Do you have what it takes for process consulting? Two key questions
It is a privilege to sit with a variety of women and men interested in pursuing consulting as their vocation. Notice the use of the word vocation rather than hobby, job, pursuit or career. People can do consulting work as a side job, hobby or special interest, but making a living at it for the rest of one's working life requires deeper life-mission and intentional action.
Notice too, the use of the word process in the title for this blog post. Consulting as a product or as the promotion and delivery of the talents of the consultant is an entirely different approach than working deliberately with leaders of an organization at the process of figuring "It" out. The first sells the consultant and the product/services they offer, believing good results will be achieved with clients. The latter starts with the advancement of an organization, believing that deep listening in order to understand what the client needs and is willing to do reveals who and what is needed.
So . . .as a firm committed to be a platform for people whose vocation is that of process consulting, we want to make sure our recruitment process is helpful to them and to us--a process consultation in and of itself.
A resource for organizational leaders
There are two key questions Design Group International listens for in such conversations:
1. Can you take an entrepreneurial risk? This is not a matter of right/wrong or superior/inferior. It is a matter of orientation and capacity. Most people are oriented toward security over risk. Even if they are risk-takers, most folks have current obligations that prevent an investment of the 3-5 years that it takes to build a sustainable practice. They simply do not have the capacity. Just to show how small a population this is, it has been demonstrated that only 10% of the general population are business owners, and less than 1% actually take the risk of starting businesses. And . . .only a percentage of those who start businesses remain in business after five years.
A person who launches into consulting--on their own or with another firm--who does not have entrepreneurial orientation and/or capacity tends to function from anxiety about whether they will land client agreements, rather than demonstrating genuine interest in helping their client. They end up talking about themselves rather than the client's agenda. They even start using client relationships to source a future job when their consulting career slowly fizzles out.
2. Can you function at the speed of enterprise? Again, this is not a matter of right/wrong or superior/inferior. People operate at different speeds as they absorb information, learn from it, combine it with what they already know or have experienced, and then apply it.
Operating at the speed of enterprise is not just a capacity to juggle multiple roles and projects. Neither is it a matter of rapid efficiency. Instead, it is the ability to modulate one's speed appropriate to the situation. If a person cannot match the speed of their clients--particularly the leaders with whom they work--then the client is forced to match the consultant's speed. Not a good path for satisfactory outcomes! If the consultant cannot move quickly when it comes to sales and marketing actions or in providing customer service, and move reflectively when developing solutions and resources and developing strategy, they will get stuck in doing just the parts they enjoy, trying to force the other items to move more quickly or slowly. That isn't going to happen!
Consultants who thrive as process consultants as a vocation, not only instinctively modulate themselves to the appropriate speed, they prefer it. They are people whose resumes demonstrate capacity to match the demands of a project rather than trying to force the project to conform to their gift mix.
Obviously these are not the only criteria for doing well as a process-oriented consultant. They are great identifiers, however, for who might. Get past these and our conversation will continue.