As consultants of all flavors, to grow you need to focus on what really matters. Our customers expect us to be laser focused on their projects. And each customer thinks their projects or problems are the most important. As problem solving leaders we learn about staying ahead of the problem and leading by bringing different stakeholders. How many times have we all heard “Can you update me on the current status?” This really means, “tell me what really matters.” It is important for all of us to synthesize and regularly play back in your head the problem, the current solution, and the proposed approach in terms of milestones, people, and timelines.
What really matters can be different from industry to industry. In the automotive industry, it’s safety and design. in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s the effectiveness of the drug, how fast it works, and how long it lasts. For consulting, it’s the message and the estimated impact that implementation brings. What are the problem solving steps?
- Identifying the problem
- Structuring the problem using the mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive approach
- Prioritizing and eliminating unnecessary problems
- Creating the analysis and work plan
- Conducting the analysis
- Synthesizing to derive meaningful results
- Delivering the right communication message
In the end the message needs to be tailored to fit the client context case, it is ok to list out multiple items in the message, but make sure you point out what matters most to the problem at hand.
So how do we focus?
- Use a sense of urgency.
- Create or follow the critical path
- Link the problem to money.