Do you think consultants need a makeover?
Undoubtedly the matter of how we make a living now is quite different compared to even a decade ago. Consider this also: intelligent machines may well prompt a 30% loss of current jobs over the next twenty years. Is this a bad thing? Only, if you don’t find more imaginative ways to earn a living, or are not being mentored to cope with continual change and deal with the ‘mixed portfolio’ style of working.
It’s not science fiction, it’s fact!
Technology has facilitated shifts in our day-to-day lives we might have dismissed as just fanciful science fiction not so long ago. Attitudes, opportunities, and perspectives have been totally transformed. The global workforce must have flexibility, agility, and creativity to evolve and most importantly, thrive. The question is: who is going to prepare the next generation of business people for this constant state of change?
Germinate and die in weeks
With technology, digital marketing, and the Internet, ideas can morph into business practice within moments. They can die just as quickly. Harnessing potential is a vital life skill. Let’s face it, we are all 5 times more likely to stop earning a living in a conventional way as tech moves on apace. When you consider only 7% of Gen-Y works for a Fortune 500 company then something is at foot. Brian Solis called it: a need for an ‘intrapreneurial’ culture. There’s certainly a need for ‘something else’ in business.
We need a new brand of consultant
Why is this the case? As software advances, computers are learning to undertake increasingly complex jobs and also eliminate menial tasks. People will need other ways to earn. Yet, however, clever a robot might be, will they have the capacity to train, inspire and mentor the new breed of entrepreneur, ‘intrapreneur’ and self-starter? Human interaction and social intelligence are unlikely to be replaced by robots any time soon. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change how we offer mentoring or consultancy. Isn’t it time we devised a new consultant model? It’s actually happening right now.
Historic consultancy models are dead
Perhaps this sounds provocative but consultants really need to be rebranded. Often the stereotype is an image that should be consigned to history. Isn’t it time the role of consultant reflected the diversity of business people and businesses per se, that operate in the now? Isn’t it time for them to be less formal, more approachable and more willing to listen?
Experience and knowledge are important and still a valuable asset.
But the ability to remain agile in the face of profound changes, to be both reactive and proactive is of equal importance. When we cope with change it’s essential to have certain characteristics in place. Are any would be business people or start-up owners actually prepared for this?
Psychologists Robert Kriegel and David Brandt (1997) suggested that passion, resourcefulness, optimism, adventurousness, adaptability and tolerance for ambiguity make change, risk and uncertainty much easier to cope with. How do we prepare for this state of flux?
It’s now a new breed of consultant is useful.
Development, growth, agility, and performance are all important. But it’s also about partnerships and on-going relationships.
So what do we expect from the role of a consultant in 2019? Here are a few suggestions:
In 2019 the new breed of consultant should:
Provide a platform for creativity first and foremost. Start-ups and entrepreneurs need to feel excited and challenged by possibilities and new experiences while maintaining intensity and determination.
Offer expertise, insight and possible Angel investment to start-ups and entrepreneurs to promote confidence.
Help existing technology enterprises with advisory and consultancy services on key strategic matters that typify contemporary business practice
Seek to understand before being understood.
Have a strong vision, strategic capability, and experience of operating in matrix and cross-functional environments
Understand and interpret competitive, challenging and changing markets while understanding, managing and advising on surprise and uncertainty.
Be insightful and focused on driving measurable outcomes for business while being able to shift expectations and advice in the face of new realities and also rebounding from adversity quickly.
Possess a strong sense of urgency and offer tough love to ensure action is taken to maintain momentum
Possess the ability to simplify complexities, offer a fresh pair of eyes Be a change catalyst.
Prepare bespoke frameworks to elicit maximum progress and results from strategy, structure, management and operations.
If you take these ten things as a base-line, contemporary consultants need to consider just how business has shifted and will continue to change. ‘We all know customers and clients want experiences’ as Jim Gilmore and Joe Pine stated 4 years ago, in their book Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage.
Therefore the new breed of consultants needs to be accessible.
They should be prepared to roll up their sleeves and get real. Consultancy is about looking at context, time, niche and the future. There may well be lessons to learn from the past but the ‘one size fits all’ approach has vanished. As Sherlock Holmes once said: “It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” This is the fate of the new consultant. When you consider 70% of Fortune 1000 companies expecting to fail the pressure is on to deliver, to change and to maintain freshness. Like businesses generally, consultants also need to begin with, empathy, something no robot is likely to have anytime soon.