The Management Consultant’s New Year’s Resolution
I promise not to do anything.
Torbjörn Dahlström, Partner and Management Consultant at Onbird
Yes, that is exactly what I mean. I feel that probably one of the most important thing for a Management Consultant to do is…not to do anything. Positively nothing! And that is my New Years Resolution (which I by the way now have fulfilled for more than 5 years).
Then why should customers call me or assign me (or any other Management Consultant for that matter) at all if we’re not going to do anything?
The answer is quite simple. Customers that purchase our consultancy services do it as a desire to build new internal capabilities. It can be better processes, more cunning reporting, automation planning, developing stronger teams, developing problem solving skills, mapping out value streams, identifying bottlenecks and removing them, devising a new or better strategy or any number of capabilities.
All of them have the common aim of strengthening the organization by faster, cheaper and higher quality delivery of IT-services. All of this requires the internal organization to grow and learn and that is usually not done by giving the task to someone else.
Guidance yes, removal of responsibility and learning NO
We usually say things like “you can’t learn to swim just by watching others” or “you can only learn to swim in water” (well I guess any liquid which isn’t poisonous will do but water is the common choice).
So therefore the most important thing for me as a management consultant is to not take over the responsibility and chore of designing and implementing new capabilities.
What I can do, and what all management consultants should do, is to coach, support and mentor my customers to develop their own skills and capabilities.
This is done via dialogue, observation and feedback. There should probably also be some experimentation. Just like the baby that learns to walk, there is no rule to how this is done, but it is always accompanied by trial and error.
What I won’t do
So my new year’s resolution for next year is that I will not produce one single process chart, no KPI-reports, no new organizational charts, no strategy documents, no problem analysis or anything of the sort.
What I will do
I will however keep supporting my customers in developing their capabilities just like I have for the last decade and a half or so.
Yes, I used to be the consultant that did all the work and in the process learnt masses, developed completely different capabilities and left all of my customers standing exactly where I found them when we first connected.
So I learnt the hard way how not to be a good consultant with real focus on customer value.
So if we should come across one another in a project in the future, I promise that I won’t do your work for you. I’ll make sure you have to do it yourself and in the process learn a thing or two!
PS, if you can read Swedish and you want some tips on how to avoid the wrong type of consultant then read up on our previous blog “10 warning signs…”
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