There are different ways to deliver consulting work or to deliver value as a service. Some of those ways could look like any one of the following:

  • Advisory – The consulting firm will visit the clients’ premises do some thorough analysis and prepare a playbook with a set of recommendations for the client to then implement (should they wish to).
  • Training – The consulting firm can train the people of the client organization in new skills or methods which are then (hopefully) applied later on in the course of work.
  • Done-For-You – The consulting firm deploys its people and resources to build, manage or operate an initiative for the client.
  • Catalyze/Empower – The consulting firm works with the people of the client organization directly on the projects and obstacles they are currently faced with to see fresh possibilities, think newly, and take unprecedented actions.

No single one of these methods is better than the others, but they do differ. All have their own merits and each method is likely called for depending on the intended outcome. Some things to bear in mind with each are as follows;

  • In an advisory method, the thinking is all done for you. Perhaps you don’t have the time, the skills, or the training necessary to get what you need, in which case you can get others to do this for you. This is a prescriptive approach with the actual implementation then left to the organization.
  • In training people, method two, one pitfall is that people will simply take what they have learned and fit it into their already existing ways of thinking. In this way, nothing much changes. The other pitfall to this approach is that the person being trained may not know what it actually looks like to put this theoretical knowledge into practice. Again they can only see from their own world or experience what it would be to apply it.
  • With Done-For-You the responsibility of implementation lies with the hired firm. This can be beneficial again if your organization does not possess the needed resources or expertise. However, any learning or experience is then lost once the hired firm completes the project and leaves.

One method does stand apart and that is the fourth method, catalyzing people. In a recent client meeting, one of the participants acknowledged this unique approach calling it a “people helping themselves” approach versus “Here’s a 200-page analysis we have prepared that you can study.” He appreciated that he was given the freedom and responsibility for the project. After all, it was his project! When you can empower the people of an organization to see new actions and take ownership for their results, that is the power of the fourth method. This has a more transformative impact and staying power than other methods of consulting and learning.

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