Consulting in a Time of Fingertip Expertise : Turning a Hosepipe into a Tap

In innovation consulting there is a demand  to keep up with a “torrent of change.” Content expertise is no longer in the hands of the few. It is now accessible through the fingertips of many via the Internet. This can be a business model problem but also an opportunity.

A niche business consultancy came to me with a problem. They had put their head down on their work but upon raising it up again, they found the world had moved on without them. What works today can be irrelevant tomorrow unless we keep our eye on the bigger world.

From their analysis the problem was two-fold. First the consultancy had focussed on facilitating and delivering a particular process that was perceived as traditional rather than contemporary. Second their clients were calling for expertise in areas that the consultancy had no knowledge, for example blockchain. So what solution did we develop that felt suited to the consultancy?

On Process – From Process Specific Differentiation to Delivery Expertise

First was to identify and develop expertise in a contemporary process. This built upon the transferrable essence of their core value, their facilitation skills. This had several advantages. It preserved past business and gave them an approach for both traditional and contemporary strategy projects. Most importantly it also turns their delivery skills into an overarching expertise rather than the process. Adopting further processes over time would place them under a reputation of delivery expertise.

On Expertise – Pacing and Loading

Developing a competitive level of content expertise took an approach of Pacing and Loading. The first challenge was raising knowledge to a level that paced their clients such that a project could be run. This means identifying issues by surveying clients on those of current interest (for example autonomous vehicles), scanning beyond the client’s frame (for example impact of AI on business management) and seeking the thoughts of their peers on change indirectly through an industry body.

The next step of loading was developing a conversational level of expertise, but beyond fingertip, on those identified issues. In addition, rather than further depth, was to think through the implications of those changes to their broad client clusters. This drew upon an existing strength of their client knowledge. In the process of this phase expert sources were identified for depth if needed.

Why Is This Interesting to Business?

How does the above help the consulting offer? Consider the adage about “not trying to drink from a fire hose”. The above approach is to turn an impractical “fire hose” of change into a useful (implications mapping) and accessible (delivery strength) tap.

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