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At the University of Puget Sound, we strive to be responsible members of our community: The Strategic Consulting Projects are one way we enrich our community as we educate our students.  School of Business and Leadership seniors enrolled in our Strategic Management and Consulting Senior Research Seminar work with local businesses and non-profits as consultants to create effective strategies. Research-based strategic recommendations are accompanied by implementation plans and methods to assess the effectiveness of the strategy.

While the consulting projects are learning experiences for our seniors in Business and Leadership, we hope to add value to your organization, helping you be more successful.  Client feedback reveals that working with student teams improves organizations in meaningful ways. The student reflections from past semesters clearly indicate that helping a real organization become more successful is one of the most rewarding experiences of their college careers.  Win-Win in Action: The project benefits your organization and strengthens the students’ work experience and confidence.  We appreciate your active participation in this project and look forward to assisting you in moving forward.

This document and intake form provides you with more information about the process, timeline and expectations. Potential client organizations will be contacted prior to beginning a new semester. Clients then meet with Professor Lynnette Claire to discuss whether a project may be defined that will be beneficial to your organization and the students.

The next projects begin in September 2020. You may complete this form at any point between now and then. For first consideration, please complete this information by July 1, 2020.

Note: You may wish to read through this document all the way before answering the questions.

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* 1. If you participate in the Strategic Consulting Project, can you commit to being an active participant?

Student Background

The student consultants are seniors in the School of Business and Leadership. While there are three slightly different majors in the school, all of the students have taken courses in accounting, finance, marketing, management, law and ethics, statistics and economics. They have also taken advanced electives in the school; each student will have a deeper knowledge in a specific area of business. The students are not experts in any of the functional areas: The University of Puget Sound is a liberal arts institution, which means that we focus on a broad education that emphasizes critical thinking, research and communication.

Approach to Consulting

Professor Lynnette Claire teaches the course and, in essence, runs a small consulting firm with new employees each semester. She values research-based assessment of your organization and its environment. She believes in radical honesty, respectful interaction, and clear and timely communication. She believes in strategies, implementation plans, and assessment measures rooted in research. She pushes her students to invest in your organization and do their best work. She cannot do this without feedback and cooperation from you. If your team of students (usually three) is not meeting your expectations, she asks that you contact her at lclaire@pugetsound.edu or 253-879-3576.

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* 2. If you participate in the Strategic Consulting Project, do you agree to be honest with students and Professor Claire, act respectfully, and engage in clear and timely communication?


Students sign confidentiality agreements regarding their client organizations and all the organizations studied during the term. Strong classroom norms are developed surrounding the importance of ensuring confidentiality. If there are things you share with your team that you are not comfortable having the team share with the larger classroom community, please let them know that.

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* 3. Are you willing to share all information about your organization, including financial data, with your team?

One of the lessons these projects try to teach is that all the disciplines (marketing, accounting, etc.) are intertwined.  The students cannot create an effective marketing strategy for your organization if they do not understand the budgetary constraints.  Information you need to share (if you have them) include your business plan, your financial statements for the past three years, product/service and marketing information, and growth plans. You may have other data that will be useful.

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* 4. What organizational data do you have to share with your team of student consultants?

For many projects, students have no prior knowledge of your industry. Please do not play the what-can-you-find game. These projects should be moving your company forward, so share your knowledge—particularly of industry organizations and trade publications--that may provide valuable data and help your students learn quickly.

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* 5. What resources do you have that will enable students to learn about your industry as quickly as possible?

You are expected to meet weekly with your team. Most meetings will take one hour, though you may have a couple of longer meetings at the beginning and a couple of shorter meetings in the middle. Meeting weekly helps keep you informed and your team focused. Students are expected to come to your place of business for the meeting.

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* 6. Will you meet with you students every week?

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* 7. How do you prefer to communicate? Please rank.

Please communicate in a timely fashion. Let your team know that you received their request or information right away. Please try to provide them with answers to their questions within four days. If communication has become too frequent or if you feel the requests would be better in written form, let them know.

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* 8. Please enter your contact information below.

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* 9. Will you be the primary contact for the students during this project?

The student consultants work with organizations to create successful strategies.  For many businesses, this means helping them become more profitable.  Not all organizations, however, have the same goals.  Be clear with your team about how you measure success for your organization and what outcomes you wish to achieve.

Feedback from you is essential. Professor Claire's role is to coach her students and to provide support. She cannot do this as effectively without your feedback. At the end, she will listen to your overall assessment of the project and ask you to provide a grade. Professor Claire’s standards are that a B is what is expected of business seniors working on their first consulting project. C’s are appropriate for projects that were not a waste of time but did not meet your expectations. D’s and F’s are projects that were a waste of time, involved a disrespectful team of students, or were wildly off base. Professor Claire needs to know if a project is headed down the D and F paths (or even C) as strongly worded conversations seem to be quite effective. A’s are reserved for projects that exceed your expectations—projects you’d be willing to pay for. The grade you assign will become 10% of the students’ final grade for the project. Your feedback provides input for other portions of the grade as well. (contact: lclaire@pugetsound.edu, 253-879-3576)

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* 10. Do you have any questions about assessment?

Final Presentation

Though the students work with you throughout the semester, a final presentation is required. This is an opportunity for you to be reminded of the process and reasons for the strategies, learn more about implementation and assessment, and ask final questions. This is also an opportunity to share the work with your team and stakeholders. Think about who you would like to be present at the final presentation. Some organizations choose to have only the owner/manager present, others include employees, others include investors or other stakeholders. It is your choice about who to include. We can provide a meeting space to accommodate your presentation or you may have it at another location. In most cases, you will want to block two hours on your calendar so that any questions that arise can be answered.

Please schedule your final presentation well in advance. At a minimum, we are coordinating the schedules of the students (three), Prof. Claire, and at least one person from your organization. The students will initiate the conversation, but if you have some dates in mind, it is helpful to know these (for instance, presenting at a board meeting for a non-profit). Fall presentations take place between mid-November and early December (for fall 2020, presentations will take place the week of November 16th); Spring presentations take place between mid-April and early May.

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* 11. Do you have any dates for final presentations that we need to work around?

Although the students work for free, more successful projects result when the clients treat the students the same way they would treat paid professionals: Be transparent. Communicate clearly. Have high expectations. Be clear when you are not pleased with the direction the work is going.  Go over their heads when needed. Students appreciate a card and a token of appreciation at the end, but it is not required.

Timeline for Projects
Task                                                                                                                Fall Term                            Spring Term

Students receive team assignments.                                                     first week of Sept             third week of Jan
Students write case about your organization, which includes
        detailed research and analysis about your internal and
        external environments.  Students lead class discussion.           end of Sept-mid Oct        mid Feb-early Mar
Draft reports written.  Prof. Claire provides feedback.                       early Nov                            mid Apr
Students present recommendations in written and oral forms         mid Nov                             mid Apr-early May
Feedback to Prof. Claire from you                                                           early-mid Dec                   early-mid May

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* 12. Are you interested in being considered as a client for a Strategic Consulting Project at the University of Puget Sound?

If you are interested in participating, please think of your strategic questions and issues. Past projects range from general strategic questions such as "analyze my organization and propose the most effective areas for improvement" to specific questions such as "of these alternatives, which is the best to pursue given my desired outcomes?". You will have an opportunity to refine your questions when you meet with Professor Claire.

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* 13. Do you currently have any strategic questions that would benefit from examination by a team of students?

Thank you for your interest in the University of Puget Sound's Strategic Consulting Projects. Professor Lynnette Claire will contact you before the start of the next term (fall 2020) to discuss the projects in more detail and ensure that the information you provided is still accurate. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to her at lclaire@pugetsound.edu.

Thank you--and we look forward to working with you.