Business Consulting: My Journey To Become The Greatest Ever

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Consulting on paper sounds extremely easy, doesn’t it? Imagine your job is about finding ways to solve business problems and leave with the fees without caring about the outcome. At the same time, somebody else takes all the responsibility of its execution and nobody can blame you. Crazy right? I used to think exactly like that 3 years ago.

They used to say, comprehension, broader understanding, and strategic planning for solving problems, is simply textbook to say the least. Yes, the part that requires least patience and provides immediate gratification appears to be the simplest “what a surprise”, right? No. Even though that’s not true, that’s exactly how majority of people think.

Even if we skip studying hundreds of case studies, the popular belief is way too be far from the truth. A consultant in this day and age, has to research independently, analyse loads of data, create a blueprint of strategic plan, and get involved with each step of its implementation depending upon the project.

However, what sparks my interest in consulting is the fact that every case study and every problem is unique in its own right. A few minute variations in the system, methodology, or execution may cause a butterfly effect and transform the issue into a completely new problem. And worse, maybe a bigger and greater problem, alas! A nightmare. A total nightmare.

Morality:

Throughout my corporate experience, I kept noticing these gaps in organizations that nobody wanted to fill. Let it be HR related, accounts related, marketing or operations related. I mean everybody could see it but nobody wished to get involved in them for it not being part of their job. With these operational, structural, and fundamental problems in place, I saw companies perform poorly and the people who knew about it deliberately kept avoiding them.

It kept awake at nights. I’ve heard things like, “In the corporate world, what bothers you outside your department is none of your business.”

In fact, “if you have a problem with something that’s not on your desk then it’s not even your problem” was a regular catchphrase. Even the HR departments had carelessly answered with “Don’t come at us complaining about things out of your primary responsibilities. Don’t even bother wasting time on them, focus on the things on your table.”

This made sense, for a blind-minded, not for me though. No wonder I quit working in those environments, expanded my horizons, and devoted myself and my time into studying consulting inside out.

Pretty surreal. The journey took me through various twists and turns and I’ve successfully gotten a decently fair grip on most of the things that matter to me. Problem solving is one of them. Consulting is not a career choice for me, it was a lifestyle choice. I chose consulting for the type of person I am. I would like to believe that consulting is as much a personal endeavor as it is a duty to serve others businesses.

Why I Chose Consulting?

Businesses or not, consulting in my eyes is no different than making a temporary contract of owning responsibility. In this imaginary contract, a consultant is given access to limited information and is expected to deliver nothing but a well-planned strategy to solve most if not every problem there is or might be!

What seems practically impossible is the core of all brave endeavors. A consultant has to be prepared to help others acquire and excel at uncharted territories. These are my thoughts about my career choice however, I witness a vastly different reality. Mostly filled with impractical and pompous talks. There are some advertisements from consulting firms that made consulting look like a PR/marketing job for themselves.

Consultants attempting to understand and evaluate a new problem often portray it to the world as an adventure. They say things like, “Oh, I’m so happy I’ve got a brand-new learning opportunity to figure out something huge! What an amazing chance to grow.”
I am not saying, it is not, but it is definitely not just that. There’s more to it. Always.

Consulting is everywhere.

Consulting is everywhere, Some are simple and some are complex. In the complex category, every problem-solver hates the invisible patterns hidden behind new problems. I will explain what I mean by invisible patterns shortly, for now just stick with me. Every consultant, decision maker, and strategic planner hates the unknown but at the same time craves to know it. It’s like the shadows we see in a dark alley that put fear into us but also put incredible curiosity to turn around or use a torch.

The analogy here is that most people are pretending to be unafraid of the shadows and claim to have overcome all fears. But we all rush and have shaky hands while switching on a torch in the dark sometimes, right? Maybe not for some world-class consulting firms. Maybe due to the aftereffect of seeming less impressive admitting to be afraid of new problems. Let’s just say we’re all trained to be overconfidently stiff.

And sorry but I refuse to lie, lie to clients, or to myself. Indeed, the drive, inspiration, and efforts to get better increase significantly under a healthy amount of pressure. But I strongly believe that, refusing to admit fear of unknown danger is close to denouncing being human. We’re all afraid of newer problems however, not acknowledging it puts us into an unrealistic position with unclear beginning, and a higher pedestal than required.

This is one of the gravest mistakes I see consultants committing blatantly. I would not call it over-confidence for the sake of being professional, however, we all know no consultant is perfect and no consulting firm has all solutions for all problems at all times, every time. Then why do we have to pretend like we do? Why do I see the industry filled with impractical promises thrown here and there in consulting advertisements? I am not sure.

But I know for a fact that a morally driven ethical approach to consulting might be slow and unimpressive at first, but will hold its ground firmly.

My theories, approach, and ideology are non-conventional however, I’d like to put them to test here and everywhere I go:

1. Start With The Heart

Just to clarify, I do not intend to degrade the hustlers’ mentality or even the highly calculative people. In fact, I respect their choices to move the way they like. Who else would know other than their clients how well that ends? I wish to separate my approach from the both and as an individual I strongly believe that every part of decision making first and foremost should go through our human comprehension including emotions and thoughts before we begin the hardcore analysis. Therefore, I believe every consulting project should start from the heart.

Get into your client shoes, feel their pain of dealing with a difficult situation where they need help. Empathize. Before you take-in their business details, before the knowledge transfer, before even registering their problems, I say why don’t we sit together and get to know gravity of their situation? Their mission and vision?

Before we jump right into the technicalities of their business how about we empathize? Nobody wishes to have problems and consulting, i.e, asking for a 3rd person’s help would be the last option any business would take. Every business intends to be self-sufficient and rightly so, maintains independence. However, my point is, our consultation should rank up in their top 2 choices willingly and happily without hesitation. What if, for the purpose of being “professional and practical”, we’re missing the main intention why someone would need consulting in the first place. It is to help. To extend their reach and maximize their efficiency, to find out their untapped potential, and save them from unforeseen troubles.

2. Transform (New to Old and Qualitative to Quantitative)

As I mentioned before, newer problems are riskier, unlikeable, and much more difficult to solve than the old ones. We are in a better situation when we encounter the same problem 2nd time around. It gets better even though it might be tough the 2nd time too but not as scary. And the 3rd time onwards, we’d all agree that it’s definitely a better problem to have than a newer one.

Logic –

The logic behind it is simple, the fear of unknown fades away when similar problems keep arising and all we have to manage are a few modifications to the previous plan. However, when the problem is completely new and different, one must try his/her best to convert the problem into something recognizable.

If there is a new problem, for obvious reasons we might require more resources, attempts, and time to better equip our clients. However, if we can manage to transform a new problem into an old one, the trouble would be lessened.

For example –

A new qualitative problem can be divided into bits and pieces of tasks which aim to provide old quantitative outcomes will be a faster and more efficient way of solving it rather than playing on a new terrain. In these tasks, smaller separate teams shall pursue a bigger and common goal. Dividing a humongous challenge into small dissections reduces their intensity and provides a holistic approach to details. Now, due to the targeted changes in its management, the newer problem gets converted into an older one and hence becomes easier to manage. In every such problem, transforming the new situation into a familiar one allows us more time and flexibility to achieve desired output.

Limitation –

We might miss the opportunity to learn a new way of solving a new problem for time being however, the time, resources, and efficiency will increase significantly.

Overcome Limitation –

By using the above solution temporarily for minimizing impact and optimizing resources however, immediately begin on working for a long-term solution in solving a new problem in a newer way. Indeed, it means double the work but hey, we all want what’s best for our clients, don’t we?

3. Inevitable problems require a minimalist approach

Inevitability covers a wide spectrum of types however, for the purpose of simplification one may identify them on the basis of their nature.

Predictable

Predictable Inevitable problems are those that we can estimate when and where they will arise. These problems are easier to manage due to our timely knowledge.

Unpredictable

Unpredictable Inevitable problems are those that we do not see coming but we are sure that they will arise at some point of time without any prior intimation.

Solutions to inevitable problems should not be far off the invisible patterns of the problem. The invisible patterns are nothing but the trickled down effect of variables that caused inevitable problems to occur. The variables involved in inevitable problems are always fixed and limited in numbers hence they can be targeted and manipulated if identified accurately, provided with right strategic plan, and flexible re-distribution of resources.

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