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Business Predictions for 2006 From International Consulting Association

Sunday, January 1, 2006

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting has canvassed its global membership and developed a consensus on these business predictions for 2006:

Company growth: The current strength in the economy is resulting in capacity constraints in many companies. Many are reporting operations at 90% or higher capacity, and expect the level to continue as we rebuild after the hurricanes of 2005 and the war expenditures continue at a high level. Joe Rodriguez, President and General Partner of Global Innovation Leadership, Inc. in Miami, adds, "We need to recognize these trends to successfully run our businesses in 2006 and beyond. We are in a very tough global business climate. We need to improve continuously just to keep up."

Business Etiquette: "In today's competitive business environment manners can make the difference between getting ahead and being left behind. Self-confidence, poise in business and the social graces are as important as job skills." -Gloria Starr*, President, Global Success Strategies, Inc., Charlotte, NC.

Pierre Woodfolk of Asia Source Consulting says that for Western companies to not go the way of the "Model T" they should look to the East, to establish strategic export partnerships, and to gain regional market penetration. He further states that Malaysia, China and Taiwan are a few places that will continue to aggressively entice Bio-tech, IT and telecommunication companies to their shores with a wide array of incentives and a highly skilled workforce. -Pierre Woodfolk, President, The "Value Consigliore," Asia Source Consulting, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

Supply tightness in oil and materials will hold prices high. Likewise, budget policies vs. structural spending programs will lead to tax creep, especially at the state levels where they can't run deficits. True costs for the average Joe will therefore rise faster than the published inflation rate, especially for health care, energy and education. Plus, while technology made things better, it also made them more expensive - IPod vs. CD vs. radio, everyone in the family now needs a cell phone. Result: less savings, more debt, more stress. -Alan Fortier*, President, Fortier & Assoc., Fort Lee, NJ.

As bloggers become increasingly activist in nature, their messages will move from merely monitoring certain corporate activity, to promoting grassroots lobbying against corporate interests and directors. The credibility afforded to them by the mainstream media only adds to their influence. Corporations must proactively inoculate and organize their employees, retirees and shareholders to join the influence war. is the logical extension of a successful blog, and it is the most organized, sophisticated campaign ever initiated against a corporation. -Amy Showalter, President, The Showalter Group, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio

Differences in verbal language, body language, and social etiquette often make it difficult for American executives to communicate and sell effectively, manage cross-cultural teams, and avoid embarrassing themselves at critical business meetings. (For example, did you know that Americans prefer a firm grip handshake, while many Asians prefer a gentle grip?) In 2006, as American and international companies continue to form new business alliances, we can expect many US companies to invest in formal cross-cultural communication and etiquette training that prepares executives, senior managers, and other key staff to make a powerful first impression overseas. -Liz de Clifford, de Clifford International, Ltd., Los Altos, CA.

Law firms will see an increase in gross revenues, with several large firms joining the $1 billion "club" for the first time. While sole practitioners and small firm lawyers continue to face economic pressures, profits for the legal community in general will rise again in 2006. -Ed Poll*, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, Venice, CA.

2006 will provide the greatest opportunities ever for forward thinking entrepreneurs. New business styles and techniques will be tried and some will fail, but the past is being left behind and successful business owners need to hop on board. -Dr. Gayle Carson CSP CMC, Carson Research Center, Miami, FL.

The private equity sector firms are looking for an exceptional 2006, according to our clients and prospects.
-Gary Patterson, The Fiscal Doctor, President, Interim CEO Plus, Wellesley, MA.

We will see mergers between the largest of companies, especially in areas of telecommunications and technology. While this will have a positive impact for the consumer in terms of price and possibly service, it will also result in a greater number of displaced employees. These workers may have to compromise in the areas of pay and benefits. However, with the skilled and unskilled labor shortage, the employment picture is rosy. -Lynda Ford, SPHR, President, The Ford Group, Rome, NY.

The outlook from the small-business owner perspective is positive for 2006. The overwhelming majority of over 100 business owners I spoke with over the last four months say their industry's and company's near-term future is very positive. -John Martinkao, President, Business Resource Group, Inc., Kirkland, WA.

More business leaders will hire executive/leadership coaches focusing on improving their emotional intelligence. Strategic talent management, selecting, assessing, and retaining top talent who are a great fit with the company's culture, will be essential for success. -Dr. Maynard Brusman*, Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach, San Francisco, CA.

The most successful organizations will invest in change initiatives that strategically align human capital (their most valuable resource) and learning initiatives with performance and job impact data and ultimately business goals and objectives. This task will be a multiple year project and will serve to vet the appropriate and inappropriate learning activities. The result will be a culture of learning and innovation with improved performance indicators, impact on the job, and the successful attainment of business goals and objectives.
-Nathan Greeno, President, Drawing Board Consulting Group, Centreville, VA.

As the competition heats up for qualified employees, most businesses will struggle to hire first-rate employees. Rather than focusing on increased revenues, many will find themselves spending countless hours convincing mediocre candidates to join their organizations. Smart business leaders, who have taken the time to clearly define their recruitment value proposition, will be well positioned to win the war for talent. -Roberta Chinsky Matuson, Principal, Human Resource Solutions, Northampton, MA.

* These members hold Board Approval status in their specialties from SAC.

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