People sometimes ask me, “Why do companies hire consultants like you?”
There are many reasons, but the one I most often point to when answering why companies hire (and get high returns on their investment from) consultants is this: because they want, like, or need an external perspective.
Think about it like this: you know how sometimes, when you’re dealing with an issue in your life that you’re trying to solve but feel too close to or can’t quite get your head around, you turn to friends and family for their thoughts, opinions, and insights? Companies sometimes need this too!
A good consultant, like a good friend, doesn’t just answer the questions you ask them: they have your best interests at heart, so they also push to make sure the real issues are identified and understood.
And a good consultant, just like a good friend, wants and values a long-term relationship, and believes that, ultimately, what is good for you will be good for them.
And, just like a good friend, a good consultant doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear.
How do they do that?
#1. They will bring deep analytical skills to your problem
If much of your initial attempts at problem solving have hit a wall of ‘gut-feel’ and ‘instincts’ versus data driven insights, this can be important and helpful: rather than relying on opinion, perceived wisdom, hypotheses, frequently repeated anecdotes, or experience from a time when things were very different, a good consultant will try to build a fact base by crunching through the large amounts of available data to identify patterns, root causes, and opportunities. Logical conclusions drawn from this data will then underpin their recommendations.
#2. They will bring objectivity to the situation
A good consultant, who is invested in your success, knows that you are relying on them to stay objective and go where the data leads them. Therefore, without a dog in the fight, they can be detached from any ‘politics’ or history, and unencumbered by emotional attachments, misaligned incentives, or group-think that could be biasing internal viewpoints and perspectives. This means they can be honest and, if necessary, deliver any bad news without the same fear of being outspoken, an outlier, or of what the personal consequences might be …
This doesn’t mean good consultants are heartless: good consultants are ‘hard-headed’ but ‘soft-hearted’, meaning they want to do what is best for you, the client, but are also mindful of the potential impacts. This means they operate with a genuine sense of compassion, but know that ultimately, maintaining objectivity and relying on data and facts in the face of tough decisions that could negatively affect some people is usually the right thing to do for the majority of the people in an organization, and that everyone wants and deserves respect, dignity, and, above all, the truth.
# 3. They will have a deep sense of accountability
Many consultants say that their job is to get results. But most of the time this means identifying what the client needs to do to get results. In other words, most consultants take accountability for the quality of their recommendations, but not for their implementation, believing that this is the client’s job.
Great consultants, like great friends, will partner with you and be your ‘accountability-buddy’, committed to helping you achieve results from start-to-finish, end-to-end, problem identification to strategy development to execution.
In today’s world, consultants having specialized skills, deep expertise, and relevant experience is table stakes.
If you think you might benefit from an external perspective, and want a consulting partner who will bring deep analytical skills, objectivity, and a deep sense of accountability, why don’t you give us a call today?
– Mark Jacobs, Client Service & Delivery