Mutterings of a consultant

May 22, 2008

Consulting 2.0 – adding to my thoughts

Filed under: General rambling,worklife — grantfrear @ 9:05 pm
Tags: ,

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

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May 11, 2008

Consulting 2.0

Filed under: Uncategorized — grantfrear @ 8:58 am
Tags: ,

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.

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