Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Several times in the past two weeks, folks have written, in public posts here in the Cove and over in the ASQ Forums, as well as several private messages to me, inquiring whether the business climate is so far gone that there is no market for consultants.

My position on the topic is this:
Business is slow and consultants have to work much harder at getting contracts through marketing, including networking and individual solicitation of prospects. The bright side is there are a lot of organizations that desperately NEED a good, even great, consultant, but their executives capable of signing an engagement contract with a consultant are so overwhelmed by fighting fires they need an extra push to put the idea of hiring a consultant on their radar.

Remember - consulting is a business. The essence of the business is helping clients improve. The marketing focus must continually be on executives at those companies to make them realize consultants can be a fast way to bring in and implement improvement knowledge for them and their employees.

Early in this thread, we talked about the need to run a consultancy as a business, creating reserve accounts to cover fallow periods. If you are a long-time consultant, now is the time to be dipping into those reserves to pep up your marketing. If you are new to consulting, it's a plain fact you probably need more start up capital to carry you until you reach profitability.

If your marketing program isn't generating bona fide leads and prospects, it's time to re-evaluate that program. If you are getting leads and prospects, but can't close to get a contract, you need to evaluate why. Sometimes, the answers to our marketing and closing problems require us to seek help from a consultant. If we let pride or bias get in our way of hiring consultants ourselves, isn't that the kind of thing we want a consultant to help us overcome in our own prospects?

At any rate, the thread is open. Let's hear some good ideas to help kick start a moribund consulting business that was previously successful in terms of satisfied customers.
 
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amanbhai

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

The topic is really good. I must appriciate one who has initiated the topic. :thanks:
 
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zamclachia

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Wes,
very good thread. It has given me Food-for-thought. It has taken me a long time to identify, within myself, what my weaknesses are. I am a typical technocrat. Technically sound and am able to convey ideas and knowledge to an audience. Business orientation = FUBAR.

Thanks for the thread. I am going to see a business consultant next week.
:agree1:
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Wes,
very good thread. It has given me Food-for-thought. It has taken me a long time to identify, within myself, what my weaknesses are. I am a typical technocrat. Technically sound and am able to convey ideas and knowledge to an audience. Business orientation = FUBAR.

Thanks for the thread. I am going to see a business consultant next week.
:agree1:
Thanks for sharing. Let us know how it works out!
 
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sujal_amin

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Mr. Wes Bucey are you heading consulting firm or working for any company?
 
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Phiobi

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future? - YES IT IS :D

I've quit my job and just waiting for the middle of May to come around and I will be starting on my own as a consultant....
 
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Steve B

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Thanks Wes for the informative and well-written posts on the subject.

I have been consulting for 19 years, if I can add anything to what Wes has said it would be -

  • 'Know when to fold 'em' - very true! Don't chase the money, as a non-committed client can hurt you in the long run ('he's useless, he's been working with them for 2 yrs and they're still not certified..'). You're a consultant, not a miracle worker. Focus on the work, and the rest will come.
  • Consulting in tough times - can be even more rewarding, as committed clients look towards process improvements, reviewing and shaking things up. You may lose some business, but that often tends to be those clients you are not that sad to lose anyway. Maybe offer to do a simple project at a potential client to prove your worth
  • Create awareness - a simple newsletter to all clients and potential clients is a very effective way of marketing your company
  • Maintain enthusiasm within existing clients - start a project! How can we improve this process? Let's do an exercise on the scrap rates, reducing machining non conformances, whatever. Visit a difficult client with the customer or a problematic supplier (often a potential customer!)
  • Understand the client - before diving head first into Policies and Procedures, take the time to understand what the client does, maybe visit a site or customer
  • Understand processes & how ISO 9001 relates to processes - speaking locally, many projects that I have taken over from others have failed because of this. It goes back to understanding the customer, the product, their processes, their market and their client's needs
  • Keep senior management involved - report back to them monthly on what's happening, improvements implemented, etc. and continue to do so even if your communications aren't acknowledged
  • Good Auditors/Quality Managers don't necessarily make good consultants - you need to be persuasive, persistent and able to visualise 'systems'
  • Add value - have a positive approach to your work and the client, show enthusiasm
Quality consulting is a job that can be as rewarding as you want it to be, particularly since the move away from the procedure-based systems of old to the process-based systems and management principles of ISO 9001.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

It's been a while since folks have posted to this thread, but the log shows a number of registered visitors have visited in recent days and no telling how many unregistered ones come across this thread when searching for advice on opening or kickstarting a consulting business.

It occurs to me one of the most important points a consultant has to get across to a prospective client in order to be hired is that
A good consultant will deliver much more value than the fee he charges!

Many posts we see here in the Cove have a recurring theme where the poster is afraid or unable to convince his organization to pay for a good, competent, effective consultant to help implement a quality management system or solve any other management crisis. Instead, the organization will fritter away time and salaries on ineffective attempts to adapt kits and other types of quality documentation downloaded from the internet. (There is probably a lot of fear that anyone recommending a consultant will be deemed incompetent and lose his own job.)

The problem many organizations encounter when inexperienced amateur are dealing with such documentation is that they substitute
isogesis or eisegesis for true exegesis when trying to interpret and use the documents.

Here are the bare bones definitions of the above words plus MY EXAMPLE in red. (These terms are usually applied to biblical research and I am using them ironically here because so many folks attempt to regard quality documentation, especially ISO documentation, with something approaching religious fervor.)

ex·e·ge·sis (
Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?
k
Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?
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Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?
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Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?
Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?
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Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?
s)n. pl. ex·e·ge·ses (-s
Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?
z) Critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text.
(In the case of quality documentation, think of guidance documents published by the authors or teams of professional committees as something akin to the "director's commentary" sometimes included on a DVD - you get an analysis of what interpretation the author or director intended AFTER he has seen some people get a wrong idea.)



[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Isogesis: Reading something into a document. One starts with a belief and searches a document for supporting passages. Often used with reference to the Bible. A potential hazard is that the interpreter may quote a verse out of context without considering the rest of the passage or the rest of the Bible.
and its companion word
[/FONT]eisegesis eisegesis [ˌaɪsəˈdʒiːsɪs]n pl -ses [-siːz] (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) the interpretation of a text, esp a biblical text, using one's own ideas Compare exegesis

(As I learned the words many years ago, there was a nuance of distinction between isogesis (someone starts out with an idea and then searches for words or phrases out of context which support that idea) and eisegesis (someone reads a phrase and interprets it completely differently from the way the author intended or the way most other people interpret it.)

In quality documents, an isogesis example may be where a management representative (for ISO registration) longs to be an actual manager and be part of the decision making process in management review and so searches until he finds this phrase
"5.5.2 Management Representative
Top management shall appoint a member of management who . . ."

and juxtaposes it with this phrase
"5.6.1 Management Review
Top management shall review the organization's quality management system, at planned intervals . . ."

to infer that he, the MR is not only part of top management, but is the one to plan and lead the periodic management reviews.

ISO's guidance document, however, says something quite different
"3. Auditing Management Review
ISO 9001 requires top management to review the organization's quality management system, at planned intervals, to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. The review could be carried out at a separate meeting but this is not a requirement of the standard. There are many ways in which top management can review the quality management system such as receiving and reviewing a report generated by the management representative or other personnel, electronic communication or as part of regular management meetings where issues such as budgets and targets are also discussed."


In quality documents, an eisegesis example may be where a management representative (for ISO registration) reads this passage
"4.2.3 Control of Documents
Documents required by the quality management system shall be controlled."

and decides that "control" means all documents must funnel through him and no one in the organization may possess or even read any document in the system without his express permission. He simply ignores other phrases in the Standard and guidance documents which go on to explain the controls are only those necessary to the organization's purposes and most folks would understand differences in level of security required by different organizations, but we still have folks who want to impose "top secret" status on the process for sealing shipping cartons of nuts and bolts.
 
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