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Alex Sortwell

­The 3 Common Mistakes Traditional Consulting Firms Make

The 3 Common Mistakes Traditional Consulting Firms Make

David Maister is widely considered one of the leading authorities on managing professional service firms (such as law, accounting and consulting). He has taught and lectured  at a doctorate in logistics & transportation from Harvard Business School, where he taught and lectured until 1985.  In 2002, he was named one of the top 40 business thinkers in the world and he is the author of six bestselling books.

In his book Managing The Professional Service Firm (Publisher name, 1992), Maister offers practical advice for successfully managing a professional firm and brings to light the alarming realities of mistakes that consulting firms often make.

Although the book was published in 1992, well before the digital technology boom, professional service firms are still making many of the same errors Maister cited 21 years ago.

TrustedPeer now makes it possible for clients to avoid these issues. TrustedPeer’s proprietary online platform system harnesses advances in digital networking to enable client companies to sidestep common issues found in traditional consulting.  It The system allows companies to forego expensive, time-consuming and unpredictable consulting engagements and opt instead for carefully-targeted micro-consulting sessions with top-of-field experts rigorously vetted by TrustedPeer.

Here Below are three of the most common problems recognized by Maister that traditional consulting firms still make.

1.           Traditional Firms “Sell” Instead of “Solve”


As Maister states, “Buying professional services is rarely a comfortable experience.” Traditionally, a clients haves to give up some degree of control by putting their company’s’ affairs in the hands of someone else. Conventional consulting firms are often willing to take on the business of any client even if their knowledge of the client’s industry is severely limited. Firms provide clients with partners who are focused on personal incentives from the firm instead of solving the client’s issue.

Maister outlines the mindset of a potential client considering procuring professional services.

“I’m skeptical. I’ve been burned before by these kinds of people. I get a lot of promises: How do I know whose promise I should buy? I’m concerned that you either can’t or won’t take the time to understand what makes my situation special. In short, will you deal with me the way in the way I want to be dealt with?”

TrustedPeer goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure clients consult with Experts who have decades of experience solving problems in their industry and can deliver on client needs and expectations quickly. Each TrustedPeer Expert’s profile – detailing quantifiable and recognizable credentials and accomplishments – is only a starting point. Each expert also produces deep and robust content exploring common problems, key trends and best practices in his or her specific area of expertise.

Instead of buying a brand, clients can judge TrustedPeer Experts by the credibility of their content.  Before a nickel is spent, clients know exactly whom they will be working with and the depth of expertise their expert brings to solving their problems.

“Above all else, what I, the client, am looking for, is that rare professional who has both technical skill and a sincere desire to be helpful, to work with both me and my problem. The key is empathy—the ability to enter my world and see through my eyes.”

With TrustedPeer Experts, you gain knowledge from independent consultants who are not motivated to meet the quotas of a firm. TrustedPeer and TrustedPeer Experts are dedicated to solving client problems, not selling solutions. Experts are prepared to give objective, unvarnished guidance. 

2.     Traditional Consulting Firms Don’t Reinvigorate Their Assets


While successful firms may adapt and adjust, they rarely reinvigorate the talents of the partners they hire. As the environment changes and technology progresses, new issues arise that require specialized skills and knowledge. Traditional consulting firms can’t or don’t make the pivot to reinvigorate their assets because they become complacent in the skills that have previously brought them success. As Maister puts it,

“What you know now and are able to do now, what your current success is built on, will unavoidably depreciate in value unless you actively work on learning new things and building new skills.”

The network of TrustedPeer Experts is growing constantly by adding  new independent consultants in specialized fields ranging from cloud integration to agriculture.  New experts bring in new knowledge and new content. All TrustedPeer Experts regularly update their business topics and content as they work in real- time to solve client problems.

When an enterprise hires a consulting firm they often have to translate the language of their industry to receive a generalized solution to their problem. This is not a problem with TrustedPeer Experts, who on average have 26 years of experience in their specific areas of expertise. They are able to provide professional counsel that, as Maister prescribes, “does not require the client to do any mental translation of generalities or terminology into his or her specific situation.”

3.   Traditional Consulting Firms Don’t Pay Enough Attention to Existing Clients


Firms often overemphasize new clients, while overcharging existing clients for a lesser quality of service. As Maister puts it,

“When a new client is brought in, rockets go off, bells sound, your name gets in the firm newsletter and you can bank on a good bonus. If you bring in an equivalent amount of business from existing clients, the management yawns and says, ‘at last he’s doing his job.’”

For most firms, the acquisition of a new client is more exciting and potentially more remunerative. TrustedPeer avoids this tendency by frequently updating existing clients on expertise that could be of value and offering carefully-analyzed, personal custom recommendations of TrustedPeer Experts who can address new and evolving problems.

Existing clients can chose to spend their consulting budgets more wisely on frequent well-targeted micro-consulting engagements addressing different aspects of their operations than on a single large and expensive engagement of dubious and unpredictable value. In this way, TrustedPeer offers preemptive solutions to future problems before they are allowed to spiral out of control.















Steven Feinberg

Getting to Know Manufacturing Expert Steven Feinberg

This is the first in a series of “Getting to Know” posts that feature one of our TrustedPeer experts discussing developments in their area of expertise. We’re kicking the series off with  Steven Feinberg, who has over 20 years of experience consulting with clients in need of outsourced manufacturing worldwide, including from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Poland, Israel and the U.S.. 

  1. Why did you decide to join TrustedPeer?  
    Although my companies, SF Global Sourcing and SF Video, are sourcing and manufacturing companies, a lot of companies that work with me aren’t buying in large volumes; sometimes they just want to pick our brains. So TrustedPeer, being a consultancy company, is another way for me to commoditize this knowledge.
  2. What are you most excited about in sourcing and manufacturing right now?  
    I’m really excited that manufacturing is coming back to the USA. With labor rates in India and China rising, the US is becoming more competitive, and creating predictions of insourcing. And the flip side to this is that I’m not excited about China becoming less competitive, because I source so much there. China has invested so heavily in their infrastructure, the quality and consistency of their goods has risen over the years. But with this quality increase, the costs have increased. So you get what you pay for.

  3. How has technology changed manufacturing and sourcing?   
    It has really increased communication. I can Skype or hop on a call with China in real time now. So as long as I’m okay staying up those hours, I can get so much more done internationally in real time.

    Also, I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about the Industrial Internet lately. The Industrial Internet is a term GE coined that refers to the connection between physical machinery and software, and the data that this connection serves up. I can see this trend being transformative for manufacturing in general. 

    In my own day-to-day work, I’m particularly interested in seeing how my customers utilize the video distribution platform I provide. I think it's just as interesting to sift through individual data around product features as it is to sift through the big data that the Industrial Internet can provide. The idea being that your next generation product can fulfill needs that the feedback and data surface.

  4. Can you tell us about an “aha” moment in your career/work? 
    When I figured out that my main function as a manufacturer is to translate what’s in a product developer’s mind into a real life object. This realization led to us creating a more rigorous process called the WOW process, which standardized our approach to translating a product creator’s vision into reality. It’s an iterative process that allows me to take a vague statement from an inventor or product creator like “I need a DVD, you know what I mean…” and turn it into a physical product. This process that become my core expertise, and a part of my company’s DNA. 
  5. If you had a crystal ball, where would you predict the future of Manufacturing Strategy/Supply Chain going? 
    There’s a continual pendulum swinging between manufacturing your own product and outsourcing it. I see the future as more of a hybrid approach where companies are manufacturing their core product, and then outsourcing ancillary goods. Each company will need to create their own criteria for what makes sense here, but this is the gist. 

    To read more on Steven's manufacturing expertise or to book an Expert Session, visit his Meet The Expert page on our site.


Philip Bouchard

Turning Lean On Its Ear

The concept of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is giving way to the lean corporation. In the lean corporation, “The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.” That’s according to the Lean Institute.


Saying zero waste is like saying you want a corporation with zero friction. Every employee is a high performer, they have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and they communicate perfectly. Sounds idyllic, no? Well, we stated this aspiration almost a year ago, and it’s still top of mind.

Over the last decade, especially with globalization kicking off a sea change and having internet-speed communication at little or no cost, we’ve noticed a decided move to hiring specialist firms to decrease waste and friction. To date, this level of outsourcing has focused on repetitive, paper-driven or time-intensive activities such as invoicing, accounts payable, or call centers.

We see a future in which senior management expertise is introduced just-in-time with strategic business skills. And, because of their experience, they bring a network of resources for you as well.

On the consulting side, highly specialized individuals do not have a cross-functional offering. They can’t support the multiple areas of specialization that clients demand. Enter TrustedPeer.

TrustedPeer has two compelling differentiators.

  • We are a full-service destination. With more than 100 experts and the number climbing all the time, an individual consultant who is a TrustedPeer Expert becomes part of a larger mission. If you don’t see a practice area covered, our Experts will source and qualify someone for you immediately.

  • We focus on experienced, vetted players - an entrepreneur could outsource the senior management to TrustedPeer, contradicting the idea that only narrowly defined, repetitive business processes can be outsourced.

It’s exciting times this week as we launched our new site, with streamlined design, 100 available experts and an improved workflow process. Come visit us and verify!

If you need consulting on Business Development, contact TrustedPeer Expert and CEO Philip Bouchard.


Philip Bouchard

Have We Entered the Era of Internet Caveat Emptor?

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A failed method of decision support is Internet searches.  The Internet is completely algorithm-based now.  And the balance of transparency vs. being targeted has shifted heavily in the favor of advertisers. Where on the Internet can decision-makers find trust and authenticity?  There must be providers of trusted, skillfully curated and delivered information.  TrustedPeer is one of those sites.

My thoughts were ignited by David Segal’s May 4th New York Times Sunday Business article “The Great Unwatched."  As Mr. Segal points out in the article, "57 percent of two billion ads surveyed over two months were deemed to be unviewable," yet companies still paid for the ads.

Unfortunately, I think of dubious parallels:
  • Remember Collateralized Debt Obligations and other structured asset-backed securities? 
  • Remember in Casablanca when Claude Rains declares that he’s shocked that gambling is going on as he palms a payoff on the side?
  • Are we aware, while we “research,” the Internet can be gamed in so many areas? Think of Wikipedia content or LinkedIn endorsements or, per Mr. Segal, video ad placement.  
The fact is that we should all be skeptical of the Internet as a decision support tool.  However, any problem presents an opportunity.  There is a parallel trend where authenticity, quality and objectivity are being are being held in higher esteem.

At TrustedPeer, we're building our brand on trust, authenticity and quality.  One TrustedPeer Expert at a time.

If you need consulting on Business Management, contact TrustedPeer Expert and CEO Philip Bouchard.

CE Shue

Alleviating CEO Stress in 2014

Sunday’s WSJ featured a piece on CEO pressure turning up in 2014.  

We talked to TrustedPeer Expert and CEO Philip Bouchard about what CEOs can do to manage the pressure they are under.  Here are 5 simple rules, garnered in a 30-minute Expert Session.

  1. The primary responsibility of the board of directors is to hire and fire the CEO.  The tool the board has is blunt, so it needs attention.
  2. The biggest mistake a CEO can make is to over-promise on your plan.  Be realistic and push back on pressure if the expectations feel unreasonable.
  3. Managing the board isn’t about personal relationships; it’s about trust and straightforward information. This means open communications for both good news and bad.  A board member should never hear news about the company from a third party. Never.
  4. Board-level communications should always be inclusive.  Send an email to all board members stating that you will call each of them over a specified time-frame.  Phone or face-to-face is the only way effective board-level communication should happen.
  5. Use the board to manage strategy, not the details.  You don’t want to ask the board's advice about managing the company; they can hire a new CEO to do that.  You want to talk about your plan, how the company is performing, and what you see coming. Board members respect solid, well-thought-through arguments in which the CEO takes a position and provides a risk assessment.

If you do all of the above, your performance as CEO will burnish board members’ reputations with investors and limited partners. 

Make them look good!

Ultimately, straight talk and predictability earn trust and respect. 

If you need consulting on business management, contact TrustedPeer Expert Philip Bouchard.