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#477: Your Powers of Observation are Key to Your Consulting Value

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Some of my consulting colleagues start making recommendations the same day they arrive at an organization. For me, even after interviewing executives , conducting surveys, and doing secondary research, it still takes me weeks to feel comfortable making recommendations. How can I get better at diagnosis?

In management, as in medicine, prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. Don't presume that making fast recommendations are the same as making good ones. That said, diagnosis is basically about recognizing patterns, and the speed at which you recognize patterns comes increases with experience.

Think about it. When a client describes his or her situation, do you often say "this is like the situation I read about at company X" or "this is the same as my client Y"? Do you also think that the "solution" to the situation you recognize is also similar to one you already know?

So how do we get good at pattern recognition? Read more books about management. Consult to different types of clients. Discuss situations with your colleagues. Think about how situation A is the same or different than situation B. Evaluate whether intervention A would work or not with Situation B. IMC is starting to sponsor case discussions, where members will debate issues, identify patterns and share solutions to increase the speed and depth of pattern recognition. all these strategies will build our ability to see deeper patterns than we do now. Above all, recognize the need to diagnose the pattern before prescribing action.

Tip: People vary in their ability to capture, process and retrieve information. If you don't already know about Steven Wiltshire, then think about the potential powers of observation some of us have. You won't have this ability but consider how much is possible.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  data visualization  learning 

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