A new engagement is a time of reflections, learning’s from the past with a resolve for the future. Over the last decade while working on testing assessments with consultants who are respected as the best in their domains, I learnt that there are common traits that lead to excellence in this field. Here is my list of top six learning’s that that truly differentiate the best from the ordinary.
- Generalize in the start: It is critical to rotate amongst different domains, varied types of engagements and people. There are a lot of different skills to build such as client interfacing, analysis, benchmarking, proposal writing, project management and networking skills which is hard to get if you are too long in one engagement and industry.
- Specialize over time: Specialization is critical to build effective benchmarks, identify trends, deep dive into solutions, and create business cases and practical roadmaps. Most successful consultants have built their reputation in a particular industry, have a network of clients that he or she works with and constantly focuses on delivering the best within their sphere.
- Be like a selective sponge while conducting assessments. Un-biased analysis originates from talking to a wide segment of individuals across the organization. While it is important to interview a wide range of individuals it is also critical to remember that the mind like a sponge has a limited absorbing capability, hence selective selection of interviewees is critical. Likewise it is very critical to narrow and focus on scope, limited to areas within the organization which are true representation of a client portfolio .This understanding comes only with specialization, and knowing what areas to look for.
- Acting on subtle feedback: Typically consulting engagements are very short and range from anything between four to eight weeks. Every client interaction is a feedback session and it is critical to watch for subtle nuances from an expectation standpoint. It is also imperative to make swift course correction either from a scope, team or expectation standpoint.
- The art of white boarding: The best in the field use it very effectively to articulate a concept, build a business case or even use it in place of a presentation.
- Connecting the dots: Typically any consulting engagement involves a ton of data gathering. Making effective use of that data, drawing meaningful interpretations without bias and identifying trends is an art that is mastered only over time.
Well known consultants have built their reputation over time, putting in the proverbial ten thousand hours and have worked their way from the trenches. They take their position of being a trusted advisor very seriously. These individuals are very passionate about what they do and building an honest view point to the best of their ability is very critical. Failure is not an option.