Enterprise IT Consultant Views on Technologies and Trends

Dec 23 2010   10:15AM GMT

Framework for Consultants – Seven C’s of Consulting



Posted by: Sasirekha R
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This article is just a summary of the  Seven C’s of Consulting, based on a book by Mike Hope (I should like to add that after “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, I think I hit about another Seven book which I really liked) which one of my colleague recommended.

Anyone who has done consulting – short term or long term – would have at some stage experienced that they are expected to do nothing less than magic. There are many schools of thought on consulting success – ranging from following of rigid methodologies, templates to the other extreme of letting the consultant on the job doing it in their own individual style.

What this book offers is a 7C model – client, clarify, create, change, confirm, continue, close – that serves as a framework for handling consulting assignment. In addition to providing a professional touch to the consultant, it also includes client in its approach aimed at bringing out the real problems (and not just perceptions) and the long term solutions.

Each of these 7C’s in-turn has seven steps – so this is really about “49 steps to Consulting” – making it really comprehensive.

 

Client – Getting it Right from the Start

“Trade is a social Act”.

  • Orientation – Viewing the problem as the Client sees it (including their perception)
  • Desired Outcome – Bringing clarity of the desired outcome (the real value and not just an end-state)
  • Change Ladder – Removing the fog from the problem by focusing on where change may be required
  • Situation Viability – Studying if the issue can be successfully resolved and see if the timing is right for change
  • Decision Makers – Having a clear picture of the decision makers who can influence the initial stages of contract development
  • Ethos – Considering if the changes will be coercive or participative in Nature
  • Contract – Establishing a contract that sets out a framework for action and measurement

 

Clarify – Understanding the Real Issues

“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers; he poses the right questions.”

 

  • Diagnosis – Gathering information that will determine the real sources of the issue and not just the symptoms
  • Shadow – Getting a clear appreciation of the unspoken activities affecting the situation
  • Culture – Understanding the deep cultural factors that might affect the change
  • System Construction – Understanding the structural make-up of the system
  • Stakeholders – Getting a clear map that indicates who can influence the outcome of the change
  • Life-cycle risk – Determining the extent to which known and unknown factors will have an impact
  • Feedback – Establishing clarity on how the client and the organization wishes to be informed of the progress

 

Create – Developing a Deliverable Solution

“Imagination is intelligence having fun.”

 

  • Managed Creativity – Ensuring that any creative solutions can actually be delivered.
  • Creative Blockage – Understanding the potential creative blockages for my client.
  • Scanning – Finding solutions in the work others have done or doing (not trying to re-invent the wheel)
  • Storyboard – Underlining a clear process for deciding on the final solution.
  • Resources – Mapping the resources to the potential solutions to ensure that the options are viable
  • Stream Owners – Identifying clear owners for the solution and verifying that they have the capability and desire to own them
  • Positics – “Positive application of Politics!”. Considering if it is possible to redirect some of the selfish energy of internal politics and turn the negative aspects into worthy ones.

 

Change – Working to Make Things Happen

“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have of trying to change others. -Jacob M. Braude”

 

  • Methodology -Understanding the ethos and approach of how the change will be managed
  • Energy – Appreciating of where the change energy will come from, and how it will be decapitated across the different stake holders
  • Engage – Engaging the people to be involved in the transformation process at a personal and emotional level.
  • Entry – Identifying the best level of entry to make the long-lasting transformation on the change ladder
  • System Dynamics – Expecting how the system would react to the proposed change
  • Uncertainty – Make the plan flexible enough to operate in a dynamic and complex world (predictability and stability are false idols!)
  • Resistance – Accepting resistance to change as expected and working towards minimizing the resistance to the proposed changes

 

Confirm – Measuring the Change

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted -Albert Einstein.”

 

  • Responsible – Agreeing upon who will own and manage the measurement process
  • Timing – Deciding when the measurement will take place (without which early results – which may not be true indicators – are taken to measure success)
  • Design – Identifying the qualitative and quantitative measures and establishing the relationship between these measures.
  • Depth – Determining if extrinsic measurement be used or to deal with intrinsic issues such as motivation, attitude and beliefs
  • Data map – Controlling measurement activities to ensure that an integrated approach is taken in the clarification stage (and not a deluge of data)
  • Consulting Performance – Gathering quick specific and detailed feedback of consultant (self) performance from the client
  • Costs – Having a clear view of the impact cost will have on the different measurement processes

 

Continue – Make Sure that the Solution Sticks

“Many receive advice, few profit by it. -Publilius Syrus”

 

  • Sustainability – Planning to ensure that the change is sustained and ensure slippage doesn’t occur after the transformation project has been closed
  • Language – Determining the extent of the change by observing the shift in the client or consumer language
  • Gravity – Ensuring that the weight and structure and bureaucracy of the organization doesn’t take away from the transformation
  • Flow – Gaining from change projects by way of learning and reflecting (equally important as the end delivery)
  • Knowledge Transfer – Transferring the knowledge and competencies so that they remain in the business
  • Knowledge Management – Working towards making knowledge created as part of the change be embodied as a tangible asset to the business
  • Diffusion Channels – Analyzing the client’s capability to physically diffuse new ideas through various channels

 

Close – Signing Off with Style

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end; but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.

-Winston Churchill”

 

  • Clients view – Listening and taking time to understand the client perception over the total life cycle of change
  • Outcome Review – Pulling together data and gauging the the success of the programme
  • Learning – Help the client to consider what has been learned over and above the planned outcomes
  • Added Value – Checking if there is clear indication of a tangible improvement to the operational or commercial viability of the organization
  • Build – Investigate what opportunities exist for future work
  • Re-engage – In this closing stage, there are multiple options to re-engage with the client. Key ones are re-engage and modify (if parts of the process has failed), re-engage and extend, close and exit (with a feel-good factor), close and start a new engagement (an ideal outcome).
  • Exit – Ensuring that unnecessary levels of dependence have gone from all sides of the relationship

 An interesting interview with the author of the book is available at http://www.managementconsultingnews.com/interviews/cope_interview.php.

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