Business as Usual or Unusual? Fixer or Realiser or Provoker?
To start, this is a newsletter for everyone who wants to know the remedies for two root causes of consulting / professional advisory projects being described as “bad” as opposed to “good” projects.
To end, I have two ‘wanted’ requests followed by two appeals for help.
Please note that for clarity, I shall only use the “consultant” and “consulting” terms from here on … please feel free to substitute with “professional advisor” and “advisory”.
Usual or Unusual? | Fixer or Realiser or Provoker?
What causes good and bad consultant stories to be told, and mostly the latter? Let me focus on two of the less obvious root causes, share them with you, and set out the remedies. But first … a reality check.
If I was to ask a group of ten executives to tell a good consultant story only two would immediately recall one. The other eight would hesitate and then more easily recollect a bad story than a good one. Clearly if this 2:8 good:bad result was a true reflection of the consulting world then it would have ended years ago, and it hasn’t … despite the efforts of both sides to bring it to an end (… in some eyes anyway)!
Root cause #1, is Business as Usual or Unusual? This is right in the buyer’s domain.
Does the buyer simply want a project which continues business as usual. Perhaps a tweak here and a tweak there … a new level … a new norm … more of an evolution than a revolution. There’s nothing wrong with these objectives, nothing at all.
Or does the buyer want a project that rocks the boat … dislocates the competitive landscape … breaks the sound barrier … more of a revolution than an evolution. This is business as unusual, because life is never going to be the same again. Again, nothing wrong with these objectives, nothing at all.
So, clearly, everything is right with each set of objectives … but wait, there’s more! … the very fact that objectives have been set for a consulting project is what is truly right. Because too often it’s this last part which is missing from the buying equation. A consultant wants a buyer’s brief to kick-off the conversation. But that’s rare and in at least 90 times out of 100, the consultant has to develop the brief. But what’s missing in at least 95 out of 100 briefs, maybe 96 or more, are the all-important project objectives.
Remedy #1 – define the project objectives, making sure that they are; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time limited.
Root cause #2, concerns the style of the consultant – Fixer or Realiser or Provoker – an issue which sits in both domains … as the buyer must be clear on the required style … and the consultant must know which style/s play to their strengths. And for the consultant this could embrace all three, but I insist that they be ranked.
Classically consultants have been associated with fixing things. Every day I read new content which concentrates on problems. Some of the negativity drives me nuts (and I am a glass half full person!) … how about you? It seems that the world has an infinite number of problems needing solutions. So, the Fixer is a consultant style which is clearly needed.
But what about more positive things? Realising those latent business opportunities which might need a consultant to finesse, to facilitate, to shape, to bring out into the open. In my view the Realiser is a much needed consultant style.
Finally, provoking, a practice I initially linked with emerging developments in entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial innovation. I couldn’t work out why some businesses weren’t grasping this topic area with both hands and wringing every last innovative drop out of it. And then the penny dropped … business needs to be provoked to act … and the authors of these innovations weren’t really doing that. Hence, space was created for the Provoker consultant style.
Remedy #2 – buyers, please be clear on the style needed – consultants, please be clear on your style/s and how they rank.
Permit me to segue to FindaConsultant a free online service matching businesses with consultants. One of the main benefits of our service is that consultants have been screened, vetted and reference-checked in advance. Our aim is to reduce risk for clients when they are engaging a consultant for the first time.
Click ‘your’ link: Buyer Consultant
Sydneysiders … please let me know if you have any connection with a local business school, other than MGSM. Why do I ask? Because, I am looking for a new home for my ‘Consulting as a career … is it for you?’ workshop for MBA and PhD students.
Sydneysiders (again!) … please let me know if you if you have any connection with a local outplacement enterprise, other than The Donington Group. Why do I ask? Because, I am looking for a new home for my ‘Consulting and starting your own consulting business’ lunch & learn for executives in outplacement programs.
If you are member of the Australian Institute of Management, then please let me know as I may need your support. Briefly, AIM removed a member benefit – access to Avention (previously OneSource) business information – without consultation beforehand or communication afterwards. By my reckoning it costs between A$1 and A$3 per member per year. I have started a solo campaign to get it reinstated, but that may not be until early 2016 due to their restrictive budgeting process. So I may need some help.
PI & PL insurances
If you have Professional Indemnity and/or Public Liability insurances then please help me give Andrew Bremner, Sherpa Insurance, a hand. Briefly, Andrew has come up with a disruptive model, which has significantly reduced the costs of these all important insurances. Can you please ‘Get An Instant Quote’ and let Andrew know how it compares with your current arrangements via the Contact form … thank you.