Are emotions contagious in the workplace?

Yes, they are. Emotions are contagious. Lots of research on this topic and a great TEDx talk here by Brandon Smith showing that, yes, emotions do exist at work and play a much larger role than you might think. I am a huge believer that culture trumps strategy and the importance of leaders in setting the direction and an environment of… Read More »

Invest time in people, experiences, assets, and writing

Grandpa-sounding advice coming your way. Here is a thesis for you to test out.  Do you agree with this statement? There are 4 smart ways to invest time: people, experiences, assets, and writing because all these things get more valuable over time. In the age of immediacy and instant access, your relationships, memories, passive income, and point of view will be unique to… Read More »

World’s worst question: “Are you sure?”

This is my least favorite expression in all of consulting. “Are you sure?” Built into the question is a lack of trust, glibness, superficial concern with accuracy over meaning, and honestly, a bit of disdain. It’s a superficial question. It’s the kind of question that is asked out of (bad) habit and does nothing to really add… Read More »

Sadly, 20 email tips

Surprisingly, many people use email poorly. They write long-winded email essays that are ambiguous, and often copy too many people. These sloppy people create more confusion, frustration and rework. In this case, more communication is actually worse. Email tip: Take 15 seconds to think before you send out emails.  What am I trying to say, am I sending… Read More »

Consulting tip: Watch videos on LEAN

Lean. Toyota Production System. These are words and concepts that any business person should readily know and understand – even if you are not an operations consultant. Process improvement initiatives built on these concepts take out billions of dollars of waste every year – from every industry. A typical LEAN consulting project will easily take out $1-5 million of waste –… Read More »

Leading by example, with data entry?

Yes, this morning I did 4 hours of data entry.  Yes, data entry.  Our project was in a time crunch and we had major issues getting good operational data, so we begrudgingly took some print outs and manually typed them into excel. Yikes.  Yes, we did look at other OCR (optical character recognition) methods like ABBY,… Read More »

Peter Drucker Quotes: “Time”

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker is a a classic.  Written 40+ years ago, and still enormously relevant.  You can find pdf online for free or buy it used at Amazon for $2 (affiliate link).  A steal. Great quotes from Drucker (shown in blue italics) on the subject of time: Time is THE most valuable resource. Effective executives know… Read More »

Review: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016

Deloitte 2016 Global Human Capital Trends was released here (5.6Mb). It is a 124 page manifesto of well-organized thinking on how the workplace is changing, what employees want, and how the old way of thinking about human resource (read: people) just does not work. In real consulting style, the survey is rigorous – interviews and surveys of more… Read More »

BCG: New CEO’s Guide to Transformation

The title of the BCG report sounds serious, but its a bit of a gem – easy to read and understand.  Download here (1Mb pdf). Boils down to three points: Successful CEOs need to plan the transformation before they start work Transformation is expensive, need to fund the journey with cost takeout There are 10 types of transformations; see… Read More »

Consulting tip: How to make a good survey

Consultants should use surveys more often. They are cost-effective, seemingly impartial, easy to use, and provide data in the “touchy and feel-y” areas where data might be hard to find, collect, or quantify. Bain, PWC, BCG, Deloitte all use surveys; see the links at the bottom of the post. Even on this website, readers reply to surveys to… Read More »

What is deliberate practice?

It takes more than 10,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that people have to practice for 10,000+ hours before becoming experts. At the time, this dispelled the idea that it is just raw talent or genius at work. No, he concluded, it takes lots and lots of practice to be excellent at something. When listening to the most recent Freakonomics podcast here entitled How… Read More »

Consultant’s gripe: US education is a mess

Many of my friends have school-age children and they worry about their kid’s education. Sadly, they have a lot of reasons to be worried. For all the recent innovation, changing business models, and dedication of some teachers. . . US public education is a mess.  Every few years, more than 470,000 students in 65 countries… Read More »

Rough consulting week: Embrace the suck

Last week was brutal. Was glad to just make it through the days without disappointing people or making too many mistakes. I had 32 different conference calls, a boat-load of work, a dentist appointment and planning for my mom’s 70th birthday. Apparently, the military uses an expression which was entirely appropriate last week: “Embrace the suck“,… Read More »

Rolling Stones in Cuba: Glasnost

Written 07/08/2016 Looks like 8 airlines were given clearance to fly to Cuba here. Written 03/26/2016 Cuba Glasnost. This is HUGE news for the US, Cuba, and the world. The United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and had a trade embargo for 50+ years. While only symbolic, President Obama’s visit and the concert by the once-banned,… Read More »

“That’s What Google is For”

Over the last two weeks, this scenario has repeated itself a few times.  A junior consultant I am working with hits a simple roadblock and instead of reflecting on the problem and hunting out an answer, they pull the brakes and reply, “I don’t know how to do that.”  Hmm, I held my tongue for 3… Read More »

Review of 39pg McKinsey Presentation

McKinsey & Company do great work. On this blog, I have written about their leader, culture, high-visibility assignments at the CIA, and Department of Corrections. Overall, have enormous respect for the work they do, and the way they have built their practice. By any measure, they are monolithic at what they do.  So, now I would… Read More »

20+ Consulting travel essentials

I travel a lot.  Like most management consultants, I am a road warrior. According to Marriott.com, I have stayed 152 nights last year. Perhaps 10% of that is from my wife who also uses my rewards number, but needless to say, lots of hotel, plane, car. Funny sidebar – a friend was NOT traveling one… Read More »

Category: Fun

Review: McKinsey- Digital America’s Tale of the “Haves” and “Have Mores”

McKinsey published a 120 page report on the digitization of America here (2.6Mb). Some critics might argue the two main arguments are a bit obvious: 1) digitization drives productivity and 2) those gains are shared uneven across industries, companies, and people. It is a story of the digital divide – the “haves” and the “have mores”. On the surface… Read More »

Profile of Success: Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey. This is a famous radio host from the United States who I listen to regularly. He only talks about financial planning and money management – but he can be just a polarizing and crazy as the other “shock-jock” radio personalities. He has been doing 2-3 hour radio shows since 1992, so it is almost 20,000… Read More »

Review: The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

Deloitte surveyed of 7,700 millennials globally here. The respondents were folks born after 1982 with college degrees, working in large organizations (100+) across 29 different countries. You work with millennials everyday – anyone under 33 years. As I have lots of opinions (nice thing about having a blog), see my comments in green. “Remarkable absence of loyalty” This is how… Read More »

McKinsey gets phase 2 on NY jail project for $7M

McKinsey & Company is a premiere management consulting firm with a long legacy of influential alumni, thought-provoking research, top-shelf billing rates, and legions of ivy-league smarties.They get called in to solve difficult problems – everything from corporate mergers to changing the organizational design at the CIA here. So, it is only with a bit of humor and… Read More »

Accounting 101: What is depreciation?

In my mind, depreciation has two meanings – the common sense definition most people know intuitively, and the financial accounting definition which dictates how costs of fixed assets are spread out over many years. Note – if you are CPA, feel free to call me out on things I describe incorrectly. All feedback welcome. 1) Common sense… Read More »

Consultant, what are you doing to get retired?

I look forward to retirement. Who doesn’t? I recently went on a road trip to Key West and Sarasota Florida. Seriously, 80 degrees in December with a breeze? Walking on the beach watching while drinking mojitos? Debating whether to buy scallops or tuna at the fish market for dinner? Choosing between waffles and french toast for breakfast? Here… Read More »

Consulting tip: Listen to Freakonomics Podcast

For those who know me, I am a huge fan of podcasts. Great story-telling and content, delivered for free, wonderful use of your time. If you intellectually curious, travel a lot, and don’t listen to podcasts or audiobooks, uh, I don’t understand you. Made a list of great planet money podcasts here. Freakonomics – created by the same people… Read More »

Category: Fun

Consulting tip: Use Waze

I am a huge fan of Waze. For those who have not used it, it’s a basic map app which tells you the most efficient route to your destination, which factors in traffic and construction. This simple 45 second video will give you a good taste for it here. For those who feel this is similar to Google… Read More »

Category: Fun

Consulting travel: Red eye home

Consulting travel. This image tells a story.  Red eye. Business class. The good with the bad. Welcome to consulting. Strange life.  UBER driver #1. On the ride to the airport, I struck up a conversation with my UBER driver, who works at a local casino. After chit-chat about blackjack strategy, he gave me a deck of cards from the casino where… Read More »

Category: Fun

McKinsey interview: Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is awesome. Too many reasons to mention, but a good thumbnail will be this 9 minute interview with McKinsey here. Yes, is not your typical person – her CV looks like the gold standard – Harvard, Harvard Business, McKinsey, chief of staff to the Treasury secretary, Google, then COO of… Read More »

Consulting tip: Subscribe to Fast Company

I read Fast Company.  It is a iconoclastic magazine which is easy to read, fun, and honestly, pretty cheap at $1 per month per magazine at discount mags. It is their 20th anniversary, this editorial here talks about their predictions for the next 20 years. Lots of to think about. My comments in orange color.… Read More »

Consulting templates: Visualize what you want to say

PowerPoint. Over the last 20 years, there are very few days when I have not worked in PowerPoint. Sad, but true. Even when I am not creating one, I am often reading investor relations presentations or analyst reports. Pay attention to strong presentations. Collect them. See how authors structure data. Yesterday, I worked with my team on a… Read More »

Uber is uber

Uber the taxi-technology company started in 2009 as a novelty for its co-founders and friends. Now it has a market valuation of $51 billion, has 1M active drivers, and operates in 330 cities. Read a Fast Company article here which is focused on the founder – Travis Kalanick – and what an intense, contrarian grinder his is. Major drive, early start-up… Read More »

Category: Fun

270 blog posts later, how it turns out

Been blogging for 3 years and 6 months. Super enjoyed it. As I look back, over 270 blog posts, it’s interesting to see how things turned out. . . Candy Crush – Blogged about the addictive game and its profitable parent company – King Entertainment – here (8/8/15).  Looks like they are being acquired by Activision-Blizzard for $5.8 billion here… Read More »

Category: Fun

McKinsey: 20% of CEO’s job can be outsourced

Routine work is going away. It always has been. Technology as old as the wheel, letter typeset, and the cotton gin have freed people from mundane and repetitive tasks. The market has a wonderful way of arbitraging work (thank you Adam Smith) to the least expensive person who can most reliably finish the job. That precisely is what leverage means.… Read More »

Consulting poll: Have you been to France?

What a tough week for France and the World.  Why people (terrorists = may not be people) create pain, hurt, death . . . in the name of anything . . . I am not sure. Sadly, it just makes it harder for everyone. Xenophobia spreads. Hurt begets hurt. Terrorism is cowardice. Driven by desperation. Alienation. So many… Read More »

Category: Fun

Excel tip: How to clean duplicate rows

Data is often imperfect. As consultants we know that perfect data is a myth. No matter the organization or website, data is gunky, irregular, and often broken. Was at Starbucks this morning doing my travel and expenses. Went to the American Express website and downloaded the last 6 months of corporate charges, or about $34K in planes,… Read More »

Without trust, a diversity of opinion is an argument

I was on a strange call recently. The call lacked an agenda (bad sign), involved too many people (bad sign), and was a round-robin style of updating (bad sign). The leaders of the call were frittering at the edges, a bit nervous, fearful and entirely bureaucratic. Disorienting because I don’t know if the angst came from anger, jealousy,… Read More »

Good day for me, Tableau stock up 20%

I am a terrible stock-picker.  Trust me, my portfolio returns lag the general market. If you read about a stock on this consulting blog – just look the other way. I am writing about it because management consultants need to understand how the capital markets, annual reports, investor relations presentations, and investment research work. If you can learn a… Read More »

Management consulting stocks, quick comparison

Most management consulting firms are privately held. They start off as partnerships and remain that way: McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, E&Y, KPMG, PWC, AT Kearney, PA Consulting, and LEK etc.  PRTM, Monitor and others were bought out. It takes a lot of patience, trust, and brand-building to build a management consulting firm – and that is probably why… Read More »

Consultants eat well; don’t get fat

Consultants eat well. No question about it. Consultants are foodies. We treat good restaurants like wild game. Find them. Eat there. Of course we cannot, do not go to $$$$ restaurants on our client’s dime, but we do eat at $$ restaurants and expense it. Rarely do you miss a meal when traveling. Breakfast at the airport/hotel, lunch… Read More »

Category: Fun

Autumn leaves, New York 

Worked like a dog this week. Got a $284 speeding ticket. Need some changes in the working team. However, life is still good. Check out these leaves from New York, where the client site is. Enjoy.           

Category: Fun

Consulting confession: I love the whiteboard

Who does not love using the whiteboard? It makes the experience creative, tactile, interactive, and open-ended. It’s a running joke with my teams that I will take any opportunity to pickup a dry-erase pen and head towards the whiteboard – like a moth to a night light. I actually have a 8 ft one in my personal home.… Read More »

Consulting is tribal; pick a tribe

Consulting is tribal.  Each of the partners (chieftains) typically have a group of “go-to” principals, senior managers, and network of consultants (tribe) who work on their projects. For even the unobservant person, these tribes become clear: He is one of “Dave’s telecom guys” Sue only works for Jim; she is “on deck” for senior manager this year Jennifer… Read More »