Mutterings of a consultant

May 22, 2008

Consulting 2.0 – adding to my thoughts

Filed under: General rambling,worklife — grantfrear @ 9:05 pm
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In a previous post I presented some open questions about Consulting 2.0.  The main reason for presenting open questions was that I really had no formed ideas on what Consulting 2.0 actually is.  All I could find on the web was bitter posts by disgruntled ex-Consultants.  So where did this leave me?  In that somewhat uncomfortable place where one has to think for oneself, put ideas on paper and see what people think.  So here it is (comments and critique appreciated).

Purpose of consulting – best start at the beginning

The way I see it the purpose of Consulting is to apply experience, knowledge and expertise to help a client change.  Clearly change comes in many guises and therefore this broad definition allows for advisory engagements, implementation engagements, strategy engagements etc.

Consulting 1.0 – how have we traditionally delivered on the purpose

Consulting has typically been practiced through people.  The model of Consulting 1.0 is to bring experience, expertise and knowledge to the client through a people channel.  Teams, large and small, descend on the client and practice their craft.  Approaches differ, some are more collaborative, some present themselves as the sage.  What is common however is that the client must buy people to get access to the experience, expertise and knowledge.  Other aspects of Consulting 1.0 that are easy to observe include – proprietary methodologies, closed engagements delivered by one firm, protecting property etc.  In Consulting 1.0 value comes from what you have managed to harvest internally and how you can channel this through your people.

Consulting 2.0 – emergent methods to delivering on the purpose

One of the issues with Consulting 1.0 is that it does not scale.  People are a constraint to growth and ultimately constrain clients and their ability to change (i.e. get access to people and experience).  There are however emerging models whereby services can and are being delivered in ways that ease the reliance on people.  One of the challenges with these models is to ensure that the value proposition is redefined, no point selling the IP and experience without the people as this will chip away at the bedrock of your business.  Emerging models are packaging the IP into services that support the core business, to bring revenue to the Consultant when the client is helping themself change.  A recent example of this in my world is the leadership academy.  This sets about helping clients improve the leadership capabilities in their businesses.  It brings together great IP from consultants (in this case human capital expertise), packages this with contemporary thinking from business schools and wraps this together to support the core services (people oriented) of the consultant.

So in summary my current thoughts on Consulting 2.0 is summarised as follows

– Less reliant on people to support change in clients

– More open and less protective of IP

– More collaborative

– Complimentary to 1.0 models not a complete substitute

– Technology enabled

– Scalable

– Supports change in clients when the consultant is not there


May 19, 2008

TED – Ideas worth sharing

Filed under: General rambling — grantfrear @ 6:06 am
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The web really is a wonderfull thing.  I am constantly amazed where I end up and what I find.  Recently I came across a web site titled TED.  TED is an annual conference that is held in Montery, CA that attracts some of the worlds best minds to present on a wide range of topics.

I am not a huge TV fan and have found the TED site somewhat addictive as a TV replacement.  I have lost many an hour on this site watching some great presentations.  They probably have the best video streaming technology that I have seen.  It is indexed and allows you to fast-forward the streaming – very nice.

I have provided a link below to a truely great presentation on poverty and the development of nations. 

TED – poverty and the development of nations


May 11, 2008

Consulting 2.0

Filed under: Uncategorized — grantfrear @ 8:58 am
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I have been giving some thought to the 2.0s lately.  We are well and truly in the grip of Web 2.0 now, we have written about Government 2.0, albeit the reality of this is some time off, and we are starting to see the maturing of Enterprise 2.0 and Business 2.0 (which has a magazine dedicated to it).  I even came across the HR 2.0 when researching something for a client and their HRIS strategy.

So how come so little is written about Consulting 2.0.  The few posts that I could find on the topic seem to be from disgruntled ex-consultants who have an axe to grind with their former employers.  There have however been a number of books on the future of consulting, one notable contribution to the debate was the book issued in collaboration with the Economist magazine which looked at the changing face of consulting and the clients that buy their services.

If we apply the common themes from Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and Government 2.0 to the field of consulting what would it look like?

Firstly from an internal perspective Consulting companies are often run along the lines of Enterprise 2.0 philosophies already.  They are highly collaborative, teams are formed and reformed to meet specific client needs, diverse backgrounds come together to exchange ideas on how to address the clients problems.  All of these are attributes of less hierarchy and a more contemporary view on the management of human capital.  Clearly from this observation consulting companies are doing well from an internal perspective.

Is the scorecard as rosy from an external perspective, the client’s perspective?  Are these internal capabilities translated into performance on client site, applied to the client’s business problem.  I think this is where most models of consulting fall short of the expectations of an Enterprise 2.0 client.  

I will leave you with those open questions and share my thoughts some more in a subsequent post.

May 4, 2008

Powerpoint suicide

Filed under: General rambling — grantfrear @ 2:29 am
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Every now and then you get to look at our profession from the other side, from the clients perspective. I was recently invited as the client’s representative to a meeting with a team of consultants who had one of their regional ‘big swinging dicks’ in town.

As soon as I entered the room I could tell I was in for a treat. There they were, a team of consultants with a laptop on the table, poised to attack. It was clear they had one thing in mind, a powerpoint duel. There was one thing that was for sure, the presentation was going to be all about them.

After the introductions off they went, over to the most senior member of the team who opened with the following fateful phrase “I have a few slides prepared, we will not go through all of them’. After about 20 slides we finally got to the most notorious of all consultants slides, the brag slide. This slide is usually jam-packed full of client logos that the client is meant to be impressed with. I often wonder however if all this does is confirm how promiscuous the consultant really is.

I have to admit that I have been in many similar meetings where I have been on the other side of the table. Myself and my collegues have been so keen to impress we launch into some form of powerpoint suicide before even addressing the simple questions
– What is the client expecting from the meeting?
– What are the important issues that as a consultant we should focus on?

This experience was a timely reminder to how our profession and approaches are percieved across the other side of the table. I can only wish that I could have these experiences more often as I am sure that it would make me a better consultant. Perhaps I should have asked permission to video the experience so that I could replay it at times when I found myself getting adrift from the client’ perspective.

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