You’re correct to point out that there are lots of consulting firms “out there,” including large and solid ones, and a myriad of small ones, some of which are run by friends or ex-colleagues.
At Schlumberger I was famous, or perhaps infamous, for speaking my mind. People said “let’s ask Claude – if there’s anything missing or incorrect, he’ll tell us.” Intellectual honesty is my most prized virtue, and I will tell you what I honestly think about a process, a product, or a strategy. And then I will help you improve it if I find it lacking. I may be a little less flattering at first than the usual consultant, who will tell you that you’re right regardless what you say, but it will get my client faster to the point of making improvements. I’ll admit that it may not be the best approach for people who want to hire a consultant in order to be told that they’re right 🙂
Secondly, I greatly value knowledge, and who doesn’t, but I think knowledge is more powerful when it is shared. This has several positive implications for my clients:
- First, it means that I will share my own knowledge unsparingly
- Second, it means that I will help people get to the level of knowledge that may allow them to continue without me! I will never retain knowledge for myself in order to make myself indispensible, because that would totally violate my strong sense of ethics
- Third, it means that I will, especially if I consult for a client on Knowledge Management, put in place for you the processes and organization that will really allow you to make available to everyone in the organization the knowledge that anyone has.
And thirdly, I believe in connections, or networks if you prefer. Between LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, and other networks, I am connected to about a thousand people right now. Several hundred of these people are potential partners: I recognize that they may have specific knowledge that I don’t have, and as I keep in touch with them, I hope they value the specific knowledge I have. This puts me in an excellent position to recommend the right person or company to help you. I will never sell you something I cannot do, but I may introduce someone from my network to you and say, “let me put in place the framework for you, and my colleague Joe or Mary can help you by doing such and such part of what you need done.” I think this will make my clients much happier than if I claimed to know everything.