“Consulting is a process to identify the cause and effect relationships that drive results. It’s not simply about giving advice.”
1. Discovery Through Investigation
Before a consultant can offer sound recommendations, they must explore what is going on to uncover the facts and identify the root causes. Effective improvements must address the cause or it won’t produce sustainable improvement. This involves gathering and analyzing information from a variety of sources inside the organization as well as prospects, customers and other parties involved in its industry.
Without going through this discovery process, there is no way to pinpoint what the real issues, challenges, problems and opportunities might be or the cause and effect relationships for addressing them. True investigation requires the absence of any assumptions or preconceived notions about what might be going on or what might help the organization. Aligning strategy with the people, structure and operations of a company requires understanding how everything affects everything.
Information is gathered from individuals at all levels within the organization. This starts with observation and interviews that may include visiting operations, business units, traveling with salespeople and spending time with management. Written materials, reports, media, data and existing research is then reviewed. Interviewing prospects and customers, spending time in prospects and customers organizations, and researching the industry through associations and other means is a critical part of any investigation. In some cases, we recommend qualitative and quantitative research so we have all the information necessary. This creates an objective 360 degree view of the organization and what causes things to occur.
“Our strength is in our ability to figure out the right questions to ask as we learn more about the organization and avoid the common assumptions made by industry veterans.”
Don Shapiro, President, First Concepts Consultants, Inc.
2. Recommendations specific to the organization and its markets
Through investigation, First Concepts is able to offer recommendations that are specific to the organization and its markets. Everything is thought out based on what will improve the way the organization operates, what type of structural and related changes would be necessary to align with new strategies, what will affect prospective customers’ decisions to buy, and what will affect the implementation of improvements. The investigation and recommendations create a foundation for executives to work on strategy and planning.
3. Strategy & Planning Formation
Effective planning and strategy formation require both synthesis and analysis. This is dependent on the quality and quantity of information available. Investigations create a solid foundation so senior management can discover the best strategies and ways to align those strategies with the organization. They now have a fresh perspective conducted by independent and objective outsiders to add to their own perspectives. This leads to a plan about how the organization needs to be structured and operate to support those strategies.
Because the information gathered involved people throughout the organization, there is a much stronger buy-in to what is decided. Research clearly shows that when employees contribute their ideas and issues to strategy formation, it dramatically improves the implementation of strategy. This is a critical part of building alignment between your people and your strategy.
True planning and strategy formation is not a neat, overly structured process. There is a process required to effectively direct this effort that will insure everything is considered while allowing for the synthesis of creative ideas and assessment of the impact of implementing specific strategies. This process promotes maximum creativity, alternatives, analysis and evaluation of the real world impact of any promising strategies. It combines private thinking, group discussion, and an outside professional’s perspective coordinated through a series of repeating steps until agreement is reached.
4. Development of an Implementation Plan
Figuring out what changes, improvements and new initiatives is not the end for First Concepts. The greatest plans and strategies in the world mean absolutely nothing unless they can be implemented. First Concepts specializes in helping clients identify all the issues that will affect the implementation of what has been decided. Strategy must be fully aligned with the organization and especially all the people and leadership issues that an affect it. From that, a comprehensive implementation approach and plan is developed. This insures that all employees, departments and functions in the organization are prepared and committed to execute the strategy with effective management support. This also focuses on what will have to happen in the marketplace to produce results. Implementation addresses the organization and its marketplace.
5. Execution Assistance and Support
Up to this point, the organization has been planning and making decisions. They know where then need to go and what they have to do to get there. But that’s still a far cry from making it happen. First Concepts believes in taking responsibility for results based on what it has helped its clients develop. So First Concepts remains involved with the client during execution to evaluate progress, assist in making adjustments based what’s happening, and guide the effort until it achieves its goal. We often act as project managers to guide the implementation process, select and manage outside vendors, and insure the plan produces results.
“We don’t just offer advice. We roll up our sleeves to make sure the improvements get executed properly. We live for our clients results.”
Don Shapiro, President, First Concepts Consultants, Inc
Schedule a phone conversation with Don Shapiro, President of First Concepts Consultants, Inc., to answer your questions and explore how your firm can improve its results.