Consultants are hired to solve problems, address challenges as well as identify and maximise opportunities. We are, in most cases, brought in to have a different perspective. An effective consultant may approach a problem differently based on their background, expertise, and viewpoint, offering various solutions for the client to consider. These differing perspectives foster innovation. Consultants with diverse viewpoints can generate creative solutions that might not have been evident from a single viewpoint, leading to more innovative outcomes.
Perspectives are personal to us. They encompass and define our ‘take’ on the world. We naturally tend to default to our own perspectives because they’re familiar and comfortable. It is also easy to apply our own perspectives to problems. Our brains are hardwired to take shortcuts. And that will always include not questioning the premises that we base our perspectives on. And therein lies the problem.
It is easy and effective to solve problems for different clients in the same way. To do the familiar again when we perceive similarities, whether they are truly similar or not. To do something different takes time, effort, and understanding. So, we don’t see the changes in the client context. We don’t note the differences in risk, stress points, leadership and culture. We also don’t know where real influence lies in the client organisation. (This may differ significantly from the organisational chart and titles often don’t reflect this). And we don’t take the time to understand problems, challenges, and opportunities through the eyes of a client.
The result is usually suboptimal. The project may be delivered but not really ‘fit’ the clients’ needs and be difficult to implement. This is why the industry is often criticised for delivering ideas and strategies that look good on slides -but don’t work or are impossible to implement. It is, in reality, the result of a failure to truly understand the client’s context and adapt our own perspectives to see the challenges through the eyes of the client.
The profession has the jargon for this, ‘paradigm shift’. We tell our clients to do it. But, perhaps it is us who need to shift our paradigm?