The truth about consultancy rarely comes from the supplier side. For it to be absolutely appreciated, it must come from the demand side. Forgive my non-economist readers, but allow me to break it down for you in a No-Holds-Barred kind of manner.
Many a time, a company, organisation, government or even a simple scenario is troubling to its promoters, and because they tend to have something fixed in their mind that tells them that this particular way is the best way. Other times, they are so busy on so many other pressing ideals within the company that taking the time to think through this scenario is a nuisance and does not fathom any time worthy of listening at all.
So, in many cases, the company will look through its history to see what it did the last time such a scenario popped up, and usually carry out a similar attack on the problem and this at best involves meetings with lots of delegating arising and in effect absolves senior management from handling the scenario. This is called sweeping the dust under the carpet. A known method of coping in a growing enterprise and not one to be treated lightly as it encourages the utterly hated blame game.
The other solution is to forge out a list of the problem in more detail and check around through the immediate networks to source somebody who has the ability and mainly prior experience to see beyond such a scenario and not only provide solutions, but should be able to effectively work out ways with the implementers-to-be on how to work around, within and on top of the scenario to the benefit of the client.
This is in effect a consultancy assignment.
The argument for consultants to be creative versus being simply functional can many-a-time be looked at as almost the same. You do a financial strategy for a money lending company and build similar assumptions when carrying out a financing strategy for an investment bank. Or in a better scenario, you carry out a distribution plan for a beverage company and trade similar strategies for a supermarket.
To effectively slice the bread into fairly acceptable slices and having the toaster not complain, one is encouraged to always think through things. Thinking through things requires a step back from every scenario and admitting that the scenarios though similar are quite unique in their own interests and effectively requires a different angle of approach.
The different angle of approach is often overlooked and too few questions are asked to allow the solution to come out from under the carpet. This is in effect a creative method of applying the mind to serious scenarios.
So, if you are on the demand side and the consultant does not have more than 2 ways of looking at your scenario in question, would you go ahead and hire him/her to suggest practical solutions for getting passed the situation?
I think not!
by Edmund Kamugisha
Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE® and has over 8 years of management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG and companies in the service industry. He has a BA (Econ) and an MSc (Devt Econ). You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg