How do you distinguish a good consultant from a poor one?
Most consultants, if not previously used by yourself or your company, come across as confident and a bit mysterious. This is not necessarily bad but it means they are trying to assess the current situation and determine the direction to go. It is after this that the consultant will show themselves as masters of their work or partially trained and limited in their work. For a purchaser of consulting services this time is important for you to decide if the consultant is a match for your engagement.
Here is a simple guide to determine if indeed your consultant is a master or a limited partner in the complicated battle to achieve lean. Every company deserves the best resource it can find.
- An engagement in an organization for a consultant requires more complex thinking so two aspects of critical thinking come into play. First the consultant must be able to take complex problems and create a simple logical plan going forward. This requires critical thinking and a wide view of the world. The reasoning for this is that in the absence of these skills the consultant will try to fit your problems into the one or two models they possess. Ideally, you want the consultant to construct the best model from complex thinking and experience.
- Does the consultant work to increase cooperation by carefully determining what has to happen and once having a plan, do they deliver on their promises?
- Does the consultant work to create consensus knowing that the lasting solution is one in which everyone is committed? This does not mean that the perfect solution is the only valuable one. The consultant knows that creating a large change is a series of achieving small agreements.
- Does the consultant give advice in the form of requests or demands or do they lead the client to valid conclusions using questioning? This is of vital importance; what they leave behind is the ability to think and arrive at valid lean conclusions.
Careful selection of consultant should involve discovery of all of the above. A detailed interview that tries to find fit for your company through consideration of the behavior of the candidate regarding the above criteria plus an overall selection should be considered. The major question is, what is the fit of the consultant to what you are facing? The answer may not be someone you like, but someone you believe can initiate the change.