February 5, 2008
News & Opinion: Ask 8cr! - Flawless Consulting
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.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.