Four Key Drivers of Disruption in Management Consulting: My Observations as CMC-Global Chair

By: Dwight Mihalicz FCMC

It was a beautiful spring day in 2013. Little had I expected a phone call from Glenn Yonemitsu, then Executive Director of CMC-Canada, asking if I would consider accepting a nomination to the Board of ICMCI (now CMC-Global).
I was blissfully enjoying my semi-retirement, focused on research, writing, volunteer work, and part time consulting. One of most interesting volunteer activities was with our profession’s international organization supporting their Breakthrough Strategy work on the Finance and Governance working groups.

To make a long story short, after Glenn made a convincing case, I did end up being nominated for the Treasurer role. I was informed in July 2013 that I was acclaimed to the position of Treasurer of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes. 

After five years in the Treasurer role, I campaigned for and was elected as Chair of the Board of Directors of CMC-Global in October 2018. In October 2021 I completed my term as Chair, an opportunity that provided me with eight amazing years in executive roles of the global profession of management consulting.

Throughout my terms in office, management consultants have been dealing with the slowly building storm of disruption in our profession. Disruption often comes like a tornado. One minute everything seems normal as we go about our typical affairs. And then things change unexpectedly and completely. The disruption of many professions, management consulting among them, has come upon us more like the impending storm. You can see the darkening clouds in the distance. You can feel the change in the air. But for the most part we can carry on as before.

The arrival of the tornado of COVID-19 in 2020 was a disruptor with previously unimaginable impact. All businesses around the world were impacted in some way. And as a result, all management consultants around the world were affected.

The pandemic did not create the disruption of our profession. But it certainly fuelled the pace of the change. It has particularly accelerated changes to the way client organizations think about how and when they use professional consulting services. 

Four Key Drivers of Disruption in Management Consulting
First, clients are thinking less about the big ticket projects and instead pacing their changes in smaller steps. When support is required, they are increasingly willing to seek out the best individual they can find that has the skills required to solve their problem. 

They also want this person to walk with them the last mile – to have a willingness to implement solutions in a sustainable way. This is good for consulting, our industry, and for Institutes. It reinforces the importance of the professional CMC certification – that demonstration of individual competence.  It also places the burden on us to educate our client organizations as to the difference between specialized expertise and the services delivered by a professional management consultant. Our ICMCI services such as ISO 20700 Checklist Training and certification of CMCs is more important than ever.

Second, access to knowledge is greater than it has ever been. Augmented Intelligence is here to stay. Artificial Intelligence and other forms of digitization are increasingly sophisticated. This is good for our industry but can be a negative for Institutes. This is because Institutes used to be the ‘body of knowledge’ for their profession but are increasingly perceived not to be so. This applies to all professional institutes, not simply management consulting institutes.

Third is access to networking: Individuals can reach out and connect with each other with greater ease than ever before. This is positive for the industry. It can be a negative for professional institutes who are no longer seen by new entrants into the industry as the ‘must place to be’.

The fourth driver is the perceived availability of talent vs the professional management consultant as trusted advisor. This is what I call the uber-ization of consulting.  As organizations seek out specialized expertise through these platforms, are they getting the services they actually need? Or are they missing out on that professional, diagnostic capability that a management consultant can bring to the table? Are they hiring part-time, specialised expertise to solve the symptom of a problem instead of hiring a management consultant to help them to get to the root cause and solve that problem?

On the plus side, there are increasing numbers of individuals entering the industry of consulting. 

On the downside, because of the easier access to knowledge and easier ability to network, the role of the Institute as the professional home of the industry of Consulting is under threat. 

But is this a real threat? To me, this thinking is counterproductive. In times like these, with an increasing pace of change and increasing threats of disruption from multiple sources, Institutes have a critical role to play. The ability to network, to share experiences and ideas, to improve on best practices, and to keep abreast of the latest changes - these all require a mechanism such as the Institute to bring consultants together. 

Our challenge is to demonstrate to new entrants and existing members that we can create this value for them. How we do that will require some out of the box thinking. 

This out of the box thinking may be difficult for us. How can those of us who are in the profession make it as easy and as meaningful as possible for new entrants to the industry want to join the profession? Terms such as member and institute may be counter productive. They conjure up images of rigidity that are not thought well of is this age of agility and quick pivots. 

One of the silver linings of COVID is that borders themselves have less meaning than ever before. This applies to clients seeking consultants, and it also applies to consultants collaborating with each other.

Pre-pandemic, we had artificial boundaries between our territorially-based Institutes. Not through any ill intent, but simply because of the way we did things. CMC-Global Delegates and some observers would get together at the Annual Meeting or a Hub meeting and could collaborate and get to know each other. Any additional opportunities to network internationally were few and far between.

That has completely broken down. The ICMCI online seminar series has been exceptionally well attended, and at these sessions consultant from around the world come together to learn and to share information. The events of Institutes are regularly attended by consultants with an interest in the subject matter from other parts of the world. I have seen many cases where the non-members of an event outweigh the number of members. This is great. This ability for a management consultant to reach out and connect with a colleague anywhere else in the world is an amazing opportunity. 

This is a breakthrough for our profession.

And through it all, even as the way we work has changed, the volunteers of our profession have continued to produce amazing outcomes. There is an amazing amount of volunteer effort that goes into the advancement of our profession from our Institutes around the globe. 

From a personal perspective, my experience in my volunteer roles has been amazing. Yes, it has taken a lot of time and effort. But the rewards have far outweighed the cost. I have been repaid many-fold in terms of new friends, new colleagues and in the amazing learning I have had personally in the knowledge and expertise related to the profession of management consulting.

I have three years left on the Board of ICMCI as the Past Chair and look forward to being able to contribute to contribute although in a different way.

With respect to our profession, I look to the future with hope and optimism, knowing that our profession has a bright future. We have some hills to climb, and challenges to overcome, but that is the nature of who we are and what we do. 

We solve problems. We know how to thrive in difficult times. 

Disruption is not a roadblock, not a hurdle – it is a stimulation to us to reimagine ourselves in even better and more productive ways.

We have exciting times ahead, and I am looking forward to continuing the journey with my colleagues around the world.


About the Author — Dwight Mihalicz
Dwight had been a management consultant practicing in Canada and around the world for over 20 years. He has volunteered extensively in his career, having served as Chair, UNICEF Canada, as Treasurer and Chair of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI), and a number of other national and international bodies.

Dwight has founded and is President of Effective Managers™, a management consulting firm based in Canada, providing services globally. The firm uses The Resilient Organization Program™ help Owners and CEOs find and fix root cause problems that hinder success.

Dwight can be reached via