Ever heard the usual line about the consultant who steals your watch and tells you the time?

It’s often true, and it gives my profession a bad name, one up from estate agents, but the real question is why is that?

Consultants are seen in a bad light where value never seems to match cost. Too often I hear stories of consultants who have delivered reports which go nowhere, or those who have been brought in for a short-term piece of work and remained for the next two years on a day rate which would give the most sanguine 151 Officer high blood pressure. And each time I wonder who is responsible? My view, it’s a shared responsibility. You pin the consultant down to deliver your pre-conceived solution and the danger is you spend more time arguing whether they’ve delivered it, rather than ensuring everything that’s done adds value.

Think about it, in no other situation would professional services be sought when the answer has already been defined – you wouldn’t go to the doctor and tell him your diagnosis and the treatment that’s needed; instead you’d find the right doctor for your needs before explaining the symptoms and working together to find the way to make things better.

So why do we treat consultancy differently?

With a backdrop of budgetary pressures combined with heightened public expectations on what ‘doing the right thing’ with tax payers money actually looks like, it’s ever important to ensure that external support is procured in the most effective way to get the desired outcomes. The organisation and the consultant need to work hand in glove – now is completely the right time to begin to reframe perceptions, appreciate where support is needed and recognise that successful partnerships are what will make this happen.

Reflecting recently on where we have added the most value in our engagements, success almost always revolves entirely around the ability for the organisation to create an environment where we become the glue required for change and transformation to succeed. These organisations supported our desire to work within teams to identify issues and build solutions as a joint effort. Together we were able to grow a trusted relationship and were seen as an extension of their own organisations rather than a time-hungry burden.

Gone are the days where authorities can afford lengthy and bureaucratic procurement processes with the traditional supplier/client interactions also need to stop – long and costly meetings debating the minutiae of unrealistic or unhelpful deliverables, pre-determined ways of working and benefits expected only become a war of numbers which add little or no value to either party and instead drive the wrong behaviours on both sides.

Instead we ask our client to work with us to define the problems before taking the next step. By taking a different approach you not only maximise opportunities but take the stress out of investing in support.

At C.Co we enjoy nothing more than truly getting under the skin of a situation and see the scoping process as an opportunity to build relationships that last whether or not the project continues – we want to add honest and real value to anyone we work with. By using fast-track diagnostic tools, we work with you to take a holistic view of the situation before offering bespoke views on what would work best, taking into account your current position and future aspirations.

So why not give it a try – you might be surprised at what we can achieve together!

To find out more about us, why not come to speak to us at ESPO’s free ‘Consultancy Live’ event on April 18thin Leicester.  https://www.espo.org/Spotlight/EventsFolder/2018/ESPO-Consultancy-Live

C.Co – Collaborative Consulting for the sector


By John Knight, Programme Director at C.Co