Once you understand what is going on in the mind of a Consultant, it becomes a lot easier to make sense of what they are doing and why. So why not take a moment and come step inside a Consultants brain (don’t worry, it’s a bright and fun place to spend some time).
Editor’s Note: The definition of a consultant used here is more clearly explained in a past blog, Consulting as a Profession, as there are many people claiming to be ‘consultants’ in today’s gig world.
Consultants work with client companies to solve specific business challenges. This is their “value-add” and their entire reason for “being”.
Typically, companies hire Consultants for three main reasons:
A company may hire consultants to provide a skill-set, that they don’t have internally.
A company may have the expertise to create a solution but could be lacking the person-power to finish the work within a required timeframe.
A company may also hire consultants, in order to bring-in an objective third-party opinion or experience, ideas, and insights from outside the organization. Bringing in an outside opinion can provide valuable perspective on the business and empower leadership to make better decisions.
This often means their projects fits into one of two “buckets”:
This is when a Consultant is hired to advise their client on things such as company strategy, market conditions, or operational dynamics within specific industries.
An implementation project can be an add-on to an advisory project. For example, after analyzing data, a Consultant may recommend some specific actions. If their client doesn’t have the resources or capabilities required to do this, they may hire the same or different Consultants to implement these recommendations.
Knowing this helps explain why Consultants consistently focus on what the specific challenge or challenges are they have been brought in to look at, what they have been asked to do (advise, implement, etc.) or “bring to the table” (resources, expertise, experience, etc.), what the client wants, and the budget and deadlines involved with successful project delivery: they want to ensure they are always adding value!
One of the first thing a Consultant typically does when starting a project is create a ‘data-request’ (a long, long, long, list of documents, reports, numbers, and other relevant information) for the client. They also ask A LOT of questions.
Why do they do this and why are they like this?
Well, one of the worst things a Consultant can do is “shoot from the hip” … they respect that many of the people within their client’s organization have a significant amount of knowledge and experience built over many years, and understand that people from the outside who don’t take the time to analyze and understand the situation and organization have the tendency to say and do stupid things!
This is why they hate to assume anything (they want to build trust with the client in both themselves and the process) and why Consultants are typically curious people, why they love to consume all that data, and why they consistently want your input … their brains crave information so they can build a strong fact-base, quickly, and be as informed as possible, so that they can effectively collaborate with all their client’s people, to help answer the questions and issues they’ve been asked to look at!
With all that data and information sloshing around, a Consultants mind needs to be organized: that’s why they love building and applying structures and frameworks!
After reaching their findings and forming recommendations, Consultants typically have to present them to their clients.
It’s important to them that they make their presentations as clear, interesting, and insightful as possible, so they live by the old adage that “a picture paints a thousand words”.
This explains why Consultants are often “PowerPoint Ninja’s” (they want you to get the full benefit of their work), are constantly drawing pictures, and can have strong attachments to their flip-charts, whiteboards, and colored markers!
Consultants live to make a difference: permanently improving organizational effectiveness and performance over the long-term is why they get up in the morning.
In the mind of a Consultant, the worst thing that can possibly happen is that all their hard work goes to waste and is not implemented.
This is why they spend a lot of time building relationships, why they focus on building consensus and commitment around their recommendations, and why they love to facilitate client learning (that is, teaching clients how to resolve similar problems in the future) … they want their work to be used and implemented, and they want their clients to be able to do what is needed for them and their company to be successful!
Now that you understand what goes on inside the mind of a Consultant, and what makes them tick, do you think you might benefit from the help one of them could bring to your company? If so, why not give Core Catalysts a call!
– Mark Jacobs, Client Service & Delivery