Who had to work with consulting organizations, I understand. A frequent situation: in your organization there was some serious problem, you have been struggling for several months over its decision, internal resources are exhausted – and now you are applying for help to an authoritative consulting company. Here the problem itself and the field of your activity in which it arose are not so important – the principle is important.
First of all, the consultants conduct an audit and find out the origins of your problem. As a rule, on this stretch of work, there are no special questions. Further, a plan of measures to solve the problem is developed, the consultant gets his money and leaves. And you are left alone with the plan he developed. And this is where the most interesting begins.
Because part of the measures from the plan to implement simply does not work, the other part as a result of the introduction magically changes beyond recognition, and what remains is the effect is so miserable that it does not pay off the money spent on consulting. It is not surprising that most managers resort to the services of consultants only once – the first, is the last. Why is this happening?
Reason # 1 – Theory instead of practice
Very often, pure theoreticians work as professional consultants. That is, a person can really know a lot about business, have MBA degrees and a lot of authoritative regalia. But if he does not have a serious experience in real business – alas! Grosh price to him as a consultant. Because theory is one thing, and practice is quite another. And it is still necessary to apply theories in practice, it is not even a science, but rather an art, since it lends itself to formalization, requires an individual approach in each individual case, and for Western theories, it also adapts to realities.
Reason # 2 – Intrusion errors
The consultant can be very literate, and with experience in real business, and all his recommendations are pure gold. But. Even the most correct recommendations still need to be able to implement. And actually implementation is a separate story. Which and the banal semantic barrier, when the consultant, giving recommendations, had one thing in mind, and you, when reading his recommendations, understand something completely different. And the resistance of employees to changes, the more than these changes are more significant. And about the inertia of the system. And even just about laziness – here the necessary regulations have not been made, – Why? You can do without it, there are a little “polished” to fit into the existing system more conveniently, they corrected it, because it is painfully laborious … but no one knows how to write such a report. So it turns out that from a harmonious and interconnected system,
Reason # 3 – Mistrust
Strange as it may seem, the third most frequent cause of bad experience with consultants is … distrust. You are afraid to trust some important information for your organization to an outside person – it can concern some not quite beautiful nuances in your relationships with clients or employees, or your relations with the legislation … – not so important. The important thing is that this information can be key to understanding the work of your system, and without it, the “diagnosis” of the consultant will be known to be incorrect – as if you have hidden from the doctor some of the symptoms of your disease. A wrong diagnosis entails an incorrectly prescribed treatment. And the consultant’s guilt, here, in general, no.
The other side of distrust is the fear of implementing some cardinal advice that entails global changes in your business, or requiring very serious investments – those after implementation of which you will not be able to “roll back” in case of failure. And again we get a “stripped down” version of the implementation of the system, which will not work, or it will not be as good as expected.
So – Consulting is not needed?
Consulting is needed! In some situations, the services of consultants simply cannot be avoided. This applies, in the first place, to situations in which serious changes have taken place in the organization, but it is not entirely clear in what direction to move – where is the very “golden bottom” – and what resources the organization can attract for this. To see the hidden reserves of the organization and unobvious “points of growth” is possible only from the outside – otherwise these resources would not be either hidden or unobvious for you. As our practice shows, in the organization “frozen” in this way there are up to 70% of its potential.
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In general, the services of consultants are extremely useful in all cases when an independent objective view is required from outside: however smart and talented the leaders of the organization are, they are cooked inside, in the boiler of habitual situations and problems, and the solution often lies on the surface, point of view. If there is a problem in your organization, a long question that needs to be addressed, if you do not develop the way you want, while the internal means for solving it are already exhausted or the answer is not obvious – it makes sense to consult a consultant.
The rapid growth of the organization, always associated with the loss of manageability – is another reason to turn to consulting services. Of course, you can somehow manage without them. However, the rapid restructuring of the organization’s business processes, which is possible only with the participation of a third-party specialist with the necessary experience and competencies, will give your organization the opportunity to reach a fundamentally new level without any losses and to take advantage of the new scale of activity in the shortest possible time. Otherwise, processes can drag on for several years, delaying a large number of internal resources, and not allowing you to use the emerging opportunities.
In addition, consultants can be a source of competencies, which for one reason or another are not enough in your organization. Help to rebuild the work of the “problematic” unit, enter a new market or master a new area of activity – the attracted consultant already possessing all the necessary competencies in a new or not completely understandable area of activity can greatly reduce the number of mistakes made, and thereby save you and money, and time.
However, for consulting to be effective, it is useful to follow certain rules …
Rule # 1 – Carefully approach the selection of consultants
A consultant cannot be a recent graduate, even of the most prestigious educational institution. It cannot be him and a man who has behind him the experience of exclusively consulting work. The consultant should have no less than 10 years of experience in the real business: in managerial positions or in the role of business owner. Even better, if the consultant combines work in consulting with the work of the current manager.
Rule # 2 – Choose the most convenient for you model of work with a consultant
Strange as it sounds, in modern conditions, consulting should not be limited to pure consulting. Some consulting organizations already offer a post-consulting support service – when the work of the consultant is not limited to the submitted report, but continues throughout the period of implementation of the recommended activities. The consultant controls how well the recommended changes are implemented, gives some additional recommendations and helps to correct the action plan, if something does not “go” at all, so that it does not damage the general idea – and helps to cope with the emerging organizational difficulties.
Another additional service that can be offered within the framework of consulting is the training of personnel to work in the new system. It includes both the theoretical part, when the employees explain in detail the new principles of work and remove all their questions and objections, and practical – when they are trained to work in the new system in practice, helping to master its application in the current work. As a result, the known effect of resistance to change is practically reduced to nothing.
An interesting alternative to consulting is also the services of interim managers.
Rule # 3 – Choose a consultant you can trust
The issue of trust, as you could see – is key when working with a consultant. If there is no trust in the consultant, if there are doubts that it is not worth working with him, there will be no sense from this, even if it is the most competent and professional consultant in the world. It is difficult to name the evaluation criteria – for each individual they are individual. Do not limit yourself to the list of achievements, completed projects and honored regalia, a list of diplomas, certificates and academic degrees – talk to the consultant personally, make sure that you can really trust him, get some recommendations about his work.
By observing these simple rules, you will be able to get the most out of working with consulting organizations, and the dividends received will exceed your expenses for consultants several times.