Management Consultants must be Problem Solvers
Management consultants deliver reports. But do they deliver results?
Management consultants are a cost to clients. Each should aim to become an asset for the client.
These are the fractured equations that mar client-consultant relationships. In the process, clients become cynical about consultants because most of the executed assignments in India fail to deliver tangible results.
These are my views. There are many lessons I have learned over the past four decades, initially as a pure management consultant, and subsequently as a quality management facilitator.
Solving the wrong problem
How often have you discovered that what you have solved and what the client had in mind are very divergent?
The problem is that we do not invest adequate time to understand the stated as well as latent needs of clients. We need to have a clear understanding of:
- What are the symptoms of the problem?
- How do these symptoms impact management performance?
- Are these symptoms: Specific? Observable? Measurable?
- Is the problem of a size that is manageable by third party consultant?
Only hearing. Not listening
Consultants need to ask questions. Clients need to listen. Clients need to ask questions. Consultants need to listen.
Only when the listening bridge is successful, can the communication be clear. But this does not always happen.
The communication skill of listening has never been taught. In school we are taught seeing, reading, speaking, writing, hearing…but not listening!
Listening comes in two avatars: sympathetic listening and empathetic listening. In sympathetic listening I can agree even though I do not understand. In empathetic listening I first seek to understand and may subsequently choose to disagree.
Consultants must learn the art of empathetic listening.
Considering root cause identification as the end of an assignment
A problem is solved only when the remedy is implemented and results recur. Unfortunately, most consulting assignments end when the root causes have been established.
So we generate reports. We also generate supplements to these reports. We sprinkle terms and charts that are trendy. In the process we ensure that nobody understands the final report. Then we make PowerPoint presentations to upper management of the client who are far removed from the original problem.
The report gathers dust. There are no results. The consultant loses a reputation.
Ignore resistance to change
Change is simple when it involves machines and systems. Change is a problem when it involves people.
The stated reason for resistance to change by an individual is usually the impracticality of the technological solution.
However, riding on the back of the stated resistance to the technological change is an uninvited guest…the social consequence of the technological change, on the individual. The social consequence is not stated or obvious. It has to be understood by the consultant using empathetic listening skills, individual by individual.
A consultant cannot ignore the resistance. The consultant must define the resistance and deal with it.
Change has its own majestic pace. The consultant must be seasoned for that.
How to succeed?
To achieve results on an assignment, the consultant must be a facilitator, trainer, coach, counselor, and recognizer.
*The MADE IN INDIA tiger is Qimpro’s creative representation of the idea behind becoming a manufacturing behemoth in the global markets. Any resemblance to any other logo, is purely unintentional.