A CONSULTANT’S INTROSPECTION IS RETROSPECTION

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Submitted: August 07, 2018

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Submitted: August 07, 2018

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Do consultants really work? Or are they really helpful to client-companies?

Some think consultants are waste. To reduce this waste, clients need a better understanding of what consulting assignments can accomplish and help companies?

Even in sometimes, clients need to ask consultants more questions directly before they heir them, who in turn must learn to satisfy expanded expectations of clients.

A kind of norm rumored in the market that when companies hire consultants; company’s intention is cutting costs rather than boosting growth. But remember, not all consultants assist equally.

This article is started with nostalgia from way back from 1985-90 and produces some essence.  During those years, competition among companies was growing, and clients were becoming pickier. I acted as solo-consultant for those small companies, they are nowhere to go. Of course, in the beginning, I was zapped, poked and prodded but I stood steadfastly.

Out of my research on effective consulting through interviews with clients, client’s silent partners, company’s executive and office staff of many well-known big firms and many SMEs, I could able to come to a vague conclusion.

This article also stalked from my experience supervising beginning consultants and from many conversations and associations, I’ve had with consultants and clients in the past and present.

These experiences led me to propose a means of clarifying the purposes of management consulting and clarity about the purpose of hiring consultants, whether such need really exists for the companies or not, is my bread and butter of this article.

Even today, when spells are good, the spells provides opportunities, and are very, very good for consultants. The work is sunnier for consultants.  But when times and spells are bad, they are unpleasant. Companies deferred plans during the recession are dusting them off and looking for help.

From then to now, strategy consulting, the most famous variety is one and this is also the most controversial. Many firms share this harsh view of the highly paid advisers who walk in and tell them to re-invent their businesses. This gamut is bullshit.

But, I have forecasted that consulting on more mundane work would be booming in operations-management gamut during t1985-90s.

One reason for my prediction was rapid growth in emerging markets like India and paucity of skilled people. So, solo and small-time consultants could grab a larger share of “downstream” work. In short, consulting was looking less like a license to print money and more like temporary labor. But survival was more important than being vacant.

But time has been changed ever since Indian economy was picked up, so do the ideas in hiring consultants. Now hiring is based on the hierarchy of purposes and prioritizing the essential one.

Management consulting includes a broad range of activities, and the many firms often define these practices quite differently. One way to categorize the activities is in terms of the professional’s area of expertise (such as competitive analysis, corporate strategy, operations management, or human resources). But in practice, as many differences exist within these categories as between them never existed in earlier. All are rope-walking gamut.

Another approach is to view the process as a sequence of phases—entry, contracting, diagnosis, data collection, feedback, implementation, and so on. However, these phases are usually less discrete than most consultants admit.

Do companies pay much of their money for impractical data and poorly implemented recommendations?

Perhaps a more useful way of analyzing the process is to consider its purposes; clarity about goals certainly influences an engagement’s success. Here are consulting’s eight fundamental objectives, arranged hierarchically.

  1. Providing information to a client.
  2. Solving a client’s problems.
  3. Making a diagnosis, which may necessitate a redefinition of the problem?
  4. Making recommendations based on the diagnosis.
  5. Assisting with implementation of recommended solutions.
  6. Building a consensus and commitment around the corrective action.
  7. Facilitating client learning—that is, teaching clients how to resolve similar problems in the future.
  8. Permanently improving organizational effectiveness.

REALITY-CHEK:

Many consultants, however, aspire to a higher stage on the pyramid than most of their engagements achieve.

Purposes 1 through 5 are generally measured and genuine functions, though some controversy surrounds purpose 5.

Management consultants are less likely to address purposes 6 through 8 explicitly, and their clients are not as likely to request them.

Goals 6 through 8 are best-considered by-products of earlier purposes, not additional objectives that become relevant only when the other purposes have been achieved.

Moving up the pyramid toward more ambitious purposes requires increasing sophistication and skill in the processes of consulting and in managing the consultant-client relationship. Sometimes a professional tries to shift the purpose of an engagement even though a shift is not called for; the firm may have lost track of the line between what’s best for the client and what’s best for the consultant’s business.

But reputable consultants do not usually try to prolong engagements or enlarge their scope. Wherever on the pyramid, the relationship starts, the outsider’s first job is to address the purpose the client requests. As the need arises, both parties may agree to move to other goals.

I have fully-fledged to top through believing and rendering the best of my services to the utmost need of anguished companies. I had believed and served with one intention when SMEs need my services, I should be there and for such things, I was ready to clear my calendar and appointments. I was doing both helping and enabling SMEs.I always played the professional vérité straight and right down the line. So, it was how I built my career success.

Solving Problems

Managers often give consultants difficult problems to solve. For example, a client might wish to know whether to make or buy a component, acquire or divest a line of business, or change a marketing strategy. Or management may ask how to restructure the organization to be able to adapt more readily to change; which financial policies to adopt; or what the most practical solution is for a problem in compensation, morale, efficiency, internal communication, control, management succession, or whatever.

Seeking solutions to problems of this sort is certainly a legitimate function. But the consultant also has a professional responsibility to ask whether the problem as posed is what most needs solving. Very often the client needs help most in defining the real issue; indeed, some authorities argue that executives who can accurately determine the roots of their troubles do not need management consultants at all. Thus the consultant’s first job is to explore the context of the problem. To do so, he or she might ask:

  • Which solutions have been attempted by the consultant in the past, and what are results?
  • What untried steps toward a solution does the client have in mind?
  • Which related aspects of the client’s business are not going well?
  • If the problem is “solved,” how will the solution be applied?
  • What can be done to ensure that the solution wins wide acceptance?

A management consultant should neither reject nor accept the client’s initial description too readily. Suppose the problem is presented as low morale and poor performance in the hourly work-force. The consultant who buys this definition of faith might spend a lot of time studying symptoms without ever uncovering causes. On the other hand, a consultant who too quickly rejects this way of describing the problem will end a potentially useful consulting process before it begins.

Talking of myself, where do I stand?

As a consultant, I investigate, advocate, persuade management and most importantly if it is necessary, I may fight to win and make my client-company come out with flying colors.

I am more interested in a partner-track position with SMEs rather than work on independently and incessantly.

A consultant should always help himself to construct a memory of old case studies to analyze the present working assignment.


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