April 20, 2022

Sorting the wheat from the chaff. Is becoming a Chartered Management Consultant the answer to better rates and improved outcomes for clients?

Last week I did a cheeky shout out on Twitter about an hour before my formal assessment as part of the Chartered Management Consultancy qualification. The 11th hour bit probably doesn’t need much discussion but the Twitter debate about the new independent qualification from CMI and MCA to assess Management Consultants was super useful for me.

Firstly, plenty of people hadn’t heard of it, so there is an awareness piece needed and secondly only a handful had been through it. This wasn’t a surprise as its pretty much brand new. Of course the usual twitter debate ensured about outcome delivery in the world of Consultancy. Hat tip to the offenders/contributors Chris WestonSimon Wardley Robin Oldham and Andy L

I was introduced to the idea of qualifying as a Chartered Management consultant during the middle of last year via mates at Mason Advisory. To become chartered you need seven years of demonstrable Management Consultancy work and references to boot AND you need to map these to a 24 page competency framework. Not for the faint hearted. There is of course a full programme for those earlier in their careers where you can learn as you go over a period of time.

I was skeptical as it is so structured and being ADHD my head freaks out at a form filling exercise. My approach was to immediately delay my submission by 6 months in order to get my act together to make it happen! I would say it’s a couple of months part-time work drafting, refining, remembering and pulling together references to back it up, and navigating a 24 page competency model. For me, not having the experience of learning for a degree is a negative for these things. Making sure you put it together in the way that they want is essential. I did have the same challenge some years ago when I went through Blenheim Chalcott’s Advanced Digital Leadership Diploma (scraped through that by the skin of my teeth!)

For me, we are having a challenging time right now in the world of consultancy as there is a real race to the bottom on day rates. This has absolutely been the case on and off over the years but now more than ever I am seeing more and more ‘Digital Capability’ gigs with low rates and it’s increasingly difficult to really demonstrate value add and the delivery of outcomes. I absolutely welcome an independent way of evidencing consultancy skills rather than just chucking them on the CV or giving it the big un’ on socials about what a legend you are.

So, this blend of CMI and MCA may well be the answer. In a market where the day rates clients are paying are continuing to drop and the salaries we are paying staff are rising a differentiator is needed. From the beginning of April we have started to see outcomes from government on the management consultancy framework asking for Chartered Management consultants which is heartening. It will be interesting to see if this continues and how much support Cabinet office lend to this process.

For me personally; I found the process tested me, it asked for independent evidence and references, the assessment was done under exam conditions, it was thorough, professional and probing.

Government/Healthcare (and private sector) could do a lot worse than adopting an independent benchmark around consultancy rather than continuing to just keep on chucking massive day rates to the Big 5 and then never exercising the insurance policy they have paid for!

I’m hoping this piece elicits feedback and I suspect more than a hint of skepticism from colleagues across the industry!

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