In today’s fast-paced world, we are often so busy trying to scratch off items on our to-do lists that we short change ourselves of time to reflect on how to improve the way we do things. We can get so busy fighting alligators that we forget to think about how to drain the swamp. The solution for some companies is to hire a consultant.
Before retaining a pricey consultant, consider that you may be the best choice for the consulting gig. After all, who knows your business like you do? One way to frame the problem you are trying to solve is to ask yourself, “If I hired a top consulting firm to solve this problem, what advice would they give me?” Solving problems starts by asking the right questions. Why not ask those questions yourself? Here are some to get you started:
- As an outsider, what must I know about this project to get started?
- If time and money were not a factor, what would a solution look like?
- What are my barriers to success?
- What brilliant breakthrough thinking can I bring to bear on this project to justify my consulting fee?
- Many consultants follow a simple three step recipe and then dress it up with fancy language and a spiral binding.
Here are the steps:
- Describe the current situation (the “As Is”).
- Define the desired outcome or future state (the “To Be”).
- Identify the actions required to close the gap between the current situation and the desired future state.
Sometimes it is appropriate to bring in an outside consultant—this light-hearted article is not meant to make consulting sound easy. However, I hope that the consulting techniques described above provide you with a fresh perspective for problem solving and the encouragement to tackle another continuous improvement project.