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Fixing Consulting: Making Consulting Accessible and Effective Again

perspective Feb 26, 2022

Let me start by admitting to my heavy bias: I'm a big fan of consulting. Not only do I believe consulting done right can have tremendous benefits for the client. Furthermore I thoroughly enjoy the role of coming in, helping fix the problem, and see the team take off to success.

My problem with the state of consulting is the way it too often plays out in reality: the consulting project is set up bigger than it would need to be. Since it's bigger it is made more expensive and longer which leads to a pressure to inflate results as well as scope of recommendations, which in turn makes it harder to implement, creating a new problem that the client is taxed with.

The problems stem mainly from legacy structures

Cause #1: Organising people creates overhead. This overhead needs to be paid, leading to a pressure to make the project bigger to put more people on it.

Cause #2: Consultants are mostly paid for their time which leads to misaligned incentives as the consultant is only retained if there is continuous need for them.

This leads to the above-mentioned phenomenon of inflated projects. Which in turn makes consulting ineffective for larger organisations and inaccessible for small ventures.

Consulting can be a powerful & highly effective tool.

If we can fix the inefficiencies inherent to the current state of consulting, we can deploy consulting as the tool it can be.

  • Unbiased outside perspective to uncover blindspots

  • Specialist knowledge & methodology to remove roadblocks

  • Targeted intervention to move the needle

  • Temporary injection of needed relief

  • Level up the organisation or individuals who carry the weight

I am convinced that there is a way to reap the benefits of outside consulting and make it accessible to those who benefit most from it!

Here are the three main changes I want to champion:

Change 1: Unbundle inflated retainers to allow targeted deployment

Old way: Find more problems that could be put together in a big project so that it's worth employing outside consulting.

Better way: Isolate the specific problem that needs to be solved and work on its targeted solution.

Change 2: Help to solve the problem instead of "doing it for them"

Old way: Put a team on the problem, work on it for 6 weeks, and then report back what to do. (I've seen consulting firms build entire side organisations to continuously "consult" on a problem for a client)

Better way: Iteratively work with the internal team or leader until the problem is solved.

Change 3: Make expertise & methodologies available for small business!

Old way: Only companies able to pay for in-person consulting can afford external help.

Better way: Democratise expertise & methodologies via technology-based offerings.

I strongly believe that we can create so much more progress with what is available in knowledge and expertise, if we solve the inefficiencies of distribution inherent to old structural limitations.
Please feel invited to add to the conversation, share your concerns or thoughts, and let's chase progress together!


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