July 30: Consulting in Practice 5

On July 30, 2019 it was just Kasie and Shennice in studio wrapping up Consulting Month on SSC. Here are the show notes:

Theme for day:

Consulting in practice: Episode 5

Agenda review:

  • CRC Academy revisit / review
  • What is consulting?
nature flowers white flower
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Segment 1:

We’ve spent the entire month on consulting as a business and I think we’ve pretty much covered it all. 

  • With Vanessa we talked about building the CRC Academy cohorts and having the five enrolled consultants work together to learn from one another. 
  • With Adrienne we talked about inventory and pricing and how you can determine how much a service should be sold for and really how to package your services into products. 
  • With Stephanie we talked about building your business processes and organizing systems so you can grow. 
  • And with Ann we talked about perceived value and real value and how consultants can communicate the value they bring to their clients.

What’s left?

Today we’re going to talk about what the work of a consultant actually looks like — methodology and deliverables and results and all that.

Then we’re going to do an assessment that can help you determine if consulting is the right profession for you. Ready?

First, let’s remind everyone our definition of consultant. Remember, this is different than a coach. Here’s the definition:

Consultant – the expert engaged for specific help with something: public speaking, communications, writing, etc. They have a skill set that can help you get better at a specific skill. They create a structured curriculum for you and hold you accountable for achieving certain milestones and skills.

A few things to unpack there — a consultant is considered the Expert in the Room. Meaning the work you’re taking on is something you’ve done successfully in the past. You know HOW to do what needs doing. Second, you have a specific skill set that is needed in your client’s organization. This skill set might vary depending on what skills are required, but basically they can’t do what you can do and that’s why they hired you. Finally, the consultant has a Structured Curriculum and Holds You Accountable. 

That curriculum is Methodology. It’s how they do things and how they will engage with you. As you move through the methodology, you learn the skills and habits and the “HOW” of solving the problem in front of you. Some consultants will do the work for you. Most will expect you to help them get the work done and be teaching you along the way.

Segment 2

So, consultants work within a Methodology — or a process for doing things. It might be branded as their own proprietary methodology or they may have learned it and borrowed or bought it from elsewhere. In any case, it organizes their work. So before you hire a consultant, ask them what methodology they will follow for the project. If they seem confused by the question, you might be working with an amateur or someone who is too disorganized to be effective.

Within the methodology are units of work, or deliverables. These are evidence of work. They’re documents, videos, spreadsheets, efforts basically that help you see the consultant’s work being done. Deliverables are not results. They are evidence.

Some examples of deliverables:

  • A communications plan
  • A publicity plan
  • A testing plan
  • Test scripts
  • A project plan
  • Updates and reports
  • Drafts and designs

Deliverables can be received for approval — the client reviews what you’ve done and asks questions, requests more information, and approves the work done thus far. More than anything, deliverables show progress toward results.

So that brings us to Results. What are the results of your consulting engagement? Well, they’re the measurements you set out to improve for the client. Key performance indicators. A changed state from where they were when you arrived.

For example, when we built the methodology for TCube, we ended the engagement with a full library of templates, instructions, and samples of work. Their people could access that library and follow the directions to utilize all of the tools we created for them. The results were standardization of implementation practices. Everyone singing out of the same songbook.

Segments 3 & 4

Let’s do the assessment piece now. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re considering picking up consulting as your next career:

  • What are you passionate about?

The ikigai — or “reason for living” — tells us that the intersection of What You Love and What You’re Good At is “passion”; the intersection of what you’re good at and what you can get paid for is “Profession”; the intersection of what you can get paid for and what the world needs is “vocation” and where what the world needs intersects with what you love you’ll find your Mission. (See diagram)

Venn diagram of concept of ikigai
Photo from Forbes.com

So what you’re passionate about isn’t necessarily a profession or even a vocation. And as much as what you love the world might need, it may not pay you for it.

  • What qualifies you as a Subject Matter Expert in that area?

It’s not just time spent in the trenches in your specific field or expertise. It’s also education, knowledge, learning, practice, and experience. What has experience taught you?

  • What experience do you have in solving SUPER problems in that area?

This is where you identify where you have proven results. For example, I used to be a business analyst and looked at how a software program was capturing data and transferring data. We conducted an experiment to find out why serial numbers were being erroneously reported to HP costing us thousands of dollars in rebates. Turned out our scanners were picking up the first 10 digits, not the last 10 digits of the serial numbers so every 10 looked the same. Software doesn’t know what you don’t tell it. I learned how to investigate in that job and really how to see like a software application “sees.”

  • What intangible qualities would you bring to a company in need of your consulting services?
  • What experience do you have in project-based work?
  • Do you have the tools to work autonomously?
  • What about working autonomously would challenge you?

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