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What Business Should Expect in Next Six Months

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC®) had asked its global membership to comment on what business should expect in the next six months of 2010. SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD states, "Here is a quick synopsis representing members' views. Note the important distinction of being optimistic versus being certain."

"One thing is certain; those who are waiting for a resurgence of certainty are waiting for Godot," says Ann Latham, president of Uncommon Clarity, Inc., ( a Massachusetts consulting firm that helps clients get better results faster. "Certainty has never existed and change is the rule now more than ever. Companies that get clear about the assumptions underlying their strategic choices are going to make better decisions and feel more confident." She finds that those who monitor the validity of those assumptions will also be more able to adjust to change quickly.

Lisa Anderson, a senior operations and supply chain executive and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. said, "It is critical for businesses to stay focused the next six months in order to leverage the recovery potential while building flexibility into the organization to succeed, regardless of what’s around the bend for 2011. As I described in my Industry Week article on thriving in the "new normal", there are three keys to success:

  1. Cash is king.
  2. Service is paramount.
  3. Execution is everything."

Roberta Guise, a small business marketing consultant and founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR, says that businesses must innovate in order to get ahead.

"This applies as much to consultants operating solo as it does to the largest corporations," she says. "For example, they can come up with new services for existing clients based on intimate knowledge of what clients’ expected needs will be. Asking clients a few relevant questions may yield rich answers about needs. Or, they can add a new internal system to their own business that speeds up a process. She adds, "There are two key points to remember: there’s a new normal, and this normal is a moving target."

Gary W. Patterson, the FiscalDoctor® and enterprise risk management expert and speaker in Boston, MA, suggests that the "elephant trust issue" has arrived in the room, courtesy of Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and Greece. "What impact would your company have if it reviewed its off balance sheet financing arrangements to see if it is more appropriate in the new world to record those financings on your balance sheet, and to disclose in more detail contractual obligations and contingent liabilities?" he asks.

"Also what expenses, such as allowance for doubtful accounts or product returns, warranty reserves or deferred maintenance, are your companies understating or ignoring in their business? Where are you misleading your own decision making by managing your financials too close to the gray areas?"

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a talent management consulting and leadership coaching firm in San Francisco, California. He offers a few insights:

"Financial reform will be a reality. Job growth will continue and companies will hire based on current and future competencies, motivation, personality and culture fit. The social networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will become even more important tools in helping businesses attract top talent.

"Employee engagement has been at an historic low level. Company leaders will need to tap into workers’ inherent motivation and creative drive to boost the number of actively engaged employees from the paltry 33 percent reported by the Gallup Organization.

"People will want work that taps into their intrinsic motivation seeking mastery, autonomy and self-direction. Employees will want their work to be meaningful and with purpose in order to be happy and fully engaged. Enlightened companies will create work cultures that ignite innovation."

"It's going to be continually turbulent," summarizes Weiss, "but we think it will be a turbulent, continuing recovery, and those are our global indications."

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