There’s an old joke that a consultant is someone who steals your watch to tell you what time it is. As an entrepreneur and business leader, I’ve chuckled at this joke more than once. As a consultant, the fact that there is some truth to jokes like these sends shivers up my spine.
I first began my career as a consultant following a stint as a serial entrepreneur. One of the first lessons I was taught was to always put the client first. My response to this first lesson was quite simple:
I’ve always thought of consultants as doctors for business; good consultants are those who:
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a business consultant, a business development consultant, an individual or a business consultancy. This approach is as valid today as it was 50 years ago when the modern management consulting industry first began, but the traditional model of consulting is going through rapid change.
Plumbers, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, and consultants all engage their clients because the former knows something that the latter does not. In the world of business consulting, the knowledge gap between a business consultant and his or her client is rapidly closing.
The old model of business consulting is beginning to fail.
Clients are increasingly able to conduct their own analyses; to the extent that clients are in need of advice, it’s not around why their businesses might need to improve, but how to achieve that improvement.
To their credit, many consulting firms (including our own) are proactively responding to these changes and refining their business models and value propositions. At the Kabardian Group, for example, we operate under four key value propositions:
While our model may not work for every business consultant or every client, it seems to work well for us. We often tell our clients that one of the keys to success is to remain focused and flexible at the same time.
At the Kabardian Group, we are focused on delivering lasting, measurable improvements to our clients’ performance. We happen to be quite flexible in terms of how we do so.
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