Smarter Consultants Recognize It’s Time to Shift

by Jay Deragon on 09/05/2013

paradigm-shiftSmarter consultants, and companies, are recognizing that old business models and methods are no longer relevant to a market of real-time knowledge and tools that don’t need advanced degrees to understand or use. Subsequently smarter takes on a new meaning and implied value in a market of higher expectations.

The word smarter implies having a high degree of intelligence; mentally acute, bright, knowing more etc.  Bright implies quickness or ease in learning. Knowing implies the possession of knowledge, information, or understanding. So smarter consultants, and companies, are recognizing that the market itself is getting smarter because of real-time knowledge and tools. Subsequently these dynamics are creating a shift in how value is created in the 21st century from knowledge suppliers and  organizations seeking to improve performance that satisfies the increasing demands of the market.

The word market represents all the stakeholders that contribute value to a market of exchanges and those stakeholders are now more than just investors, suppliers, employees and customers.  The definition and considerations of stakeholder interest has expanded.  A recent study, written up in the book, “Firms of Endearment,” by Thomas Donaldson and Lee E. Preston, illustrates a strong connection of firms operating with strong stakeholder principles outperform the S&P 500 by a 9-to-1 ratio.  Read that again slowly!

Can You See The Shift?

Two decades ago, 70 per cent of McKinsey’s revenues were from strategy and corporate finance but most now flow from hands-on work on risk, operations and marketing.  The traditional cash cow of strategic consulting work is expected to grow just 3.7 percent next year. So it seems that the market demand, 50% increase in the next 12 months, for executing sales, marketing, operational improvements and digital enhancements, is to execute upon what needs to be done in the short-term verse resources to think about what needs to be done in the long-term, strategy.

In an article titled “Continuous Productivity’ and the Next Generation of Work and Tools For Work” Steven Sinofsky writes: Continuous productivity shifts our efforts from the start/stop world of episodic work and work products to one that builds on the technologies that start to answer what happens when:

  • A generation of new employees has access to the collective knowledge of an entire profession and experts are easy to find and connect with.
  • Collaboration takes place across organization and company boundaries with everyone connected by a social fiber that rises above the boundaries of institutions.
  • Data, knowledge, analysis, and opinion are equally available to every member of a team in formats that are digital, sharable, and structured.
  • People have the ability to time slice, context switch, and proactively deal with situations as they arise, shifting from a world of start/stop productivity and decision-making to one that is continuous.

Today our tools force us to hurry up and wait, then react at all hours to that email or notification of available data. Continuous productivity provides us a chance at a more balanced view of time management because we operate in a rhythm with tools to support that rhythm. 

Smarter Consultants and companies are recognizing that the rhythm of the market are influenced by real-time shifts in value produced by intangible resources.  The new meaning of smarter is being able to recognize and measure the value of intangible capital.

Smarter is no longer a sense of knowledge rather it is a sense of value.

{ 1 comment }

Michael Ringrose September 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Jay Deragon presents an interesting and timely perspective on the dynamics at play in assessing and coming to terms with the degree to which the Client Base has equally become competent and adept in its use of all of the technological devices that facilitate immediate access to data, analysis, sharing and projections and now must equally be regarded as “Smart”. They, also, as Deragon acknowledges, are recognising that old business models and methods are no longer relevant. Gone are the days when the person with the knowledge and the modern tech instruments was “The Consultant” and the clients waited patiently for the “solutions” to be revealed. Solutions that in so many instances were conjured up, (in good faith, in accordance with the models of the time,) but invariably based on the range of consulting products within the armory of the consultant firm and very professionally dressed and delivered as a finished product to the client, with little regard for the competence of the client to implement the solutions. That was not seen as part of the Consultant’s function.

That process failed so many of those hoping the have their businesses re-configured and capable of meeting the pressures from competition, scarce resources, and the overwhelming impact of technological development itself.

Whatever tools, strategies and resources are used in the future, the essential value of the engagement between Consultant and Client must be inextricably linked with a commitment to jointly share in the implementation of whatever strategies, processes and adjustments are ultimately proposed as a means of resolving the obstacles for growth and development of the company. Initially, of course, there must be clear comprehension of the very often complex issues facing a business and a clear understanding and agreement in the contractual arrangements between Consultant and Client, that the proposed methods, processes and strategies recommended for resolving obstacles for growth and development will have the support and assistance of the Consultant at implementation stage. As we are aware, at that stage many consultants, having very professionally addressed the task, identified impediments and obstacles and having presented a very comprehensive assessment and recommendations as to what necessary steps should follow, has satisfied the traditional approach and signs off on a completed task. Failure to gain from the process is far too often the experience of the clients. Failure to comprehend, failure to make the necessary adjustments, failure to implement strategies and procedures that, if followed, would result in improvement and success. The failure is not, however, because of some innate reluctance to move forward but, frequently because of lack of capacity within the company to implement the proposed changes. That deficit may be due to lack of experience, expertise, skill, or even sufficient knowledge or comprehension of some of the complex issues involved. It would not be unusual that the absence of such critical experience, knowledge or skill would not be flaunted but consultants ought to be aware of all of the potential risks that might hinder a successful outcome of the project.

We need to be mindful that the Client List is not in itself regarded as a “Product”., to be used and exploited in the effort to sell other products. It constitutes a wide and varied community of multi-talented and hardworking individuals, in their own way, endeavoring to be successful.They are , of course, part of the, “Economy”, just as the Consultants are.

We are in a new world. We need to park our Egos on occasions and not allow them to arrive a week before we do. It is much easier then to meet and greet on an equal basis and jointly move forward with whomsoever we are offering our experience and expertise.

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