Things you must know about consulting

You want value for your money. Whether we are talking about a new virtual reality headset or a company using consultation. Simple as that. A national debate broke up in Finland in 2013 when the government used 700K+ for a research that apparently delivered nothing but a hangover for the prime minister. Lack of call for tenders seemed to be the biggest creator of public bitterness. Public debate can easily turn into emotional wrestle but there is more to it really. It is important to see where the Euro is being put and why? They say the world is full of consultants but what are they all actually counseling about and for what reasons? One should always bear in mind hiring a professional is not as expensive as an amateur. This wise quote has been well put out by the legendary oil well firefighter pioneer Red Adair.

Considering before the consulting

While consulting has become an industry and more people call themselves consultants, what is your own definition of a good consultant? While the vast majority of consulting projects seem to satisfy the executives, the recent report from Forbes Insight, “Perception Versus Reality: Are You Getting Enough Value from Your Consultants,” suggested different things. 75% of companies choose a company based on rate-based rather than value-based. The consequence after the recessions when companies keep the cutting-cost mindset. Edward Verlander suggested in his book, “The Practice of Professional Consulting” that the pro is the one who can be trusted to use standard consulting methods and procedures, who gives advice and delivers solutions to issues on behalf of clients.

If you really want the value from your investment money, will you choose to work with multiple low-cost or a value-based service? It is only your life and/or company at stake here! On top of that, do not let consulting companies dazzle you with some meaningless presentations and bill you with superficiality work.

Poor consulting is a waste of time. The fundamental thing is understanding the reason for bad consultation. The hardship of information and making the actual change. You are looking for a change to / or something when you hire a consult or when you, as a prestigious and trusted consultant are trying to create rapid miracles. Time is of the essence so you might as well stop wasting time and concentrate on the things that are actually possible to change. High hopes, visions without a scientific background can look attractive on a paper but very seldom do those serve a cause. Nor does the fact that project managers and consultants hold different assumptions (mostly negative) about each other.

Harmonization of the relationship between consultant and manager

Corporate managers often believe that consultants are paid to tell the things they already know, ask awkward questions, and most importantly disappear after giving solutions for managers to implement. At the same time, project managers seem to be rigid and not willing to provide the consultation with enough insight.

Not all consultants are experts as they walk in with rudimentary knowledge. Not all experts make good consultants. Harmonization is needed to clarify the expectations from clients and consultants. This provokes communication between the two parties. Enabling consultants to have the best understanding of the client and thus design the best possible way to work with the client. Meanwhile, the clients can see how the consultants work and interact. This reveals a lot about consultants’ style and value.

The Change

HR Specialist Kalle Honkanen has written with excellence about why the change can be an issue in companies. Using his own professional experience with the help of bestselling authors, brothers Heath opus “Switch”, a five-step model has been created. These steps can be crucial when a consultant sells their services. The main objectives: getting rid of the unclear change and finding the existing goods and duplicating them. Concrete actions mean something else than the banal advice of “live healthier”. What does that even mean? Things that work in a company must not be shadowed completely by the inefficient practices. There you have it. The emphasis of a better change and what is more, with a good consultant who sees this, a real effort can be done. You probably now stopped to think about the other three steps but this article was about two things you need to know. Fairness is a rare species of value nowadays since it does not fit into the concept of competition. Psychological aspects and adapting the intended program to the environment could be the remaining ones, though.

It always comes to the point where customer’s needs and values have to be evaluated. This considers companies trying to understand their segment but is also essential for modern consultants. Cost-effectiveness is not always the case. 30 elements of value is a pyramid model authors Almqvist, Senior and Boch published in a recent Harvard Business Review. Universal building blocks of value open the psychological understanding aspect and this can be crucial. Heavily related to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the 30 elements consist of four bigger value areas: functional, emotional, life changing and social impact. Using the model leads to cross-selling services and helps to grow revenue but also refine the actual product design. This model is also usable in consultant’s work since understanding the psychological aspects thoroughly is beneficial. If progress in every level is wanted, wider thinking and outside the box perspective become increasingly relevant.

You should remember that…

…activating the brain and talking about things face-to-face increase the risk of good consultation and change. Whether you are in the chambers of a call center, outsourcing office or whatever business enterprise. “Visions and ideas” that were written into the research about Finland’s future mentioned earlier did not meet the expectations, one might say. That is, of course, easy to state afterward. Could it also be that the questioners did not perhaps know how to ask the right questions in the first place? Going forward needs research, educated professionals, and fruitful conversations as well. Call a consultant, call a pro.

References:

http://www.kauppalehti.fi/uutiset/kohuraportti-jaadytti-filosofi-pekka-himasenbisnekset/zJFYmGsM
https://parempiote.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/miksi-muutos-ei-onnistu/
https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-elements-of-value
http://www.infodesk.com/consulting-industry/key-trends-in-2016-for-the-consultingindustry
http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesinsights/2015/04/07/north-highlands-ceo-danreardon-on-the-future-of-the-consulting-industry/#3bf1338b2cad
http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/north_highland/index.html

Verlander, Edward G.. The Practice of Professional Consulting (1). Somerset, US: Pfeiffer, 2012. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 30 August 2016.