Several consultants I know seem to be in constant demand by providing services developed by a famous author or management professor. Is this something I should add to my consulting portfolio?
Let's break this down. First, there will always be organizations that are willing to try something new when traditional approaches do not work. Business books are among the most popular simply because effective management of businesses is hard work. That doesn't mean, however, that the latest fad or book is any better than foundational business principles that get less press. You know what works; you have been honing your consulting skills and behaviors for many years.
Second, ethical consultants are obligated to provide independent and objective advice to clients. If you go and get "certified" in some author's new method, is this really in the best interest of your clients, whose needs you don't even know yet? When you are oriented around a solution rather than the problem, you risk becoming the child with a hammer for whom the whole world is a nail. Your "certification" can easily cloud your independence and objectivity.
Finally, who is to say that the latest book or research is even new? Bob Sutton, coauthor of the Knowing-Doing Gap
, shows why there is precious little new in management, despite the steady stream of "breakthrough ideas" coming out of business schools and large consulting firms. In Management Advice: Which 90% is Crap?
Sutton, who admits to being cited for introducing revolutionary ideas that were just repackaged old ideas, advises caution to both purveyors and consumers of the kind of advice consultants tend to give.Tip:
Before you try to convince your client (or yourself) that you are delivering "never before seen" management advice, do a little research to see where your ideas came from. Odds are really good that they have been tried before, and may or may not have been effective. Only when the methods proven to be effective (even if they require hard work) begin to no longer apply to your clients should you begin to search for alternatives.© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA