Report back from the 2002 Annual Congress of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI).
The IMCSA executive director has recently returned from the ICMCI meeting held in San Francisco. A number of interesting trends and issues were discussed and strategic initiatives reviewed and prioritised.
In a profession that is not governed by statute, voluntary association is considered imperative to govern the standards of the profession. There are fundamental differences between associations and institutes that are formed because the law requires them to; and those that are of a voluntary nature. Voluntary institutes are constantly examining their value proposition and looking for new ways to enhance their service to their stakeholders.
A prioritising exercise using the rather radical “open space technology” produced some interesting and some expected priorities.
Once again, Certification of Management Consultants in line with a common worldwide standard was at the top of the list. Included in this initiative are the common body of knowledge (CBK) that is in the process of being updated, assessment standards and processes, linkages with educational institutions, and the accreditation of large practices. Accreditation of large practices refers to the activity of assessing, recognising and quality assuring Management Consulting Practices (both internally focused and externally focused) with respect to their recruitment, training and proposal for certification of their staff. An accredited practice may not certify a consultant but will have full authority to assess and propose individuals for certification.
Knowledge transfer between member institutes, of which there are now 36 (up from last year) is seen to be key to the ongoing survival of smaller institutes and the renewal of the more established ones.
Marketing to the combined stakeholders is gaining impetus and is seen to be the third most important activity. Multi level linkages with the large practices are now gaining impetus in areas other than accreditation. In South Africa, as in many other countries, the Institute plays an important role as the “Voice of the profession”. In order to do so effectively, it needs to represent a fair spread of the profession. In San Francisco, it was recognized that more effort needs to be put into encouraging a more active participation by the large firms. In South Africa the IMCSA has initiated dialogue with certain parastatals and the Auditor General, to provide an additional linkage for the profession. The IMCSA would also wish to engage more SMMEs in the activities of the profession and is planning educational programmes for 2003.
The subject of discredited advisors and professionals was top of mind and was mentioned by most delegates to the congress. A renewed drive by professionals to be certified in their own right is stemming from these high profile events. Management Consultants are no longer satisfied being associated with a practice’s reputation, given that a practice may cease to exist as a result of moral, ethical or financial dilemmas. As the Institutes worldwide are certifying individuals in their personal capacity, this is currently proving to be very attractive and will continue to be so for some time to come.
This led to a focus on Ethics and Ethical Behaviour being identified as a key thrust for the next two-year period. New marketing and educational material on the subject will be produced in the near future, in order to assist all stakeholders in addressing this all-important subject. It is clearly understood that one cannot be taught to be ethical, but the focus is on the solution of ethical dilemmas and the distinction between legal and ethical behaviour. The IMCSA is going to make this a priority for 2003.
The disciplinary code of conduct was discussed at length and it is clear that member institutes will not hesitate to disbar a member if the need arises and proof is supplied. The institutes, such as the IMCSA, will however appoint members to mediate in disputes with clients where the need arises, as some disputes are seen to be more emotional than severe and could result from miscommunication.
Communication between the Excom and the trustees and executive directors was consistently rated as an activity that warranted increased attention, in order to ensure that the strategic plan devised in Toronto and refined in San Francisco meets its objectives. e-enabling all feasible activities of the ICMCI and the member institutes is now imperative in order to increase communication effectiveness and frequency.
Linkages with International Bodies such as the UN and donor agencies are well under way. The United Nations has recognised the ICMCI formally and many initiatives are being planned for the next two-year period. This activity has taken seven years to get to this stage.
Finally, it was recognised that all the member institutes and the ICMCI are funded through membership fees and fund raising activities. Much has been achieved and the profession is richer for it. Resourcing and Funding still remain vital to ensure the ingoing success of the IMCSA and ICMCI in their 30th and 10th years of existence respectively. We would encourage all those who wish to serve this noble profession, to step forward and make their contribution for a better future.
If you would like to know more about any of the subjects mentioned in this article, please contact the executive director at the numbers or email address in our regular insert.
Executive Director IMCSA
Chair, International Standards Committee ICMCI