After more than a decade in consulting, I have developed a solid set of stories, examples, and templates that I use in my engagements and I think they work really well. Should I update these standards or am I OK with what I have?
A consultant is well served by a ready set of stories, examples, and metaphors to assist in communicating techniques and approaches to make organizations more effective. However, there is always room to improve the way we think about organizations, management and consulting. One of the best ways to do this is to read constantly about innovative ways businesses operate and how to use this information to refresh your toolkit.
Think beyond your normal boundaries. For example, if you are involved in process improvement, find examples of clever ways companies are benchmarking. Hospitals trying to improve operating room effectiveness have benchmarked against racing pit crews to address tool placement, equipment hand offs, communication, and process speed and predictability. Maybe not what you would normally consider, but something that stimulates you to think more broadly.
Another example is where Southwest Airlines looks for employees. Instead of traditional places, Southwest looks for flight attendant candidates among school teachers, who are very service oriented and social. Police officers and fire fighters are known to make great baggage handlers because they are used to physical activity, work extremely well in teams and are goal oriented. Seeing through the eyes of Southwest can stimulate you to think more broadly about new ways to help your clients do the same. Tip:
Even if you have developed a good set of consulting resources over the years, give them a good scrubbing and update. After a while, the stories become tired (even the examples above are well known to many consultants) and really require a review to see if there are more robust concepts needed, more recent examples available, and new ways to tell the "story" for each of them.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA