Why Consulting Skills?
What Do We Mean By "Consultant" ?
Peter Block, in his seminal book Flawless Consulting, explains that you are a consultant if you are in a role to help change a person, team or organization, but you have no direct control to make that change happen. So you are a consultant, whether you are in the role of coach, trainer, facilitator, advisor or mentor – or a fellow group member who is assigned to help your group to change.
Technical Expertise is Not Enough
Technical expertise can be very powerful for using certain procedures to improve various technical functions, such as finances, marketing and computer systems. Similarly, strategic planning facilitators might be helpful when using the same limited model of strategic planning for certain types of organizations and in certain situations. However, in today’s rapidly changing organizations with highly diverse personnel, planners needs consultants who know a variety of different models and approaches to suit the nature and needs of their organizations.
Interpersonal Skills Are Not Enough
Interpersonal skills can be very powerful in cultivating the wisdom, expertise and participation of people. However, expecting them to use those skills to solve complex problems and facilitate challenging planning is a bit like expecting them to use interpersonal skills to fix their automobiles, with little knowledge of how their automobiles work or the procedures needed to fix them. Organizations need consultants who understand – and are not reluctant to talk about – structures and strategies in all types of organizations.
Successful Consultants Also Need Consulting Skills
To be most effective in addressing today’s complex problems in organizations, today’s consultants need an understanding of consulting and how to authentically engage with clients. They need an understanding of organizations, their parts and how those parts work together. They need a clear and systematic framework for analyzing complex problems and then guiding and supporting clients through changing their organizations — and sometimes themselves.