It has been one year now that I have been working at Storm Reply as an AWS/Kubernetes Consultant. I was unsure if "consulting" was a job I could ever feel comfortable with when I started. Turns out: I can 🤓
One year in, I'm thinking about success. What have I been doing? And more important: did I do well? What is it that my clients can expect?
What makes a good consultant?
Consulting is the central knowledge service of our time. We can find consulting companies in every industry and market, and we can get advice on legal and tax matters, IT and big data, and any other topic in a complex world. But the point is: that the quality of advice is not solely measured by communicating rules, standards, paragraphs, regulations, or best practices.
Clients pay for someone who has a certain amount of experience in a given field. Sometimes they even tend to pay more if this experience is proven by recommendation or certification. But what clients are actually paying for is a specific problem being solved. And here is the key to good service:
Figuring out: what precisely is the client's problem?
Consultants have a reputation for selling solutions to questions that have never been asked. And I experienced it: it is easy to think of solutions before having a holistic understanding of the actual problem.
A good consultant always puts the customer, the project — the problem — into focus. Good quality of knowledge work goes even further: it includes the reasoning behind the advice. What is the reason for the advice, for a solution to a client's problem in his specific problem context? Also: what is the scope of this particular solution? Where did it work — in which circumstances? And where is it likely to fail?
The quality of a consultant — a knowledge worker — is measured by recognizing a customer's problem. And this is precisely what a client can and should expect: pointing out and explaining a client's problem domain.
To do this successfully, the customer must also engage in processes beyond what he is used to — beyond the usual routines. A client must want to understand his current situation. Otherwise, any kind of advice is likely to fail.
You have to want to understand to actually comprehend.
The central quality of the knowledge society is insight. It is more than just following the norm. Knowledge means: comprehending.
Good quality of knowledge creates access because it makes visible and transparent what has not been seen before. It does not only take experiences seriously: it wants to create new ones. This is what I strive for.