A monthly newsletter from the Rochester Professional Consultants Network. October 2020
During our July “Surprise Thursday” Zoom Social Hour, consensus was that we’d like some more social calls. In these days of rarely seeing RPCN friends face to face, our time to get to know our fellow RPCN members and guests has greatly decreased. (And yes! Guests are welcome - what a great way to introduce them to our organization.)
RPCN recently launched a new element in our lineup of online gatherings, "RPCN Social." This one is less about business, more about getting to know each other better and expanding our horizons by sharing experiences. Each month, the RPCN Social gathering will focus on a topic for sharing ideas and experiences. The goals are to become more familiar with each other as individuals, and to broaden our own experiences in a variety of areas.
Zoom sessions will be in the evenings, and the days of the week will vary.
Pop in for the whole session or just a few minutes.
Sessions will be approximately every 3rd week.
We're keeping Surprise Thursdays.
The schedule of topics will be announced in plenty of notice - and if you’re just not into that material, we’ll catch you next time.
Watch your email for registration information links to the October sessions.
Wednesday October 14 - Topic: Things You Just Recently Discovered or Learned
Thursday October 29 - Topic: Surprise (After all, it's Surprise Thursday!)
LEADERSHIP FOR MANAGERS
5 sessions of 4 hours each
This is a broad-spectrum leadership development course, experiential and lively. While designed for both experienced and potential leaders it can be customized to suit other types of participants, such as family groups.
The course facilitator and RPCN member, Bob Whipple, is an international expert on building trust in organizations. The recipient of numerous awards from leadership- and trust-oriented organizations, he has authored four books on trust, and over 80 articles and videos on these topics. He is Certified Professional in Talent Development by the Association for Talent Development.
The standard course is in five sessions from 8:30-12:30 on five consecutive Friday mornings. The next section, now presented virtually, starts September 18, 2020.
For more information or to register, call Jayni Fischer at 585-256-4619.
The Melody Masters Big Band directed by Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes performed on September 12, 2020 on the lawn at River’s Edge of the Episcopal Senior Life group in Rochester, NY. To provide some relief from the pandemic, Parkes programmed works by jazz greats from the 1930’s to the present that reflected the “Love, Heroes, and Hope” theme. The band performed with the required musicians’ personal protective equipment – instrument bell covers with MERV-13 filtration and masks with a slit for a mouthpiece. All observed social distancing standards, and equipment and furniture were sanitized. Prior to conducting “New York, New York”, the last selection, Parkes acknowledged our dedicated health care givers as well as NY State’s success in reducing the number of COVID-related fatalities. Resounding applause from the audience signaled agreement.
In mid-winter, organizations and schools with performing arts offerings could not continue as usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Professionals to amateurs were sidelined and entire seasons cancelled, some events were moved on-line. With the world in quarantine all began to “wait and see” if the virus might be contained soon. Like businesses, schools (k-12, higher ed., and community music) provided on-line music instruction, primarily for individuals. While that can occur virtually, most on-line platforms are not that appropriate for large ensembles since synchronizing multiple musicians and tuning is difficult.
From early March through August, the Melody Masters Big Band anticipated postponing, canceling, and rescheduling engagements including a performance for the Rochester International Jazz Festival and several summer concert series. The band’s annual benefit concert which supports music lessons at The Hochstein School in Rochester for talented Rochester City School music students was rescheduled for November 8th. With warnings from the CDC, Parkes is uncertain if that concert might be held.
Since March, one key question continues to be asked: What conditions and equipment would be necessary so that performers could gather safely to rehearse and perform in safe environments? Parkes consulted initial guidance from the CDC and New York Forward, Reopening New York, Phase Four Industries, Low Risk Outdoor Art and Entertainment Summary Guidelines. In addition, during the spring and summer national music and other arts organizations sought and supplied answers to the question. They include the National Association for Music Education, National Association of Music Merchants, National Federation of State High School Associations, College Band Directors Association, New York State Music Association, New York State Band Directors Association, various publishers, instrument manufacturers, and others.
Most turned to an unprecedented international coalition-sponsored research study at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland on the aerosol transmission of the virus. Two rounds of preliminary results were shared. Recommendations for playing instruments, singing, acting, and dancing indoors and outdoors were given in late August. All use performing masks, all observe 6-foot social distancing except for trombonists who observe 9 feet x 6 feet. Instruments and equipment would be cleaned and sanitized, and instrument bells would be covered. The air exchange rate for indoor spaces would be reviewed, and a five-minute break will occur after each 30-minute block. To learn more about the aerosol study, please click here. More results and further recommendations are eagerly anticipated at the end of 2020. The Melody Masters Big Band and other performers are hopeful that in 2021 they can present concerts as they did before the pandemic.
COVID: Consult On Value In a Downturn (A consultant’s secret weapon during a down economy)
What is Consulting-Client Value?
This Value is a client’s opinion of the benefit they gain when a consultant solves their problem or improves their situation. When engaging prospects, some of us often confuse value with price. Price is important, but clients weigh many factors when they determine the value they’ll receive when choosing a consultant (e.g. Deadlines, competition, loss of customers, management’s reputation and future with the company, etc.)
Selling consulting service based on Value is always important, but it’s crucial in “down” business environments like our COVID19 crisis. Many potential clients are experiencing greatly reduced (or zero) revenue and profit (coupled with ongoing expenses). Their existing strategies and business plans aren’t working, and it’s unclear when their business will turn around. They are in (or feel they are in) survival mode, and are wary of spending money on “unnecessary” items. So, how can clients and consultants survive in this business environment?
Downturn Opportunities for Potential Clients
Resourceful potential clients can take a hard look at their business, and devise ways of staying afloat plus laying groundwork for the future. Some of these opportunities might be:
Repurpose manufacturing facilities to produce items that are in high demand because of the pandemic.
Improve processes to increase efficiency, reduce process time, and reduce or eliminate costs.
Tackle those nagging problems or issues they didn’t have time to address before the downturn when they had “too much business”, or were fighting fires, etc.
Train and empower employees during slack times. Involve them in planning & strategizing.
Find ways to keep their workforce intact while receiving some income (e.g. reduce hours, wages, employee benefits, etc.)
Restructure debt (e.g. delay payment obligations)
Downturn Opportunities for Consultants
Consultants can provide value to help clients be resourceful in many ways. For example, help them to:
Develop business strategies for “the new normal”.
Design methods to be efficient with reduced staffs.
Convert operations from in-person to virtual.
Repair, refurbish and maintain equipment.
Design and implement employee and management training programs.
Investigate new markets.
Plan for when the economy starts to recover.
Discover and Market the Value You can produce
As a consultant, you can:
Interview target clients for their problems, situations, and the value they seek.
Devise new ways of solving problems and improving situations that provide client value.
Stress the value you can provide as you market yourself to potential clients. Keep your “Value Message” consistent and promoted in all marketing methods (e.g. Zoom Webinars & Seminars, website, blogs, LinkedIn, FaceBook, YouTube videos, Networking, etc.)
Remember, all this insight and advice requires you to step out of your former “prosperity comfort zone” to develop and try new methods that deliver client value. During the “Covid New Normal”, go forth and learn how to ConsultOnValueIn aDownturn.
RPCN and Simon Vision Consulting Program Kick Offs our Sixth Semester Providing Mentors for Student Consulting Teams
We’ve kicked off our sixth semester of providing Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN) Consulting Mentors to the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business (Simon) Simon Vision Consulting Program (Simon Vision).
Due to COVID concerns and Simon still having much coursework being taught virtually, many students have decided to take a sabbatical in the fall and will resume their studies in the spring. This reduction in the student body caused Simon Vision to scale back the number of client projects they accepted this semester. Though there was enough client interest to have 18 projects this fall, the program ultimately accepted 10 projects with a heavy focus on marketing strategy. The remaining projects are geared towards corporate strategy and growth strategy.
If you are unfamiliar with Simon Vision, the program is an effort to increase experiential learning opportunities for Simon’s MBA and MS students. It is a student-run program that usually has 4-5 student members per team. Each team provides consulting to (typically) a local small business for 8 - 12 weeks, i.e. one semester. (In the semester that follows, Simon sometimes has another student consulting team take over another project for the same company.)
Participation in the program is voluntary for the students and is not part of the regular Simon curriculum. In addition to the RPCN mentors, there are a couple of faculty advisers who help the students run the program.
I’ll bring you updates on the program as the semester progresses. During the fall we’ll be looking for additional people interested in being mentors this spring. I’ll also let you know when Simon Vision is ready to start finding new projects for the spring semester. If you or a client or associate have a well-defined project that could be outsourced, Simon Vision could be a great source to get your project completed. Projects are typically staffed with four to five Simon Vision consultants and a project manager. Ideally, projects in the spring semester last about 10 weeks, longer projects may also viable. The leadership of Simon Vision will work with you to define a project that can be successfully completed within these constraints.
The project can be any business problem and Simon Vision teams have successfully completed projects focused on marketing, business strategy, financial planning, operations, competitive analysis and the like. Examples of completed projects include reviewing ways to decrease seasonal fluctuations in sales, developing a financial plan to solicit funding, and exploring new marketing channels. So, you can see that the projects can take on a wide variety of topics. And did we mention that the student teams work for FREE!
Projects are vetted by the Simon Vision student governing board and typically 6 – 15 projects are chosen each semester. For the spring semester which will start in January we typically expect 8 – 12 projects to be chosen, but there may be more this spring as those students that took the semester off return to class.
If you are interested in having a Simon Vision Consulting Project Team perform work for you, or would simply like more information about the program, (or even if you’d like to volunteer to be an RPCN member mentor to a student team) please contact Dave Bassett at email@example.com.
September's Meeting Recap -
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
On September 17th, the RPCN Enhancing Human Capital group hosted a “lunch and learn” focused on motivation. Specifically, we looked at the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. We started with clarifying definitions and examples of both types and proceeded to discussing way they may be increased. One key concept was the understanding that leaders do not motivate people, they set up a culture and processes that may foster increased (or, unfortunately, decreased) motivation in people.
Other ideas for increasing motivation that surfaced included giving people more autonomy, increasing task variety and helping people see how what they are doing impacts other people. The biggest takeaway was that providing a climate of trust where intrinsic motivation can grow is probably the most important thing a leader can do.
October’s Meeting - Feedback Loops
The October session of Enhancing Human Capital will be held on October15, beginning at 11:30. The focus will be on Feedback Loops within an organization and will be presented by Bob Manard.
One of the hardest parts of being a leader is getting honest feedback. Feedback Loops can help individuals and organizations to continuously improve and innovate. Topics will include the elements of an effective feedback loop and how creating a culture of honest and open communication within your organization makes it easier to give, receive, and act on feedback. For more information contact Bob Manard.
Did You Know?
Past RPCN Events
Checking out a past RPCN event is easy. The quickest way is to click on the icon on the upper right part of the Home page that is labeled “Events.” That brings up the Calendar of Events page, which is labeled “Upcoming and Past Events.”
First is a list of all the currently scheduled events: programs, forums, and special events. These are listed in chronological order. Scrolling to the end of the scheduled events brings a list of all past events, from the most current event all the way back to March 2010, when we first started using our current website host, Wild Apricot.
Clicking on any Past Event will take you directly to its individual Event Page, where the details of the event are displayed, such as date, speaker, program description, and, in many cases, Key Learning Areas. This page is the same as the page listed originally on the Calendar of Events page on the website.
So, if you have a desire to check out a previous RPCN event. it’s right here waiting for you.
Excerpt: The database collects "over 5,000 authors and 5,000 works with details about the authors and about the contents of the works," the site explains. "The central documents are cookbooks and other writings related to getting, preparing, and consuming food, and the activities associated with them, as well as writings about cultural and moral attitudes." Like Wikipedia, users are invited to submit their own data, which can be edited by other users. Unlike the public encyclopedia, which we know has serious flaws, The Sifter is overseen by experts, and inspired by none other than the expert Julia Child herself, or at least by her library. [Database is free to use.]
Not an RPCN member? You can join RPCN now to receive great benefits, including free admission to RPCN presentations, a listing in the RPCN Member Directory, and discounts to RPCN events. Click here for more information on joining RPCN.
Program Ad Sheets
At every RPCN meeting, and at our events and tradeshow booths, RPCN distributes the Program Ad sheets.
Ads are inexpensive and support RPCN. The cost for members to advertise is $20 for 2 months. For non-members, the cost is $40 for 2 months. The deadline to get your ad included in the November/December 2020 calendar ad sheet is October 17, 2020. Sign up for your ad here.
A note from our copyeditor:
Good day, RPCN members:
As you know, I “pre-edit” the RPCN newsletter before sending it on to Melanie, who puts the newsletter together. This note is just to help us keep things in order because the system sometimes becomes rather more complicated than it sounds here.
In order to help me to retain my sanity, and to avoid my stretching Melanie’s to its limits as well, would you please, if possible:
1. Get your copy of the newsletter to us as close to the 21st of the month as is possible. (It is much more efficient if I can edit them all over a short period.)
2. Put your name and “RPCN newsletter” in the subject line.
3. Make sure that the piece you have just finished writing IS the piece that you actually send us.
The RPCN newsletter welcomes news, success stories, tips, resources, events and other items that would be of broad interest to consultants. Submit a newsletter item to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion.