An Award I Won’t Show Up For

The following is absolutely true.

On Monday I received a call from someone I’ll call “Howie” from the Institute of Management Consulting (IMC). His voice message told me that the organization wanted to give me an award, and was curious as to whether I’d be attending the convention next month in Reno to receive it.

I returned the call, but he wasn’t in. I found it odd that the IMC would be awarding me anything, especially since the convention was planned well in advance, and many of the long-time members think I’m “arrogant” (!!) because I dare argue with holy writ (and, perhaps, because they haven’t written 26 books). Why ask me less than a month prior to attend? (I wouldn’t go to Reno again for anything less than the Pulitzer Prize, but that’s another story.)

The next afternoon, still no return call, so I tried again. This time Howie was in, and told me he was “just about to call back,” a scant full day later.

“We want to give you an award as a former chapter president,” he told me. It turns out that Howie is a functionary in the management association which runs IMC’s administrative side.

“I was never a chapter president,” I pointed out.

“Maybe I have the wrong list,” he mused. “Oh, yes, here it is: We want to give you an award as an outgoing director of the board.”

“That was over three years ago,” I pointed out. “Why now?”

“Well, it seems we put in a plaque order with a company that delayed completing it, and ultimately went out of business. We finally got around to finding a new company, and we want to give the awards to all the former board directors.”

“Thanks, but I won’t be coming.”

Here are just a few of my problems with this:

1. The IMC has done poorly financially and in terms of membership growth over the years. I don’t think any board members, including me, deserve an award for serving.
2. Why provide an award for a post which people voluntarily seek? And does the mere act of sitting in the seat justify being recognized?
3. Given the IMC’s financial and membership problems, couldn’t the money be better spent on a scholarship to the convention for a new consultant, or as a contribution to a consultant who is having health problems?
4. The best that management consultants could do was wait three years to resolve the plaque situation?!

I could go on (and on). This is what’s wrong with our profession and with the plight of solo practitioners. We should be thinking bigger, acting better, and setting examples for our clients and prospects. Instead, we trip over our own shoelaces.

The National Speakers Association, The American Press Institute and a few other misguided organizations have awarded me their highest honors. The IMC has never done that, mainly because, instead of honoring the best, it’s been overly concerned with preventing anyone from being seen as “too good.”

I remain a member of IMC and believe you have to invest back in the profession. That connection also allows me to comment on nuttiness like this.

Next week I’m flying to Seattle to speak, pro bono, at the IMC chapter there, as I did in Portland a month ago, and will do at others in the months to come. That’s how the best of us can make a difference, through the sharing of our talent directly with our colleagues, not by accepting a plaque.

© 2007 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved.


2 thoughts on “An Award I Won’t Show Up For

  1. Thanks Alan, I appreciate the candor. I’ve been reading your books, newsletter, and website articles for many years and am looking forward to attending your IMC presentation in Seattle next week.

  2. Alan, your presentation at the Seattle IMC this morning was exceptional. I’m in the process of moving to value-based fees so your comments were timely and relevant to my current situation. Just wanted to let you know your pro bono work is appreciated.

    I look forward to your second edition of “Value-Based Fees”.

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