WHO IS MICHAEL KLEIN?
Michael Klein is the Director of the Washington. D.C.-based International Solutions Group, a humanitarian aid and development-focused management consulting firm that specializes in program performance, private sector development, capacity building and information technology development.
Klein says responsiveness and bureaucracy are the main differences between the private sector and international development institutions, which for the most part lack the agility to move quickly, especially during the procurement process. If you understand how these organizations work, he says, and can be responsive and patient, you will have an advantage over your competitors. Also:
• Probably the hardest thing in our business is winning new work. There are innumerable technical experts in the aid and development world whose credentials are impeccable, but winning the work, persuading clients to hire you, has little to do with that specific expertise. Procurement is a completely different thing. And there’s a bit of a Catch-22 when you want to expand your activities into new areas: people want to hire consultants who are extremely experienced in the area they need addressed.
• You need to know also where the work is coming from, where you should look if you want work. And you need to understand in what direction(s) the industry is moving. What are organizations looking for? And how can you fit yourself into that evolution?
• If you want to work with me, responsiveness and trustworthiness are the things I need. I want to hire people I know can do the work.
You can connect with Michael here:
IN TOR 004 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- ISG, a consulting initiative that looks to bring business approaches to the development sector to make it more responsive, flexible and efficient.
- What ISG is looking for in the consultants they work with, and the ways they ensure good outcomes and communication, but also measures against human risks.
- Michael’s view of the 3-recipe sauce success in development entails: securing funding, having technical skills, and being close to what the sector does and where it is going.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- International Solutions Group (ISG)
- Organizational flexibility
- Technical skills
- Washington, DC
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Boutique advisory firm.
Performance. Feedback, evaluatio.n
Private sector has a sharp need identified to be dealt with in real time.
Organizations don’t have such fast response structures.
Michael wants to bring that- the understanding and capabilities for improvement.
Organizations need to realize what they are missing. Asking consultants for advice is the first step.
Technical expertise is good, but clear mission is everything and does not come through doctorates.
Understanding. Consultant need to identify those things about ISG clients.
On individual consultants
Individual consultants are free agents within a network, competing, with CV building as a clear goal in mind.
ISG looks for trustworthy consultants. Technical skills is nothing without responsiveness. This is related to work style affinities. Michael likes to engage with people quickly.
Clients have a lot of say on the consultant that ISG hires.
Success depends on being able to get new work. ISG needs to keep expanding focus while keeping current areas solid.
Success is a product of talent. Technical capacities.
Success, finally, is impossible without deep field knowledge. “Where the industry is headed.” Donors are looking for more with less. Issues of effectiveness, evaluation.
Technical expertise does not always match the location of the project.
ISG is making a conscious effort to put in place systems that protect work from many forms of failure, mostly of human origin and related to working with consultants. In a way it’s an experiment that would provide some learning that later can be applied in their evaluations.
Tailoring proposal takes a lot of time that is often not rewarded. This gives importance to how proposals are selected, and quality.
“If you can win a tender, write a grant, and respond to a proposal, you will never be unemployed.“
Tenders are opportunities. For Michael, the challenges don’t feel like work.
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