Terry & Cheryl Promoted to Senior Strategic Consultants

For the last six months, Cheryl Wilson & Terry Langholdt have served J&M in the role of Strategic Consultant.  Due to the company’s aggressive growth and expansion in major markets, J&M has formalized a Senior Strategic Consultant role.  The role has specific responsibilities to coaching J&M consultants for individual growth and development and preparing them for an exciting career working with our valued clients.

Cheryl explained of the move, “Helping new consultants become successful and fully embrace J&M’s Mission, Vision and Values is critical to our continued growth.  I’m excited to lend some of my experiences to our new consultants”.

Terry added, “In my 30 years in this field, I have never seen such a deep and family-like commitment between a firm and its employees.  To be a part of this culture and help establish a strong bond with employees will further our market differentiator from other consulting firms”.

J&M Strategic Consulting continues to grow because of the dedicated people that make the firm what it is.  With that growth comes opportunity.  We are extremely happy to share this opportunity with our talented team members so that we continue to grow and do incredible things together.

Please join us in congratulating Cheryl & Terry on their new role!

Question of The Month: How do I lead when I am not in charge?

Every month, the J&M team gets together for a leadership meeting discussing a topic chosen by one of our employees.  The most recent topic is relevant for anyone in any business that lacked authority at some point in time.  How do you lead when you are not in charge?  This question goes deeper than just trying to lead other people.

Our discussion spawned from an online webcast on May 17 called “How To Lead When You’re Not In Charge.”  The entire premise of the two-hour show focused on leading yourself before you can lead other people.  By managing yourself in a positive manner, you can influence those around you without being in a position of authority.  Be an observer, stay positive, think critically, and reject passivity.  Stay within yourself in that no one person is more important than the mission and the vision of the company.

That meeting got many of us thinking here at J&M about how we manage ourselves and how we can be better individually to lead each other to success.  Now, we want to know your thoughts on this topic.  Comment below and tell us: 

  • How do you lead when you are not in charge?
  • What have you done in the past to overcome this challenge?
  • What have you done in the past that backfired?

Missed the webcast?  No problem.  Click here to register for an encore presentation this Wednesday, and let us know what you think!

My Journey to Become a Strategic Consultant

Part 3:  Becoming a Professional

by Terry Langholdt

When I was 10 years old, my grandfather Russell told me, “If you want to write a good story, grab their attention.  Start at the end, and then take them to the beginning.”

Through the first two parts of my story, you have seen how the intrigue of technology formed the path that I followed through high school and college.  In my third and final of installment of this trilogy, that endless path continues to where I am today.

I accepted my first job in IT.  It was exactly what I hoped it would be.  Uniting people with technology by making the machines perform all the repetitive, mind-numbing work was immensely satisfying.  I worked long hours and traveled frequently, but I didn’t care.  This was the IT learning curve.  As an IT professional at the time, I had to do everything from gathering the requirements to delivering the product.  It was the full package, and I couldn’t think of a better way to begin this career.

In reflection, my career was so focused on technology and people that I didn’t realize my customer service skills were radically evolving to this new thing called the “internet.”  I owned a small computer store that sold “customer service” and invested in people to show them how we could close distance with technology.  For example, there was a man that used to mail letters to a friend in Germany on “onion paper.”  This onion paper was lighter and cheaper to send via the post office.  Little did he know, there was an even better way.

The idea of electronic mail baffled him.  After hours of practice, his world seemed to shrink as he could email his friend and get a reply within an hour without spending any money!  The entire process used to take weeks and could get expensive.  Now, through technology, he could experience the flow of conversation in only a few minutes!

My career quickly moved into large corporations that needed assistance in introducing new, cutting-edge technologies.  This sparked the leadership phase of my career.  I chuckle that I’ve been managing people for 20 years because it only feels like a blink of the eye.  Helping people find their passion and encouraging them to be the best is truly where my career feels complete.  I’ve made many friends along the way and earned a title from some as a “great boss”.  I smile, as I feel all I did was listen, and push them to be better than they could ever imagine.

Now, I’m 48, married, with six kids, and I look back at all I’ve done, but more importantly, what I still want to do.  I want to find the people that want to help others through technology, and teach them as much as I can.  My title reads strategic consultant.  To me, it’s my passion and drive culminating a 30 year career that gives me the ability to lead, the perseverance to get through the hard times, and the never ending hope to find the best of everyone.

As I close this series, I hope that I have inspired you to keep going in your career.  Know that there will always be challenges and that the biggest thing is to believe in yourself and play every day like it is the Super Bowl.  I love my career, and I thank my higher power for giving me the drive to take that 12-year-old kid and mold him into what I am today:  a leader, a manager, a strategic consultant.

 

My Journey to Become a Strategic Consultant

Part 1: The Beginning

by Terry Langholdt

When I was 10 years old, my grandfather Russell told me, “If you want to write a good story, grab their attention.  Start at the end, and then take them to the beginning.”

I am 48 years old, married, with a family and an incredible group of friends.  I work for a company that “gets it.”  Our company’s core, or GPS, includes leadership, faith, integrity, passion, and community.  Our company’s vision consists of six words:  balance, transparency, commitment, teamwork, excellence and inspire.  We work hard, play hard, and I am extremely proud to say that we even pray together.  Together, we are family.  We celebrate together.  We cry together.  And we rely on each other.  This togetherness makes J&M an amazing company to work for.

I have been blessed with a passion for IT, which I discovered when I was 12 years old when my math teacher introduced me to an Apple computer.  It was the most pleasant green screen my eyes had ever seen.  I was immediately hooked, and wanted to understand everything about this exciting new technology.

When I was 13, I worked an entire summer to save up and buy my first computer.  The drive to learn how to program was so compelling that I took nighttime college courses while finishing the eighth grade.  These classes were comprised of people that were much older than me, which was uncomfortable at the time.  But once we got into the lessons, our shared interest and eagerness to learn allowed me to relate with them.  That’s when I realized that I could  turn my knowledge into something much bigger.  

At 14, I wrote my first “system” to print customer labels for a local business.  Manually writing these labels took an entire day, once a month.  I was compelled to find a way to automate this repetitive, time consuming task.  This was the first time I saw the value and efficiency that IT held in automation.  Still, I wanted to make these systems faster.  That process only took one day out of the month, but it took me almost two months to write it.  It only fed my desire to find innovative ways to write programs, and to learn how to type faster.  That provided the motivation I needed so that I could take the next step.

I was now 16, and this drive to improve technology led to a week-long course at a University that was reserved for college students.  Imagine the tenacity of a high schooler to meet with the head of the college department and convince him to let you attend after he had rejected your application on the first attempt because you were not old enough.  I worked three jobs to be able to afford this class.  I wanted this more than anything and wasn’t about to miss out.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Are your meetings costing you money?

by Koby Uhrig

An email recently circulated through J&M about meeting etiquette and recognizing the importance of being focused on the preparation and structure of a business meeting.  Every business reviews its policies and expectations for meetings, but how do you maximize productivity in a business meeting?  Time is valuable to any business, so it is important to have all attendees on the same page.

Obviously, effective communication is critical to a business meeting, and this starts in the meeting’s development stage.  Every attendee is responsible for understanding the purpose in order to enhance the overall effectiveness of the meeting.

We’ve talked so much in the past about the direct impact relationships have on business and communication.  These relationships can really drive the productivity of the meeting.  In addition to preparing for the content that will be discussed, it is key to get to know everyone that will be at the meeting.  An email could be sent out with a brief background of yourself for others to get to know you.  Or, better yet, arrive early.  This shows you are prepared, ready to go, and provides an opportunity to mingle with someone you do not know or have not worked with before.

While relationships can keep a conversation going, it is ultimately up to the attendees to be heard.  Meetings are set up to reach a common goal or to discuss a given topic within the company.  They are created so that everyone involved has the ability to provide input.  It is one thing to check into the meeting, but it is another to participate.  When invited to a meeting, you are expected to reveal any questions or concerns so the entire team is on the same page and can exceed the common goal.

Our president, Jen Dodge, once saved a project over $7,000 a week by making the following suggestions to the Project Sponsor in regards to recurring meetings:

>> Meetings are meant for collaboration only; information sharing should be through email, SharePoint, Corporate Information Sharing vehicles.

>> Agenda and purpose must be clear; parking lot all discussions that don’t contribute to the purpose.

>>Do your homework prior to the meeting; Organizer should set alerts to remind them about their homework.

>> Leadership should not tolerate late or unprepared attendees; lead by example.

>>Invite only the necessary resources; the FYI resources should be copied on the meeting minutes.

 

J&M has experience working with many different companies that employ people of all different backgrounds.  When taking on a new challenge, we take the necessary time to thoroughly understand the business and the people we are working with.  This perpetuates successful meetings in the short term and extraordinary results in the long term.  Build your company’s working relationship with J&M today.

Happy New Year?

It’s officially transition time for your business.  You are nearing the end of your fiscal year and want to gain some momentum as the new fiscal year opens.  So how do you stay on track and lead your business to success as the fiscal year changes?  It is important to track progress made in the past year and build on it moving forward.  At J&M, we are here to help this process.  We offer a number of services directed at guiding your team along the correct path as you embark on the new fiscal year.

  • Complete assessment
  • Plotting a roadmap
  • Resource management
  • Organizational readiness

With over 100 years of combined experience, J&M Strategic Consulting knows what it takes to ensure long term success.  We value your time and resources just as much as you do and will create a custom strategy guaranteed to be unique for your business.  J&M has all the tools to assess your company’s readiness to turn the corner.

One of our goals at J&M with every new challenge is to exceed your expectations.  That is why we take the necessary time to perform a complete assessment of your business to discover what is working and where you can improve.  An assessment can be a very useful tool at the change of a fiscal year as our team analyzes your resource management and will provide any recommendations to efficiently complete upcoming projects.  This allows us to construct a roadmap towards success for the upcoming fiscal year, and J&M will start you out on the right foot.

At J&M, we are committed to guiding your team down the right path towards success in the new fiscal year.  Our experienced consultants have all the tools you need to make this transition a smooth one.  Check out what we have done for other businesses on our testimonials page.  We wish you all the best in your next fiscal year.

Location Location Location

 

We’ve all heard that location is critical to a successful business. While this is still true in some industries, most of our jobs can be done remotely. Being able to build a working relationship is more important than sitting in the same building.  In today’s technology driven world, it is cost effective to use online resources to enhance relationships with new and old clients.  J&M believes in the benefits of working with people remotely and creating healthy, long-term business relationships.

No matter the size or type of project, J&M is committed to leveraging its core values to help you succeed.  We want to maximize productivity and over deliver results.  That’s why we take the necessary time to assess all parts of the project.  When working with your business, we ensure that your standards are met and goals are reached.  You likely have multiple assignments ongoing at the same time.  J&M can simplify your business activities by setting a clear path for your entire team on a specific project, completely based on your needs.

Managing a portfolio of multiple projects at one time can make for a hectic workplace and a limited budget.  You may not have complete resources on-site to be able to successfully close out a project, and that’s okay.  J&M will take this into consideration while assessing your needs for the project at hand.  Our experienced consultants can provide you with a convenient off-site plan to please your budget with the same commitment guarantee.  This allows you additional access to resources and connection to a member of our team at the touch of a button.

Here are some of our recent success stories while working off-site with clients:

  • Completely remote
    • J&M upgraded a global network as part of managed services.
  • Remote preparation, on-site execution
    • J&M executed a desktop migration remotely and completed a cutover on-site.
  • Half remote
    • J&M designed an internal rebate web site for a marketing agency.

We have many more examples that we would be happy to discuss. You can see how past clients have reviewed J&M on our Testimonials page.  We are extremely proud of these clients’ views of our company, and some of them originated from remote projects.  In fact, some of our most effective results have spawned from remote work.  We can work with you remotely all the way through a project, or until you request our on-site attention.

Flexible Project Sourcing Model

Jake GoalieIf you have read our blogs or visited our website, you know that hockey is a big part of J&M Strategic Consulting.  Just like a goalie in hockey, flexibility is key to our performance.  Lately, we’ve been having a lot of conversations at J&M about how effective we have been for our clients when we are contracted for on demand project consulting. In as little as 4 or as much as 30 hours per week, we have successfully achieved, no, we have exceeded client expectations.  Effectively sourcing your projects can be the difference between achieving business goals and coming up short.

Here are some examples:

  • strategic reorganization of a state government agency
    • 12 hrs per week project manager
  • upgraded a global network as part of managed services
    • 6 hrs per week project manager
  • prepared for a desktop migration then three weeks on site for cutover
    • 20 hrs per week project manager
  • improved CRM processes for sales
    • 16 hrs per week business analyst
  • tested new government website for seeing impaired
    • 4 hrs per week tester
  • marketing and consumer database assessments
    • 6 hrs per week engagement manager
  • migrate Microsoft Exchange to Office 365 and acquisition infrastructure
    • 30 hrs per week program manager
  • design internal rebate web site for marketing
    • 20 hrs per week business analyst

This is a small sample of custom engagements that provided our clients incredible value for the time and money spent on our services. The Flexible Project Sourcing Model is useful for your business when facing multiple deadlines on several different projects.

As part of J&M’s initial assessment, we will evaluate your project goals and determine the right fit for you.  This will allow us to create a custom strategy specifically for your company.  With over 100 years of combined IT experience, our team has the tools and flexibility needed to establish an effective working relationship with your business.

  • Our agreement will be customized based on your needs, not a 40-hour work week
  • There will be clarity in terms of expectations
  • Most of our resources work remotely, eliminating unnecessary travel expenses

At J&M, we want to do what is best for your business by catering to your needs.  Our Approach details how valued we are with regards to efficiency and workload.  We understand that time and budget are two of your company’s most valuable assets.  J&M will work with you to assess your needs, and establish a partnership based on our Flexible Project Sourcing Model that is both time and cost effective. Allow J&M to deliver the extraordinary service you expect and place your business on a path to success.  See what other clients have said about us here.

 

Have your projects been successful?

 

Many businesses have processes on how to prioritize their projects.  These processes rely on levers like Return on Investment (ROI) to determine where time and resources will be spent.  When initiating a project, it is common for a business to estimate their ROI.  How do you know if that estimation is accurate?  How can ROI be measured as the project progresses?  Once a project is completed, is it important to continue to track its ROI?  Successful businesses input metrics into their portfolios to track ROI even after a project is closed.

Although business metrics help measure success, most project plans do not include metrics.  Most projects are considered successful when they are closed.  Completing a project on time and on budget is great, but the value to the business is just starting.  Continued tracking of metrics will allow a business to measure project success.

Within portfolios, businesses should have plans to not only get the project done, but also keep track of their metrics.  Effective planning will lead to future success.  A business needs to establish metrics in their project plans that are both measurable and meaningful.  Ideally, tracking can be automated.  If not the project manager needs to make sure the measurements are completed.  Periodically, the project manager should report on the metrics post-closure to track ROI.  J&M can help define and measure value of your projects.  Understanding that each project is unique, Our Method explains more about how we approach helping you measure successful projects.  Please visit our Testimonials page to see what our customers say about us.

When a project is completed, it does not mark the end of its life.  Companies should continue to use ROI in prioritization as it is a key factor in lasting success.  At J&M we deliver on our promises.  By including ROI in project estimation, you are making a promise to the business.  Delivering on that promise includes measuring of and reporting on metrics.

Growing Without Compromise

At a recent business leadership meeting, one of the common problems brought up was how to continue to grow while staying true to your values. This is a challenge for any business. In consulting, we see a lot of cultural and geographical differences that make this even more challenging. At J&M Strategic Consulting, we believe that these three steps will support our vision and values as we continue to grow.

  1. Make your Vision and Values personal

The Mission page of our web site, http://jm-strategic-consulting.com/mission.html , lists our Vision and Values. Our Vision represents six qualities that will help us succeed. Our Values are traits to support our Vision. Jen and Mike have talked about the J&M’s Vision and Values for years. In the past few months these were formalized, possibly over a glass of wine, and published on our web site to provide our story and to let everyone know what to expect when working with J&M, either as an employee, a contractor, or as a client.

  1. Make Vision and Values part of your culture

From the moment we first talk to a potential employee they are introduced to our Vision and Values. We talk about them in every status meeting, every employee review, and at the end of every engagement. We have engrained our Vision and Values into our daily activities to the point that they are second nature.

  1. Hold each other accountable

Our employee review forms and our project closure document both contain sections that measure how we perform against our Vision and Values. This is done for both the employee and J&M leadership. If there are grey areas, they are discussed and action plans are developed to make sure we uphold our Vision and Values to the highest standard.

We also evaluate new work against our Vision and Values. If we get job requirements that we don’t feel match our Vision and Values, we simply turn down the work. This has happened at least three time in the past six months. This may sound like a bad business decision, but we feel we will be more successful and our clients will be more satisfied with our work if our Vision and Values are not compromised.