by Jill Jitima
Vice President at Charles Aris Inc.
Companies in the United States spent more than $50 billion on consulting firms in 2014, according to Source Information Services – and all indications are that 2015 is going to be even higher. What is it that these management consultants do to add so much value that companies are willing to pay for their services?
Charles Aris Inc. has placed more than 350 strategy candidates in corporate America, private equity and professional services firms. Our team of search consultants has had the chance to work with myriad organizations which have engaged the services of the top management consulting firms, and they consistently tell us that there are five reasons why strategy consultants add immense value to their businesses.
Before I reveal those reasons, which firms are we actually talking about here? We’re referring to the strategy firms led by McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company. I would be remiss, however, if I did not also mention L.E.K. Consulting, Strategy&, Oliver Wyman, Parthenon-EY, Monitor-Deloitte and A.T. Kearney.
When these firms are hired by companies, two things are typically true: A problem needs to be solved and it needs to be solved quickly. Here’s how the consultants make it happen:
(1) Data-driven decisions
Consultants use data to make their decisions, aiming to take emotion out of the equation. Good consultants let the numbers do the talking and then ultimately find the answer. Even for the simplest of decisions – should our logo be red or blue? – consultants decide based on the strength of the data. Given the sheer volume of data being generated in the 21st century, senior executives can be more effective in their own decision making when informed by strategic teams of consultants who figure out which data points matter and how to interpret them.
Consultants are smart, creative thinkers; they thrive in figuring out how to help you solve complex problems in a manner that is often creative and sometimes unique to your organization. Nothing gives a consultant more pleasure than a customized solution that they crafted from scratch. On the flip side, nothing is more boring to a consultant than pulling something off the shelf and implementing it. The best consultants are those who can create a customized solution for each of their clients’ challenges.
(3) Tangible solutions
An excellent consultant is good at coming up with solutions which companies can actually implement. At some point, theory needs to be practical enough to translate to action in the real world. Outstanding consultants find ways to create solutions you can actually incorporate into your business. Most consulting firms abide by the Monday Morning Rule, which effectively states that any good solution is one that can be implemented on any given Monday when the client’s team members are kicking off their workweek. The best consultants understand that a “perfect answer” that cannot be implemented is effectively a failure right out of the box.
Consultants are trained to get to the answer quickly. That doesn’t mean, however, that they skimp on thoroughness. Instead, consultants simply work longer hours to create leverage for critical projects which need to be completed in a short amount of time. Consultants aren’t afraid of an all-nighter; they know better than others that, every once in a while, they’ll need to pull one off to achieve organizational objectives on time. It also helps that most consultants are lightning-quick thinkers, so they can get more done in the same amount of time relative to the average Joe.
(5) Presentation skills
Consultants are trained to take complex subject matter and present it in a way that can be universally understood throughout any organization. In many cases, an implementation plan requires effort from people at all levels, from the C-Suite to the feet on the street and everything in between. Consultants know how to put together presentations which serve as inspiration for all – and how to spur the right level of commitment such initiatives deserve and require.
I hope you find this helpful! If you have any questions or comments, please shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
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