Vincent Ventresca Responds:
Your question represents a frustration that we all
struggle with as consultants. However, there are several
contributing factors that can be controlled that will
help satiate our desire to impact lasting change.
First and foremost, be sure you are affecting the
root cause. In many instances, consultants apply efforts
to a symptom. This misfire can at times be driven by a
lack of due diligence, but usually it is a combination of
unintentional mis-description by the client and
mis-diagnosis by the consultant. Without a plan to impact
the causal element, optimum results cannot be achieved.
Therefore, lasting adherence to the recommendations is
Avoiding Common Misfires
In order to avoid this common misfire, I always
focus additional time on assessment with the client. The
additional effort in this area serves two purposes. One,
the client becomes more involved with the change and
therefore owns part of the results. Two, the efficiency
of execution is less distracting to the content of your
solution. This results in a tighter focal range and
supports the attributes of number one. I handle all
client engagements with the same robust first step and
Be certain to establish plans that are
realistically going to work. Building on the data
extracted in my first recommendation, create a road map
that has an imbedded strategy to build the infrastructure
your plan will need in order to survive. Please do not
misconstrue this as a recommendation to be manipulative.
You are, in fact, working in the best interest of your
client. During the planning process, help them establish
a vision that will clearly illustrate roadblocks. The
obvious next step is to deepen your change plan to
contain contingencies against the probability of negative
reaction. Once again, this is a proactive method to help
your recommendations survive when you leave.
Impacting Lasting Results
Finally, in a pure training environment, the
aforementioned strategies can be deployed but require a
slight modification. In order to allow for the outcomes
as described above, you must perform both needs and
competency assessments. These two tools will help you
identify the norms from an environmental and personal
level. Once again, this up-front data will enable you to
offer a plan that will contain solutions to unseen
Obviously every consulting engagement offers
unique challenges. I believe, and have proven through
experience, that lasting results can be significantly
impacted by formalizing and consistently executing the
strategy described in this response.
In essence, our role as consultants is to provide
workable solutions built in a creative environment.
Translated, we take an objective view enabling us to see
beyond the trees and in turn offer long-term
recommendations that will be embraced. I recommend that
you hold that concept closely throughout your career, for
it alone is the best gauge to measure your success.
You may want to read Peter Block's book, "Flawless
Consulting." Many of these concepts are built out and
presented in a very understandable fashion.
PMP is a project consultant at Advanced Management
Services, Inc. His firm consults and trains in continuous
improvement, project management and management
development. He focuses on integrating quality principles
into project and organizational development practices and
the synergy of people, process and technology. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.