Business people often face an important and complex challenge or opportunity. Engaging a consultant to assist in the associated analysis and decision-making process can be a wise approach. The appropriate consultant can add significant value in the form of research, information, insights, ideas, suggestions, recommendations, approaches and/or solutions. These in turn can be acted on by management who hold the final authority and responsibility for decisions. Consultants therefore serve as researchers, facilitators and advisors.
As outlined in the figure below, a good consultant brings the following five key traits to the table:
Effective consultants employ the following three processes:
- Asking questions of management in order to probe deeply into the issues, the possible causes, efforts to date, and the range of possible solutions given the available time, resources and level of risk aversion.
- Provoking management to engage in creative out-of-the-box or lateral thinking (as per Edward deBono) by challenging them. (i.e. Why are things done this way? Could they be done like this instead?)
- Preparing well researched proposals for consideration and incorporation into the overall strategy by management.
So when you face an critical decision, consider tapping into not only the skills, experience and creativity of your team, colleagues and board members but also those of an external consultant to ensure a thorough consideration of all the options has been undertaken in a timely manner.