SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL CONSULTANCY
(A satire)

By
Prof R K Gupta
BE (Hons), MBA, FIE
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
E-mail :
cityju@rediffmail.com / rkgupta_India@hotmail.com
URL :
www.Geocities.com/rkgupta_india

"There is a consultant in each of us"; could not be more true statement. All of us have acted as free consultants or advisers sometime at some place to some body, mostly unsolicited, in almost all walks of knowledge areas-be it medicine, divorce, education or even astrology.

But when it comes to a paid consultancy the matter gets a bit serious. It is more so, because even good consultants don't get fully paid at the end of the run.

There is good scope for young and old and not so old to enter this profession, which has estimated Rs 10,000 Million annual market in India itself. Our brilliant MBAs from top B-school stand good chance to enter this career.

Glimpses of great consultants:

The other day, we had requested a meeting with allegedly a very successful and globe trotting consultant at our head office at 4.30 pm sharp, repeat sharp, since the consultant could hardly find 45 minutes for us between a very occupying schedule. Well, whatever that meant.

In walked Mr. X our consultant, a golden spectacle frame dangling from his neck, at 4.30 pm sharp, with kind of out-of-the-world look, wearing a bit odd looking clothes as far as our office norms were concerned. Later, we learnt that he was member of Noida Golf club.  

I stole a glimpse of his portfolio bag, which carried stickers of several airlines, Swissair, JAL, AI, KLM… and a couple of more. He was truly glob trotting. But, could any one conclusively decide by the stickers that he actually traveled by these? And where? For example, one can fly with Air India in midnight flight from Mumbai to Delhi.

Mr. X further told me that his schedule was awfully busy and so was of his wife. The last time they both met, was at Pune airport.

Another budding consultant became a consultant himself on advice of his consultant friend. His practice is now flourishing. We don't know for sure if it applies to his past clients' business. Actually what happened was that this former executive was about to commit suicide due to his failure in jobs since last 15 years. The sales graph was dipping continuously and he was thrice dressed down and warned this time by his MD. This friend advised him to become a consultant and let others try this alternative relief. He is now doing well as sales channel consultant.

Another consultant, who is also a professor of HRM now, has impressive client list in HR consultancy after having failed to stabilize in more than one and half dozen corporate companies, being unable to fit in the team every where he worked, and so used to get sacked. Some people do learn by past mistakes and rise to godhood.

A consultant in nutshell is an expert of the field or area created out of his own imagination. But some consultants do work in traditional/common areas too.

Various names are given to these experts: Consultant, Adviser, Coach, Guide, Tutor, or a Mentor.

The important feature is that consultants don't actually participate in execution of the task itself. A music consultant for example, will never play Sitar or Piano, but will sit as a judge of classical music contest. They will tell you how to do some thing. Or what will happen if you do that. Mostly they tell you the things like; your sales graph is going down.  But, if you ask why, and how it can be pulled up, they will ordinarily refer you to another consultant. Just like a Radiologist in a hospital or a GP in a clinic, does, send you to a specialist. But most of the times, you need only to be shown the mirror. Most consultants play role in this common sense area. After all, unless a Doctor, or a beautiful nurse tells you about your fever, will you ever believe you were suffering with one? Ah, it's so reassuring once a nurse says so.

Most consultants refer to themselves (The consultancy organization) as "WE" that normally includes only the consultant himself, his secretary, and his telephone.

A consultant must have some qualities and functioning style to survive and grow:

- You must enroll as a member of some consultants' association, preferably foreign based. For instance, a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) from UK. 

- If you have a degree or diploma from an IIM, IIT or any such Institute of National repute, your practice will start easily and smoothly. You can also do some short-term course from these institutes, if you don't have regular diploma, from there. Or better still secure one from many non-accredited FOREIGN offerings on Internet after paying $2000, if you can afford. For example, University of Midlands, Department of Strategic Business.
How and why should any one check it out? 

- It is important for you to highlight your forthcoming or just concluded visit to a foreign country, may be just Singapore or Dubai. It adds awe to your credentials. But, if you can't actually make it, no problems. Now a days, email is quite handy. You can always email stating that you are doing so from Hong Kong. But it is better if you actually visit. So you can tell about a few popular shopping spots, because that is only things that even your clients remember after visits to such destinations. If you have been to Malaysia or the like don't forget to mention some famous massage parlor. It will delight your client.

- You should develop a Partial List of clients where you gave real or imaginary consultancy. Odds are only 5 to 95 that any client would actually check out.

- Always use the plural-"We". Though this "we" may include you and only your telephone.

- "Networking" is the one art you must be good at. If you don't have aptitude for that, you are not going to be successful in consultancy even though you may be real expert in your consultancy area.

- Always reconnoiter a day earlier, the office or place you are supposed to visit, to get rich ideas about location, layout and type of culture that organization has. You can park your car (if you have one) in front of the building with sandwiches and hamburgers well stocked in the car. Ensure that during meeting with client your secretary or wife calls on Mobile to disturb you for urgent office tasks at least thrice. You may even exclaim in its mouthpiece; Hello John from Katmandu (or Timbuktu).

- It is ideal to have a car with a paid chauffeur at least when you make a visit to the client.

- When it is lean period, there is no harm expanding your areas of expertise, visit the clients of past and future and buy lunch for prospective clients.

- Always acquire latest business slang and slang that can fit in any order into a hi-fi sentence. For example- the disconcerted orientation in price elasticity curve in depressed market position. Which could also be written as, the depressed position in price elasticity curve orientation in disconcerted market. I bet, even Dr. Amartaya Sen could not figure any thing out of this, leave aside your poorly literate client. It is better to have a Yankee or foreign accent; even Chinese will do. A prospective consultant may, therefore, undergo short course of a call center agent.

- The consultant should be good at preparing bulky and impressive report by use of all modern gadgets like graphics, excel and power point. Software is now available for this. Since no body reads between prorogue and epilogue, one can source tables and data from any databank to fill the gap. The report must end with suggestions that please the real Boss who wanted this assignment to be completed by you and fulfill what he or she wanted to discover through your study. It should also suggest some further probing studies so that your bread and butter is assured in near future, too. The consultant must have hawkish eye to quickly get to the power structure of his client organization and also about what is really wanted out of his study.

- It is better if consultant has culinary tastes that no one in client organization understands or partakes. His way of dressing and carefree style should be exotic. All great people who are creative and knowledgeable hardly pay attention to protocol and formal dressing. The point is you should make your client feel short and outdated.

- You should always keep injecting a sentence like this periodically: The other day I was with a German technologist, or I was with Finance secretary or better still with Bill Gates, if your client may tend to believe you. This makes you a well-connected well knowledgeable horse that will sure win the race for the client. He can safely jockey on you.

- Never club the Bill of consultancy charges and the Expenses together. Moreover, the bills better be raised monthly or periodically but not once at the end. Chances are it won't get paid or will get delayed abnormally.

- Who said you must have good degree or qualifications in area of your consultancy?¥The¥e are ways to take care of that?

- Get your name circulated frequently and listed some how in some catalogue .You can get your name announced at departure lounge of important airports in such a way that reflects how so much important assignments you have and how badly you are tracked by clients.

- Last but not the least, show fantastic (but achievable) potential out of your proposed work. People love to dream. No one really cares the actual outcome at the end. 

Scope for Consultancy in Management Areas:

Technical consultancy is little down-to-earth and tough and people with hands-on   experience and competence normally enter it. It is excluded here, therefore.

- Justifying of expenditures of organizations that are not normally allowable or are eye sore of the auditors.

- Project reports for new projects, old projects and expansion of projects.

- Rescheduling of loan defaults

- Satisfaction surveys of any thing.

- Market potential surveys, territorial, State, Country or even the whole world.

- Consumer behavior surveys

- Fund Raising efforts by NGOs, Government and Semi government organizations.

- Raising grants or loans from World Bank, ADB or such cash rich organizations.

- Third party endorsements in any issue. Or at-least to make the issue appear impartial and competently scrutinized by independent agency.

- Mysterious shopper (Studying efficiency of telephonic customer care, sales department or front office staff in retail chains and offices)

- Motivation, Training, Recruitment & Placements, Workers' Productivity training; Management Development Programs; and installing various HR systems in organizations (most flourishing branch of consultancy)

- Strategic Management and Marketing studies, acquisitions, mergers, balanced scorecards, Japanese management systems.

- Organizational restructuring (Read – downsizing or helping some people getting kicked out)

- Sales Channel reorganization, Supply Chain Management, Sales promotion & Brand Management.

- Total Productive Management   and cost reduction drives (normally ends up with reducing staff strength only).

In the end we wish to clarify that there is another breed of people who are also called consultants and should not be confused with the above-mentioned classification, which I prefer to call Soft Consultancy.

Hard Core Consultancy areas are something like:

A cricket coach, distributors, propaganda firms, insurance agent, interior decorator, architect, Dairy Plant consultant, chartered accountant, Web designers, data processors, share registrars, tours and travel agents, real estate agents… and so on. The hard-core experts have not only specific knowledge, but are used as a part of BPO activity or they are the one who work as freelancers doing the clients' work part time. Now a day, word Agent is not much popular and has been replaced with word Consultant.

There are several classes of consultants: Five star Consultants (Ex-MNC employees or foreign consultancy organizations), Government or Institutional Consultants, middle-income consultants, NGOs, and poor man's consultants (This class is rarely visible).

Note: The author expresses due apologies to the rare breed of genuine and qualified consultants, particularly the soft consultants category.

Prof R K Gupta
BE (Hons), MBA, FIE
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
E-mail :
cityju@rediffmail.com / rkgupta_India@hotmail.com
URL :
www.Geocities.com/rkgupta_india

Source : E-mail August 2003

 

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