Much like within any aspect of life, ambiguity can be a common characteristic found in consulting. Vague requests with little direction often define the industry, presenting an initially intimidating and overwhelming job to be done. Amidst this, however, the client remains central and constant to the operations.
While strategies, thought processes, and knowledge unique to the field can greatly benefit one’s approach to consulting projects, questionably the most crucial aspect to the process can often be overlooked or not fully realized: understanding the client. While this may seem obvious, this aspect must be enacted in its entirety to reap its full benefits, including fully understanding relevant markets, stakeholders, and the constraints and expectations of the client. While it is our duty as consultants to break down tasks, make observations, and present strategies, it is extremely important to refrain from dominating the conversation, allowing the client to provide insight on these areas to enhance our efficiency and effectiveness in approaching the project.
This idea of understanding the client can be viewed as a beautiful marriage between customer and coworker. As such, processes relevant to both should be enacted to greater assess their needs. Already conducting such deep market research relevant to the task, similar procedures should also be enacted to the client themselves to gain a deeper understanding to determine if and how relevant or extraneous factors could affect pains, gains, or fit, providing a more holistic view. For consulting in particular, making assumptions is not only naive but also potentially detrimental to the job at hand, with constant questioning demonstrating a sign of deeper understanding and maturity rather than inexperience. Maintaining this constant line of communication with the client is essential not only in satisfying your client’s expectations, but also in effectively and efficiently managing your own time by avoiding any misunderstanding in an industry which often witnesses hard work going to waste. Ultimately, keeping this constant line of communication and extending this curious arm will allow us to continue strong on our current project throughout the upcoming semester.