Consulting is about people

By | December 10, 2014

Professional services is about people.  That should come as no surprise, of course. Clients pay our salary. There is no real “equipment” that we are operating. It’s just a lot of smart people, trusting each other, and working together. Simple.

Yes, we do quick, smart research. Yes, we can whip bad data into meaningful analyses.  Yes, we can logically structure problems, and tell a story in PowerPoint. Yes, we can explain what a regression analysis is. Yes, we know the difference between a median, mode, and a mean. . . . that is not what makes us consultants. Our ability to make the complex simple, and drive decision making and action. That is why we are paid better than average. We help leaders make change.  We move them forward.

People = miscommunication.  ot to get too metaphysical, spiritual or religious, but people are fallible. Seriously, fallible. Distrust, cynicism, prejudice, arrogance, and timidity are just some of the poor behaviors consultants see in the corporate world. All these negatives lead to miscommunication, confusion, and wasted effort.

I have written about the importance of clear communication, meeting minutes, and managing project scope.  Consultants tend to excel at this, while clients do not.  If clients would set a direction, trust each other, and communication, the size of the management consulting industry would shrink by 50%.  Not scientific, but true.

Crashing wave

Build trust. Today, I was putting out client fires. Some of it was self-inflicted, some of it was the client. All of it has to do with miscommunication and a lack of trust. Thinking back on what I might have done differently:

  • Get the right people on board early
  • Don’t accept the easy answer of “we don’t have the data”
  • Circulate more, see who else is out there. . who might have the answer
  • Don’t play the politics game, at all

Glad to meet good people.  Lots of good people on the client side.  More than once over the last week, I have said things like:

  • Thanks for being open-minded
  • Appreciate your support and advocacy
  • Yes, I want to make you successful
  • Let’s not let small differences prevent decision-making

Invest in your team and the client.  This project I gave presents of 2 books to clients. Oddly, I actually received one back.  I am convinced, consulting is just smart people, trusting each other, and working together.  Have a great Friday.

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One thought on “Consulting is about people

  1. lewsauder

    Excellent points. I’ve had many conversations with fellow consultants in which we talk in disbelief of the distrust, politics and lack of teamwork at various clients. We always end with the comment that if they were more efficient, they wouldn’t need consultants.

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