I’ve written at length about what makes a good consultant and why it’s so great to be a consultant. One thing I’ve never addressed is a consultant’s decision making skills.
Any business person needs to be decisive. A decision making consultant shows that he can get things done when others don’t have the courage to move forward.
But a consultant needs to know when to be decisive and when to keep it in check.
For example, I manage client projects in a consulting environment. When an issue arises that requires a decision, it’s important to remember that I manage the project and I’m responsible for its success. At the same time, the project is owned by the client.
Decision making client vs decision making consultant
If something happens that may cause a delay in the project, my job is that of an adviser. I bring the issue up to the client, explain the options they have for moving the project forward, and the ramifications of each option.
I usually can’t decide to remove certain functionality from the scope of the project. And I can’t change the date. I certainly can’t add billable staff to the project at the client’s expense. He or she must approve the additional cost.
If the project is a fixed-bid project, my firm has agreed to complete the project within a certain time-frame at a fixed cost. I may have the authority to add staff at my own expense. But changing scope, time frame or the staffing model without the client’s consent is outside of a consultant’s authority.
Comparable to that would be the doctor who not only advises you to eat right, but decides your grocery list and accompanies you at the grocery store to pick the foods you buy.
You may pay the doctor to provide advice, but as the patient the end decision is yours.
Have you had success deferring a decision to the client?
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.