They are good.
I have been working a lot with consultants and in consulting. There are a few common denominators, I learnt. First one: They are good! Well, most of them. As always there are some exceptions but in this case, they are rather few. Consultancies succeed in attracting, training and retaining (or “alumniating”) talent. They are smart, they work hard, they walk the extra mile for their clients. They get things, well at least “slides”, done. Usually, clients love them.
It’s a business.
What I didn’t recognise (consciously) for a long time (as a client) is, that consulting — at least external consulting — is a business as such, usually a very high-margin business. It is even reflected in the internal lingo. Consultants are sold, the more the better. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with selling — I have worked in sales for a number of years — but it helps to be aware of the attitude. Some consultancies even classify their senior personnel into “hunters” and “herders“. Needless to say that success in hunting or herding projects or clients is what determines your career from a certain level upwards. Again, nothing wrong with that. It just helps to being aware that the person you’re talking to might be a hunter or herder, trying to expand the team’s size, to up-sell, to cross-sell, to get new leads … . The point of all this is: despite rates might appear high on your current project, despite the discount you have been able to negotiate, that’s hardly what makes it all expensive. What really makes it expensive is the expansion of the team, the extension of the project and — most of all — the next project.
Another thing to bear in mind: most profitable it is to re-wrap and re-sell content that has already been delivered elsewhere, so-called “products“. For the third time: nothing wrong with that and it really helps you to not fall behind what your competitors do. But don’t expect the unexpected.
A different way.
I am following a different avenue. No-Nonsense Consulting: More impact, less slides. Sustainable enablement, not hunting for the next project. Reasonable rates, no overhead. Creative solutions, not just copy and paste. Why? Well, on the one hand, after more than twenty years working in so many different environments, I am personally most excited by the exceptional. On the other hand, I believe that it might be time for that different approach, based on networks and impact, less on scale and margins. “Exceptional” not necessarily means “big” or “strategic”. Actually other things might have a bigger leaver … stay updated on this blog!