Editor’s note: This is the second part of, Ogbo’s 8 Powerful Must Have Consulting Skills For Beginners Series. Today he continues on the series (we now know how many parts – smiles) by the way, we chose this title ‘8 Powerful Must Have Consulting Skills for Beginners’ for some reasons but the content is relevant for experienced people too. Continue after the cut…
I’m not sure if it is how the human brain is wired but people generally struggle to define exactly what they want. Often, what we think we want isn’t what we really want. Clarity is a learnable skill. It is highly rewarding.
The coach or consultant must be a king or queen of clarity. Or at least, a knight. Vagueness will cut your pay.
Nine out of ten clients I have worked for may have struggled to clarify exactly what they want to achieve. They know there is a problem and they desire a certain outcome. The ability to clarify the problem, vision and spell out a measurable outcome is critical to the success of any consulting project.
From my consulting experience, many a problem reported by an organization isn’t the problem. There are usually issues that lie way below the surface. Through framing, the veteran consultant is able to bring these subterranean issues to the surface.
Usually, my first few engagements with clients are devoted to what I refer to, in my legacy practice, as the D&C sessions. D&C is reminiscent of the Dilation and Curettage – the medical procedure for removing abnormal tissues from the uterus. In my case, though, no worries, ladies; D&C means Discover and Clarify.
Asking questions is a major skill in the framing process. Cultivate your ability to ask questions because the worst problems are solved by the best questions.
The ability to frame a client’s problem is critical because if you frame a problem wrongly you will never arrive at an acceptable solution. It’s like treating chickenpox for smallpox. All poxes aren’t equal: One is small, the other is chicken.
Framing is to consulting what clerking and medical diagnostics are to medicine. Unfortunately, many consultants begin to treat before they have correctly diagnosed the organization’s corporate health condition.
Several years ago, a telecommunications giant that runs a foundation came by my book titled, Academic Success: Brain Power Guide for Every Student. They read and reviewed the book and thought it would be great as a sponsored gift to the secondary schools they supported.
Eventually, they ordered and we had the book branded with their colors and logo.
What I found interesting was the comment of the General Manager:
“Ogbo, your writing skills are magnificent. I admire your use of short sentences. Your way with words keeps the reader engaged. Our brand is happy to associate with excellence.”
I am not sure how much you can achieve as a consultant if you do not write well. Often, people tend to focus their personal development on verbal and non verbal communication skills. While those are wonderful, writing adds tremendous mileage to your consulting career.
Because video marketing and podcasting are becoming de facto in the industry, it is quite tempting to parry your need to build your writing skills.
However, sooner than you realize it, you will have to send in a proposal or prepare a business or technical report. The quality of your proposal may determine whether the client will give you an appointment, especially in a hotly contested space.
Fortunately, writing skills are easy to build. Attend a writing class. Read more – reading enhances writing. When you read a material, become aware of anything that strikes you about the author’s style and what you can adopt. Develop your own writing voice. Practice writing everyday.
6. Research and Opportunity Scanning skills
Here is the dirty secret of veteran consultants: They don’t know everything! Thankfully, they don’t have to. But they know how to find out everything about anything.
One man reads the newspaper, sips a glass of beer and moves on to the next story. A consultant reads the same paper and in between the lines, tells where the next wave of the money will happen in the economy.
A colleague took several days and hours pouring over Nigeria’s 2016 budget of several hundreds of pages. Not many have such patience. But he has struck a few veins of gold in his consulting career from that discipline.
Not many realize how much information is hidden in the National Bureau of Statistics and other materials issued by the Central Bank and policymaking agencies. Not many realize how much they could glean from the Internet, or top business shows such as Quest Means Business, Bloomberg TV and the like.
Nevertheless, you may not have the time to do some research by yourself. There are dozens of ways and means to outsource your research, but you’ll have to be boss enough to understand, curate and quality control and assure the process.
The Post “8 Powerful Must Have Consulting Skills For Beginners – Part 2” first appeared as 8 Powerful Consulting Skills That Put Food On Your Table (Part 2 of 3)