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by Randall Craig on December 23, 2016

Filed in: Associations, Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management

Tagged as: ,

Wikipedia defines consumerization as the reorientation of product and service designs to focus on (and market to) the end user as an individual consumer, vs an earlier era of organization-oriented offerings.  It speaks to growing markets by looking for a completely different category of buyer, who may also be an influencer for the organizational purchase.

Of greater relevance, however, is looking at consumerization from the buyer’s perspective.  Consider:

  • “consumerized” members of an association may no longer see membership as a great investment: they may compare membership with alternatives, and decide that something – or anything – is a better use of their funds: impacts membership.
  • “consumerized” staff may prefer their own computers (and smartphones) over the “clunky” official tech gear: impacts IT planning, IT security, and brand.
  • “consumerized” clients may suddenly look elsewhere for answers to their problems… including Google, LinkedIn groups, and your competitors:  impacts both marketing strategy, and revenue.
  • “consumerized” learners may prefer to learn at a time of their choosing using (now part of Microsoft/LinkedIn), instead of attending your “official” professional development offerings: impacts training strategy (and training providers!)

If the internet (and Amazon) has taught us anything, it is that we are fast approaching a time with almost perfect access, both to information and capability.  It takes merely seconds to find an answer on Google, and mere minutes to set up a server on the Amazon cloud.

This week’s action plan:  Imagine a time, five years in the future, when you are competing in a completely consumerized market.  While it is a significant analytical exercise to imagine what this looks like, this week’s action plan is more practical:  what is your organization doing, right now, that you don’t think measures up to consumer choice?  Then either up your game and choose to compete with this, or give it up and redeploy your resources to an activity that has consumer “legs”.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and design
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Why are all consulting projects not wildly successful?  Why are some merely acceptable, and others fail?

Without a doubt, consultants are often to blame: they over-promise, under-scope, or take on assignments with unrealistic deadlines.  Yet clients also control the outcome of the engagement, and often, unwittingly, sabotage their consultants.

Here are six ways this is done:

1) Selection process for consultants is too costly.  The best firms are very busy, especially in the hottest fields.  They won’t go through what they see as unreasonable “hoops” or costly processes to bid – but many mediocre firms will.  The result is a choice of B list players, driving up risk.  To solve this, review your procurement process to ensure that the right consultants actually choose to bid.

2) Fee pressure affects work effort.  An open and frank discussion on work effort and fees is critical.  The best consultants would never compromise their reputation by taking on work that couldn’t be done within the budget.  Yet, if there is undue pressure on fees, then something, somewhere, must be cut:, fewer senior resources, less time on discovery, less time exploring options, recommendations, or implementation.  As a result, project risk goes through the roof.  (On the other hand, any consultant who pads their fees will quickly find themselves without clients, and without a reputation.)

3) No “swilling the broth”. A poorly-defined engagement is where the consultant is constrained from doing an appropriate discovery.  On the other side of the coin, the term swilling the broth is about consultants who do a great job of discovery, swill their findings together, and then feed you back your own broth. The most effective engagements include a discovery phase where the consultant surfaces issues and ideas… but also where the consultant adds their deep experience and knowledge of best practice.

4) No internal alignment.  A successful engagement requires cooperation, not just between the consultant and the client, but also within the client. If some internal groups have differing priorities – or are concerned about the impact of the consultant’s recommendations – they will not fully engage with the consultant.  Or, they may actively sabotage the engagement’s success.  Internal alignment is critical.

5) Project delays.  The consulting team that is working on your project is actually juggling a number of different priorities: other projects, business development/proposal writing, scheduled training courses, personal vacations, and internal firm commitments.   When your project is resourced, there is a certain amount of flexibility, but not an infinite amount of it.  Delays increase the cost of the project to the consultant immeasurably:  momentum is lost, project management costs increase, and other projects begin to take priority.  Even more importantly, delays signal that the project is a lesser priority, both internally and with the consultant.

6) Payment delays.  Like any business, consulting firms need to pay their expenses.  Since many consultants bill at the end of the month, and many clients take 30 days to pay, there is often a gap of 60 days between when an expense is incurred and the payment received.  When the delays are even greater, consultants are even less motivated to go the extra mile.  (Conversely, quick payment is exceptionally motivating.)

This week’s action plan:  In 30+ years of consulting, I have never seen a client who intentionally sabotages their project.  But I have seen many clients who ask “how can we be a better client?”  The answer to this question will have a direct impact on the quality of the project.  This week, if you use consultants, ask them this question.

And if you serve clients… How might you help your clients be better clients? Since it takes two to tango, go through this list again, and pinpoint your role in each.


Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register. 

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and design
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


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