I just left a mid-sized firm to go out on my own and am looking for sources of best practices in consulting. I have recently run across a lot of consultants I consider examples of worst practices, but would like to know where to find the good ones.
Every profession has its stars and its duds. Certification, licensure and the marketplace tend to improve the overall quality and effectiveness of any profession. However, it is up to individual professionals like you to constantly improve their consulting skills and behaviors and business acumen. Look at the Management Consulting Competency Framework
for areas considered critical for an effective consultant.
Don't just use your personal experience in observing other consultants to emulate their best practices. Also look for notably bad behavior, applied skills, or approaches to consulting as examples of what to avoid. Sometimes the best way to improve is to see in sharp relief the destructive or inappropriate behavior or actions of others. For example, we have all been in the audience when a speaker goes off track, whether in content or presentation and, after cringing for them, think to ourselves that we're glad we don't do that. Odds are, however, we have done something similar somewhere in our past.Tip:
Make it a habit to actively look for ineffective (or destructive) consultant behaviors and techniques. Write down a brief (a phrase or sentence or two) synopsis the behavior, the time and place it occurred (to cue your memory later) and, this is the important part, what you would have done differently. This could include style, content, sequence, format, language, analytic approach or any other aspect of the consulting process important to you. Include your own behavior and skills in this scanning for ineffective consulting, which will keep you continuously improving your own "product." © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA