC must rise to the occasion as the body responsible for guiding the future of this noble profession.
International Consultants’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate successes in the management consulting profession. May it also be a reminder that if we ignore the importance of this profession we do so at our own peril.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)