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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

Description

The Practice of Professional Coaching

Change is the life-blood of consulting just as organizations endure only through successful change. The reality of this mutual need lies at the heart of what consulting is all about. Consultants solve problems created by the powerful forces of change in an organization's environment and in so doing, create change themselves.

The Practice of Professional Consulting is a comprehensive examination of what has been called "the world's newest profession." In this practical resource Edward Verlander offers an overview of the industry and includes the most useful processes, tools, and skills used by successful consultants to produce solutions for their clients. The book also reveals why consulting is a growing and attractive career option.

The best practices used by leading consulting firms are included in the book as well as the capabilities skillful consultant use in each stage of engagement. Verlander also recommends ways to ensure a consultant can solve a client's problems in a systematic, professional way. At the very heart of the book is the emphasis he puts on what is needed to become a truly trusted consultant.

Filled with a wealth of must-have information from a wide range of consulting professionals, the book includes: a model of the consulting cycle; a diagnostic instrument for assessing consulting roles; ideas of how to develop political intelligence to navigate client organizations; tools for managing consulting meetings, risk assessment, and skills transfer; techniques in communications, emotional intelligence, presentations, and listening; and much more.

Written for anyone wishing to start a consulting business, new employees at established consulting firms, facilitators of consulting training programs, and faculty at business schools, this important resource provides an easy way to understand the stages, roles, and tasks of consulting found in any type of consulting and it provides simple and easy-to-use techniques and templates for implementation.

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Table of Contents

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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Author Information

THE AUTHOR

Edward Verlander is chairman of Verlander, Wang & Co., LLC, an international management consulting firm that delivers services in strategy, organization change, leadership development, and executive coaching. Clients are world-wide and embrace the Fortune 500, numerous European technology companies and, most recently, the public and private education sectors in China. He also teaches MBA-level business consulting at Long Island University and has taught management at Columbia and Hofstra Universities, as well as in the business schools at Jilin University and Nanjing University in China.

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