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#577: Are You A "Karaoke Consultant?"

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011
There are times when a conflict arises with a prospect about the methodology we propose to use. Some clients are uncomfortable using an approach we have developed and successfully used and prefer we use approaches that are more widely recognized in the management literature or popular books.

The work of a professional management consultant extends to more than just dispensing common sense advice. Although it is possible to create some value by applying principles and practices developed by others, this relegates you somewhat to the role of a contractor or, at most, a journeyman. Traditionally, a journeyman was one who had completed a period of apprenticeship but had not developed the skill, independence and creativity of a master craftsman.

This is a two-part problem. First, it sounds like the prospect is more enamored with the "trusted" books and literature than with the approaches and processes that have successfully applied with your clients. You will have to make a more compelling case for how your approach would work and why it should be preferred over the popular one. Second, more subtle though not less important, is that you have not made a convincing case that the prospect should trust your judgment to select the most appropriate approach, whether yours or someone else's.

This discussion is one you first have within your team and with yourself. Are you satisfied carrying out someone else's processes and ideas or are you a master craftsman who creates new value? Are you comfortable using a process that may be the latest fad but that you know doesn't always work as proposed? Don't you have an ethical responsibility to stick to your guns and tell the client that it is not in their best interest to use a technique that, despite the number of book written about it, is really nothing new or is a departure from good "first principles" business practices?

Tip: There is a difference between a cover band and the real deal, between a karaoke singer and the original artist. The former are usually enjoyable enough (and sometimes dreadful) but they are not the value creators and rarely in a position to innovate and lead a profession. Those creators, the "master artisans," are where we all aspire to be as management consultants. Are you going to be an innovative and creative consultant, or a "karaoke consultant"?

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  consulting process  innovation  trust  your consulting practice 

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