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#624: Design Your Recommendations at the Right Scale

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, August 4, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 4, 2011
When a consultant has a new client, there is a period of time before we really understand the culture and personality of a client sponsor and the organization. What seems like an appropriate recommendation may seem to the client too radical or not impactful enough. Is it better to go big and let the client scale it back or take some other approach?

This is a great question because we tend to focus on getting the right answer and not necessarily the right size answer. Western cultures take a linear and reductionist approach to analysis. We take a big problem, decompose it into its parts and solve the components and then reassemble it into what we presume is an appropriate scale solution. Unless we have a good sense, at the outset of the analysis, a sense of at what scale the solution should be, we risk creating an intervention for the client that is over engineered or insufficient to be effective.

The answer lies in understanding the nature of the problems we are trying to solve. Each problem has its own scale, and finding it requires knowing the scale at which the recommended intervention will be most effective, not the perceived scale of the problem itself.

Consider environmental policymaking. We consider overpopulation, biodiversity loss, air pollution and limited strategic resources as complex, pervasive problems. While they may exist globally, their solution depends on the physical, institutional and cultural options available to solve them. Hence, effective climate policy is global, energy policy is national and water policy is local.

Tip: Define as early as possible the scale at which you will craft your solutions. But be careful. If you have not dealt with the kind of problem sufficiently to identify the solution space and scale prior to starting the engagement, consider whether you really understand the client condition and solutions well enough to take on the engagement ethically.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  customer understanding  engagement management  ethics  management theory  recommendations 

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