If you ask me directly, answer is I have been consulting in Telco since 2003.
I say consulting as consultant was the job title, and same was the title on clients badge I have been given.
Consulting was part of the name of the first firm I worked for, and consulting is in the mission statement.
According to wikipedia, “Consulting is providing advice in a particular area of expertise. This is not the same as customer service.”
I loved consulting. I think consulting is exactly what an engineering student aims to do.
Providing advices. Better, a young engineer dreams of providing solutions. Better, a young engineer aims to provide innovative solutions.
Stuff that works.
I learned innovative solutions comes in two ways: you are a genius, you base on others study, you mix stuff, you invent, you deliver.
Second way is you deeply feel the need, you realize companies are based on people, you use your knowledge and ability to generate a mind switch, you make a change. You give a gift.
Both cases are so rare and difficult to occur.
Most of the time, you fail to change anything. You just deliver what you have been asked to.
You respond to a need. But no changes.
Does consulting really help companies enhance their business?
Well, my answer is “only when they succeed in generating a SWITCH”.
Back to the initial question, what have I been doing then?
Consulting? Yes. But mine was more precisely “Internal consulting”.
Internal consultants spends a certain time (sometimes years) within a client company working exactly as a client employee.
Nevertheless, they accumulate in-depth knowledge of the client business and organization. This is a privilege as they have sufficient time to rely of this profound knowledge to implement a strategic change, or even to affect the “culture” of the client itself.
Unfortunately, there’s a dark side of the moon. The fact that you are seen as internal assigns you the same burden of limitations that common client employees have.
You are simply not seen as someone who is there for a REASON (as external temporary consultants are) but a member of the team supposed to help delivering the day by day business.
Another factor not helping internal consultants is the contract that regulates their service, the so called “time and materials”.
Time and materials is “a form of contractual compensation involving payment for materials used and at agreed rates for the those involved in performing the services”. How can I pay the precious chance of being given a gift of change if I pay the minutes spent in an office following a fee board scheme?
Anyway, keep in mind that T&M is not WHAT you do, it’s HOW you activity has been regulated and rewarded.
(Too many internal consultants confuse the two).
But if time and material is just how your consulting is paid, then this should not be the factor you focus on to find the significance of your role. You’ll risk to lose the right path, forgetting the reason why you are consulting.
I may agree time and material is not the most appropriate way to regulate a consulting contract.
I may agree that consulting firms fighting for those outsourcing contracts (the so called … as-a-service) are getting a bit far from their mission (even if this means making money).
But the important message here is: never ever forget that consulting is not just delivering a customer service (remember wikipedia’s advice not to confuse the two).
Consulting is providing a SWITCH to enhance a business, a working pattern, a method, a way of thinking. It’s giving a GIFT.
I have in my mind the few moments I did not simply delivered, and I generated a change.
It seldom occurred, but it did. And I am grateful for that. That was when I did what I liked to do.
That gave significance to my work. And made this experience so beautiful.
The rest of the time I did what I had to do: just delivering. Rapidly, properly, but just delivering.
I am about to quit for a new experience, leaving the consulting universe.
When I decided and chose the new company, I dedicated a few time understanding what the company would have expected from me in terms of delivering.
For the rest, I tried to “feel” whether the new role, people and environment had the ingredients for growing the seeds of change and innovations. Of cooperation. Of the uniqueness of individual mixed in a “no man is an island” world.
That’s what I want to keep in me of consulting. I want to keep consulting the new company I will work work, and provide customer services with “innovative consulting style”.
I think the transformation has completed.
Now that I am about to quit the “consulting as a job”, I feel I finally have become a “consultant as a person”.
And the title, finally stitched to the person itself.