What is Consulting?
There are many definitions of consulting, and of its application to problems and challenges faced by management, i.e. of business consulting. Setting aside stylistic and semantic differences, two basic approaches to consulting emerge. The first approach takes a broad functional view of consulting.
Fritz Steele defines consulting in this way:“… any form of providing help on the content, process, or structure of a task or series of tasks where the consultant is not actually responsible for doing the task itself but is helping those who are.
Peter Block suggests that “You are consulting any time you are trying to change or improve a situation but have no direct control over the implementation… Most people in staff roles in organizations are really consultants even if they don’t officially call themselves consultants.”
These and similar definitions emphasize that consultants are helpers, or enablers, and assume that such help can be provided by people in various positions.
Thus, a manager can also act as a consultant if he or she gives advice and help to a fellow manager, or even to subordinates rather than directing and issuing orders to them. The second approach views consulting as a special professional service and emphasizes a number of characteristics that such a service must possess.
According to Larry Greiner and Robert Metzger, “business consulting is an advisory service contracted for and provided to organizations by specially trained and qualified persons who assist, In an objective and independent manner, the client organization to identify management problems, analyze such: problems, recommend solutions to these problems, and help when requested, in the implementation of solutions”.
We use more or less similar definitions by other authors, professional societies, and management consultancy institutes. So According to the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI), for example, “management consulting is the provision of independent advice and assistance about the process of management to clients with management responsibilities”.
What is consulting work?
We regard the two approaches as complementary rather than conflicting. Management consulting can be viewed either as a professional service or as a method of providing practical advice and help. There is no doubt that management consulting has developed into a specific sector of professional activity and should be treated as such.
At the same time, it is also a method of assisting organizations and executives to improve management and business practices, as well as individual and organizational performance.
We can apply this method, it is applied not only by full-time consultants but also by many technically qualified people whose main occupations may be teaching, training, research, systems development, project development and evaluation, technical assistance to developing countries, and so on.
To be effective, these people need to master consulting tools and skills. And to observe the fundamental behavioral rules of professional consulting. We have chosen to address the needs of both these target populations.
Although it has been written primarily about and for professional management consultants, the needs of other people who intervene in a consulting capacity. Even though they are not full-time consultants, are borne in mind. We start by reviewing the basic characteristics of business consulting.
What principles and approaches allow consulting to be a professional service that provides added value to clients?
Whether practiced as a full-time occupation or an ad hoc service, business consulting can be described as transferring to clients’ knowledge required for managing and operating businesses and other organizations.
To provide added value to clients, this knowledge must help the clients to be more effective in running and developing their business, public administration agency, or other non-profit organization.
Thus, the quintessential nature of consulting is to create, transfer, share, and apply management and business knowledge. “What is unique to management is that from the very beginning the consultant played a key role in the development of the practice, the knowledge and the profession of management”, wrote Peter Drucker.
The term knowledge, as used here and in most of the literature on knowledge management, encompasses experience, expertise, skills, know-how, and competencies in addition to theoretical knowledge.
Thus, knowledge transfer is concerned not only with the knowledge and understanding of facts and realities but also with approaches, methods, and capabilities required for the effective application of knowledge in particular economic, business, institutional, cultural, administrative, or organizational environments.
Business consultants can assume their roles in knowledge transfer because they have accumulated, through study and practical experience. Considerable knowledge of effective ways of acting in various management situations.
They have learned how to discern general trends and understand changes in the environment. Identify common causes of problems with a good chance of finding appropriate solutions and see and seize new opportunities.
Clearly, management consultants cannot acquire such capabilities by theoretical study only. although this continues to be an essential source of new knowledge during their whole career. So They learn from the experience of their colleagues and from the consulting firm’s accumulated know-how.
However, experience and know-how concerning management and business practices come mainly from working with clients. “Every consultant knows that his clients are his teachers and that he lives off their knowledge. The consultant does not know more. Thus, knowledge transfer is a two-way process: in enhancing their clients’ knowledge and capacity to act effectively
The consultants learn from them and enhance their own knowledge and capacity to advise their clients, current and future, more effectively, in new situations and on new issues.
The fields of knowledge embraced by management consulting relate to two critical dimensions of client organizations:
- The technical dimension concerns the nature of the management of business processes and problems faced by the client and the way in which these problems can be analyzed and resolved.
- The human dimension, i.e. interpersonal relationships in the client organization, people’s feelings about the problem at hand and their interest in improving the current situation, and the interpersonal relationship between the consultant and the client.
For methodological reasons, our guide will often deal separately with these two dimensions. In consulting, So it is essential to be aware of these two sides of problems in organizations. But mere awareness is not enough.
Ideally, the consultant should choose approaches that uncover and help understand both the technical and the human issues involved and that helps the client to act on both of them. In practice, however, many consultants tend to be concerned more with one or the other dimension of client organizations.