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The Practice of Professional Consulting

ISBN: 978-1-118-24184-4
320 pages
October 2012, Pfeiffer
The Practice of Professional Consulting (1118241843) cover image
Despite the size of the consulting industry and its attractiveness to business school graduates, there is a dearth of agreement about what constitutes "professionalism" in consulting. The Practice of Professional Consulting provides the most comprehensive introduction to the field of consulting, including a complete system of guidelines, and all the tools, templates, techniques, case studies, competencies, and assessments to become a professional consultant. Broad enough to be useful to anyone starting any kind of consulting business, yet specific in explaining typical client situations, this guide offers new and aspiring consultants with a perspective of the rules, roles, values, methods, and techniques used across firms in the consulting industry.
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About This Book xii

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xviii

PART ONE: SETTING THE STAGE 1

1 The Nature of Consulting 3

It’s an Industry 4

Types of Consulting 8

Scope of Consulting 10

Trusted Consultant and Advisor 12

Consultant Qualifications 14

What Is Professional Consulting? 16

2 Why Companies Hire Consultants 19

Why Consultants Are Needed 19

Fast, Bigger, Better, Cheaper Outcomes 21

Forces That Drive Business Consulting 25

Expectations of Consultant Services 30

Changes in Client’s Business and Organization Needs 31

Future Challenges 34

3 A Model for Professional Consulting 38

What Do We Mean by “Process”? 38

A Framework for Consulting 39

The Four Stages of Consulting 44

The Four Roles of Consulting 46

Consulting Competencies 48

PART TWO: APPLYING THE MODEL 53

4 Stage One: The Developing and Designing Process 55

Stage One Competencies: Winning the Business 56

Understanding the Client’s Business and Industry 59

Making a Good First Impression 61

First Meeting Dynamics 63

5 Stage One, Continued: Assessing Client Needs and Managing Expectations 70

The Purpose of Conducting a Needs Assessment 70

Types of Questions: The Fundamentals 72

Conducting a Needs Assessment: A Question Strategy 74

Needs Assessment: Listening Actively 79

The Proposal Development Process 82

Managing Expectations 91

6 Stage Two: The Mobilizing and Aligning Process 96

Stage Two Competencies: Mobilizing and Aligning 96

Work and Project Plan Reviews 97

Risk Assessment Factors 106

Project Launch Meetings 108

7 Stage Two, Continued: Turning a Consulting Group into a Team 116

Defi ning a Team 116

Stages of Team Development 119

Diagnosing Project Team Performance 121

How Team Building Is Conducted 122

Special Problems in Building Project Teams 123

Characteristics of High-Performing Teams 126

The Project Leader Style Needed for Team Building 127

8 Stage Three: The Building and Producing Process 130

Stage Three Competencies: Building and Producing 131

Data Gathering 132

Performance Management and Coaching 137

Coaching Consultants 139

Motivating Consultants 146

Progress Review Meetings 151

Navigating Organizational Politics 155

Project Management Issues 161

9 Stage Four: The Implementing and Deploying Process 168

Stage Four Competencies: Implementing and Deploying 169

Managing Change 171

Implementation Strategies 175

Skills Transfer 180

Measuring Customer Satisfaction 186

Satisfaction Assessment Metrics 190

PART THREE: THE BIGGER PICTURE 195

10 Improving Consulting as a Professional Practice 197

A Reality Check About Consulting 198

The Need to Professionalize Consulting 200

Professional Capabilities of Consultants 205

Building Block One: Client’s Business Focus 208

Building Block Two: Business Management 210

Building Block Three: Technical Requirements 214

Building Block Four: Interpersonal Attributes 215

Building Block Five: Effective Leadership 217

11 Lessons of Experience 222

How to Grow in Professional Capability 223

Lessons from McKinsey 225

The Pain and Joy of a Consulting Career 227

Professional Proficiencies in Consulting 231

Trends for the Twenty-First Century 234

Appendices

A The Consulting Role Preference Indicator 238

B Guidelines for Successful Consulting 250

C The Leadership Role of Consultants 258

D Consulting Case Applications 262

E Diagnostic Procedures and Instruments for Consulting Teams 264

Bibliography and Resources 274

About the Author 280

Index 282

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