I admire consultants who know more than just technique. If you don't know the history or theory of a discipline or the major thinkers, how can you create the right approach for your client?
Although more a statement than a question, your point is very well taken. Managers are often disappointed with consultants who apply techniques that don't fit with the client's specific needs. We all use our experience as the basis of our designs for diagnosis, findings and recommendations. We add to this the benefit of our conversations with our colleagues, research we do and books or journals we read. But some of our best learning can come from looking into how various practices came about. When were they developed, who developed them and why, what caused them to rise and fall from favor, what replaced them and who are the dominant practitioners today?
This kind of deep understanding is what large consulting firms look for in case interviews and IMC requires in certification panel interviews for the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation. You may not need an academic grounding in the full history of the discipline, but you do benefit from knowing enough how it is applied in many settings to be a capable user. Tip:
One of the best ways to hone your understanding of the nuances of your discipline is through case discussions. Gather a half dozen of colleagues you respect with varied backgrounds by industry, age, and perspective (some consultants and some executives). Pick a relevant case study or example from the newspaper and debate and discuss it. Having to defend your position in vigorous debate really deepens your understanding of your discipline. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA