With continued growth and increasing competition in the sector, we have been discussing with consulting firms, consulting associations, academics teaching consulting, and client executives ‘What makes someone a management consultant?’
The primary attribute most-often cited is knowledge – subject matter expertise – typically in an industry. Pharmaceuticals R&D, CPG advertising, or healthcare technologies, for example.
An alternative primary attribute is a technical expertise. Strategy development, policy development, organizational design, process improvement, strategic alliance management, project management, change management, are several common examples.
These two might intersect, describing Sue as ‘a strategy consultant in aerospace & defense.’
Then a series of secondary attributes common to ‘great management consultants’ are described; interpersonal skills, project management skills, analytical skills, management consulting skills, intelligence, and curiosity.
Then there are the core management consulting skills.
By core we mean those activities every management consultant conducts on every project, and whose level of performance directly impacts the client’s outcomes.
We also learned they are skills, methods, and techniques for which clients presume their consultants have prescribed approaches in which they are trained. However, from the conversations and observation of over 200 projects, it is evident this is rarely the case.
These are three of the thirty-three core skills identified that cumulatively determine the quality and outcomes of management consulting.
One immediate way to becoming more competitive and conduct better projects is to possess these core management consulting skills equal to or above the standards of your subject matter knowledge and technical skills.
Both clients and consultants are enjoying the consultant’s subject matter knowledge and technical expertise being applied more accurately, consistently, and efficiently.
This topic is being referred to as consulting process excellence, going beyond methodology into the specifics of how-to.
Perhaps you are an undergraduate or postgraduate early into your career at a brand consulting firm, or already an experienced senior consultant. You might be a professional who went from industry to an existing consulting firm or started your own. In each case, formal education in the core management consulting skills is now available.
PS If you either correctly identify the intended omission in my consulting logic model above, or identify a fatal flaw which I would only admit to privately (!), a discount to the core skills training has your name on it.