February 5, 2008

News & Opinion: Ask 8cr! - Flawless Consulting

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 5:26 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Ask 8cr! is a section of our blog used as a forum to address the kinds of issues and challenges people are having in the workplace. We take these issues and apply a business book we feel offers a viable solution. Others then chime in via the comments section. The person with the selected challenge gets a free copy of the book, but everyone who reads these posts, wins. What's your challenge at work? Send it to me at jon(a)800ceoread(dot)com.
Today's challenge deals with how a consultant can better manage quality vs. quantity workload:

"I'm an independent consultant. My challenge is knowing when (and how) to be selective in taking projects. To be able to build value by knowing which projects to take (so that I am not overwhelmed with work; and I can do my best on the projects that I do take). With the economy the way it is, I don't always feel that I can turn down work." - Greg

Sometimes we might feel like we are on an island at work; that many decisions rest on our shoulders alone. That might be the case, but consider being an independent consultant, where you wear many hats: salesperson, accountant, guru and speaker. That is a lot of work, so it is easy to understand Greg's challenge.

Fortunately, we have Peter Block's book Flawless Consulting. Known as the "consultant's bible," this almost 400 page book is packed with pretty much everything a consultant needs to know - even if you don't consider yourself a consultant, the book provides a lot of insight for anyone who offers services to clients.
Regarding Greg's challenge, Peter Block states:
"Consultants should make their own decisions on which projects to accept. We should say no to projects as often as we say yes. There are many reasons to back away from business. Clients often want us to treat a symptom. They think training or restructuring will solve their problem, when it will only postpone resolution. Say no when the chemistry between you and the client is not good. Be careful when the client has expectations of you that you cannot fulfill."

The other 300+ pages of the book talk about everything related to being a flawless consultant, from contracting, client resistance, collecting data, managing feedback, and engagement, to making promises, how to show care, and ethical issues. The book also contains helpful checklists and case studies, making this a true reference guide for anyone making a living by helping others with business advice.
I'm sending Greg a copy today. As thorough and informative as it is, I am sure it will provide answers for him far beyond his challenge, and become a guide he refers to again and again. It's just that good.