The government of Barbados is under tremendous pressure to make significant, sustainable changes in the country’s economic fortunes and to reform practices that obviously don’t work as they should. The object being, a country has global respect for its excellence and quality of life. Typically, this is the time when the “experts” are brought in to: analyze, strategize, do studies, write reports, advise, make plans and establish terms of reference.
Since I am a practicing Certified Management Consultant (CMC), I must declare that I have a vested interest and a biased view of how this process should unfold. I have been involved in consulting activities around the world, for more than 50 years and have been based in Barbados since 1993.
The International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) estimates that in developed, mature markets, 1 person per 1000 population is a “consultant”. In developing countries and “immature markets”, the ratio is estimated to be 1 in every 2000. So, in Barbados, there are many people offering “consulting” services. Because of my extensive involvement in the industry and the profession, I know that many of these person are simply calling themselves “consultants” while looking for a job. It sounds nicer than “unemployed”. Others are experts or specialist in a technical area that’s in demand. That can range from IT to medicine, to the “financial advisors”; that populate the landscape.
I am not making these observations to disparage anyone. I happen to know that it is not uncommon for politicians and some corporate executives to circumvent hiring restrictions and provide income for friends and family members. The record will also show that some of these funds have found their way into the pockets of those authorizing the contracts. Today, I spoke with a person who had first-hand experience of a “consultant” being brought into a government department on a six-month contract that was extended to eighteen months. The contract ended because it was clear that no effective work was done and the problem had gotten increasingly worse.
The scandals that have been attributed to nefarious management consulting practices have made headlines all over the world. We have notorious ones right here in this region. In the wake, legislation has been enacted to appease the victims and give the appearance of minimizing risk. The influence of management consultant is so pervasive that we are often unaware that it touches us unless something goes wrong.
I am raising this now because this is clearly a time when management consulting services are needed. Not the “do a study and write a report” type but one that requires committed professionals who are experienced at “walking” the client through the changes. Management consulting is a trillion dollar a year industry. Consulting services represent a substantial foreign exchange drain on our economies because 92.5% of fees are paid to non-regional consultants.
There are now ISO standards that define best practice, essential processes and necessary competencies for management consultancy. In Barbados and the Caribbean, there are growing number of management consultants who have obtained certification to these globally-recognized standards and practices. It would be shameful waste to allow cronyism and secrecy to thwart this opportunity to adopt a more effective, transparent approach to improvement. It is also an opportunity to create a vibrant service export that can earn foreign exchange.
Recently, I completed a psychometric assessment to review the current state of my talent and motivation in areas vital to business success. These areas are: Thought, Influence, Adaptability and Delivery. The last time I was assessed on the same instrument three years ago, my responses and scores were significantly different. As I discussed these differences during a feedback session, it became apparent that my perspective was heavily shaped by the circumstances of my life and my practice at the time of assessment. Continue reading
Next week in Trinidad, the Caribbean Export 5th Annual Management Consulting Business Symposium will convene. The Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC) will have members from around the region in attendance. This event represents an important milestone in the process of transforming the region’s economic development model to embrace the realities of global trade in services.
According to the agenda: “Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) continues to identify the professional services – in particular the management consulting industry – as a priority niche sector for support interventions.”
This recognition of management consulting as a “priority industry” represents a breakthrough that if utilized, can be valuable in addressing the economic woes of the region. In May 2007, the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) made a presentation to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, titled: “Improving outcomes from Development Funding by using Indigenous Management Consultants”.
Key points were:
- Using competent indigenous management consultants would improve the efficacy, effectiveness and efficiency of development funded projects, and through these and related involvements increase the capability and capacity the economy of the developing country.
- ICMCI’s core competence is in establishing and running national professional bodies for management consultants, and it is the NGO Mission of ICMCI to build national Institutes of Management Consultancy in Developing countries. This mission is in direct support of indigenous management consultants.
- Management consultancy is a process that occurs with the client. The consultants need underlying skill but must be competent in the use of the process and to have demonstrated to a client’s satisfaction, that the proper behavior and due process is regularly employed. Only then can the management consultant claim to be competent.
CICMC was established in January 2007 and by November of the same year, managed to obtain Provisional Membership in ICMCI. This required a waiver of the rule specifying that only single countries could become members. It was important to establish a regional body because studies (also published in 2007) conducted by Caribbean Export and the Commonwealth Commission concluded that management consulting in the region was too fragmented too generate to worthwhile foreign exchange.
In truth, there was no vehicle to promote collaboration among regional management consultants. Further, the public, service providers and procurers had no recognized criteria for assessing management consulting competence. The follow-on is that it was also impossible to recognize the value and importance to the development of our region.
As the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARICOM and the European Union came in effect, 93% of every dollar spent on consulting services in the region, left the region in the pockets of non-regional consultants.
If you want to get an idea of the enormity of this statistic, consider the fact that management consulting industry earns a trillion dollars per year. Aside from the benefits that can flow from having “indigenous” management consultants increase the value of regional development projects, it is then possible to generate valuable foreign exchange through the export of these services to the rest of the world.
In 2010, CICMC became a Full Member of ICMCI and the only organization in the Caribbean authorized to certify management consultants with CMC (Certified Management Consultant) designation that is recognized in 50 ICMCI countries. I wish to congratulate CICMC and Caribbean Export for their persistent efforts toward developing this hidden treasure.