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What do consultants actually do? 💼
Time to answer the million-dollar question
This week’s insights are taken from Bob Nelson’s Consulting For Dummies. If you’re looking to take the leap into consulting, it’s a good book to start!
What do consultants actually do?
Think about it this way:
You are a successful writer. You’ve written for many columns in newspapers and magazines, published your own books, and made a living out of your flair for words.
Because of this, people like calling you to ask for help in their writing projects. You take up the job: offering advice, helping in the technical stuff, and making sure things are going in the right direction. Then, in exchange for your expertise, they pay you for your service.
This is what consultants do: selling their expertise for a fee.
Generally, it boils down to six things:
Listen — what is happening and what do the clients want?
“Listening is one way to get a sense of the symptoms of what’s wrong with an organization.”
Consultants are hired to solve a problem, and in order to do that, they must first understand what is happening on the table.
Listening to what the clients want, asking the right questions, and listening to the answers are often the first things consultants must do to get a grip of the situation.
Investigate — what has gone wrong and why?
“Investigation leads consultants to the people, information, and data that they need to properly analyze a problem.”
The advantage of having a consultant is getting a fresh perspective from outside your organization. Problem-solving starts with recognizing why the problem exists in the first place, seeing it in a new, unbiased light.
Analyze — based on the data, what are the causes of your client’s problem?
For example, by listening to a company’s chief operations about their recent new product launching, a consultant learns that the company is yet to reach the break-even point. The consultant then needs to analyze the data to figure out why the break-even point hasn’t been reached.
Recommend — what can the client do to resolve the problem?
The core of the job boils down to this: making a set of recommendations for the company as to what they could do to solve their problem or improve their operations.
“This is, ultimately, what clients pay consultants the big bucks for: to make recommendations that improve the organization, the process, the operation, or whatever they have been asked to work on.”
Catalyze change — advocate the client’s organization
“Sometimes a long-established organization needs a gentle (or not so gentle) push from an outsider to jump outside its well-worn ruts.”
Being a consultant often entails the role of advocate. Having analyzed the data and made a set of recommended course of actions, the consultants may find themselves urging the implementation, pushing for new ways of doing business, and so on.
Implement — put the recommendations to work
“Being involved in the implementation of recommendations is good because the consultants get to see the fruits of their labor.”
After devising the recommendations, it is expected for the consultants to help in the implementation. The advantage of being a consultant is that you remain an external party, separate from the internal conflicts and politics, which is good for providing unbiased opinions along the way!
Now that you know what consultants actually do, does it sound like a career path you’re interested in? Why or why not?
(You might want to check out the benefits of joining a student-led consultancy here!)
Thank you for reading with us, and we’ll see you next week 👋