How do I make sure I get the credit for improving the client's position without insulting the efforts of the consultants who came before me?
Although we all want credit/recognition for the good work we do, consultants must be extra sensitive to not offend those who were responsible for the failed practice or approach that you have been tasked to improve upon. In many, but not all, cases you were called in because someone else tried but didn't succeed. It may be that they were only partly successful in getting the job done or that they did not have the needed information, budget or support required to be effective. Respect for the best efforts of others is the least you can provide, and doing so does not diminish the credit you deserve for your own efforts.
Instead of criticizing a previous approach, try something like "While the previous approach was very effective and served the organization well during the past decade, it seems as if key elements in the current business environment have changed. This new approach builds on the previous approach by taking these new conditions into account and therefore is seems to work better in the current environment. We expect future efforts to continue to build on our work." Tip:
Always aim to do great work. Don't highlight past failures and how you have corrected them. Don't look for all the credit; you'll get it by default. © 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA