In the News…
The news media have been quick to expose corruption deep within some of the most esteemed names in auditing, accounting, consultancy, and banking. These ‘noble’ companies have been caught stealing from stakeholders and from governments. They lie, they steal, they cheat. Other more attractive ‘love-brands’ have been found to be doing everything they can on the edge of the law to avoid committing taxes to the countries that they have grown fat feeding upon. This is all unsustainable.
As a consulting company, I call this kind of Jurassic Mindset “Archaic Consulting”. It is based upon a belief system that suggests being a parasite (ie. taking from your customers, stakeholders, and community) is an ‘aggressive’ business model that somehow should be applauded and admired by hard-nosed ‘realistic’ business people. The sooner these business models, and the predatory dinosaurs that perpetuate them, are driven to extinction the better.
A 21st Century Cure
My solution is to take the glue of our language, the vowels, and assign significance to each one. In English, we use ‘A’, ‘E’, ‘I’, ‘O’, and ‘U’ to glue consonants together to create sustainable words with meaning. We also have a special role for ‘Y’ – which I will come to last of all.
The cure to Archaic Consultancy begins with ‘A’ – ‘A’ for ‘Authentic’. ‘Authentic’ is used specifically in Transactional Analysis to describe beliefs and behaviours that are ‘true’ to the individual. There is no compromise – no violation of personal integrity – no searing of the conscience. Archaic Consultancy is not authentic. Salespeople and Consultants in Archaic Companies are encouraged to bend, stretch, and adjust the ‘truth’ to fit the fiscal lust of the organisation. This means lying to the customer to ensure the order is said ‘yes’ to – even though the salesperson knows they cannot deliver on their promise or timeline. This kind of behaviour is rife, and, frankly, any organisation that requires its people to even exaggerate the truth is worthy of extinction. Authentic behaviour, on the other hand, will lead us closer to the better business practice of “under-promise, over-deliver” – a practice that we know can produce ‘Customer Delight’ and sustainable, repeat-business.
The ‘E’ of our cure is for ‘Entrainment’ – the art of synchronising with another. We all need to work harder on our listening skills. Sometimes it’s easier to notice someone not listening to someone else rather than to ‘hear’ this fault in our own communications. The species of consultancy that will replace Archaic Consultancy is a symbiotic species. This new 21st Century form of Consultancy will always pursue Covey’s “win-win or no-deal” philosophy. It will see service like an insight: when I share an insight with you, you will have the insight, and I will retain it – win-win – we both prosper. Let’s call the neo-form of sustainable consultancy, “21cc” for short. 21cc will realise that any deal that leaves one party considerably better off is a poorly formed outcome. In an age of “TripAdvisor”, “Amazon Reviews”, and other review engines, revenge is easily taken by customers who feel taken advantage of. This will begin to happen to companies too.
Entrainment is building a rhythmic relationship with our customers and suppliers. It is breathing together, moving together, pacing one-another. It is a dance of rapport. ‘Symbiosis’ is one of my favourite words – and it describes the results of entrainment. In this dance, the customer will often lead – and the 21cc will follow. It is my belief that synchronising with colleagues, customers, and communities in this way will lead to more experiences of synchronicity.
‘I’ will stand for ‘Inspiring’ – 21cc will be a force for inspiration in the lives of all they touch: their staff, their suppliers, their customers. As such, they will recognise that ideas that are actioned are the major fuel for an ongoing flow of inspiration. The quickest way to kill creative motivation is to block the flow of ideas. Inspiration is both energy source (fuel) and currency (reward).
‘O’ is the most significant paradigm shift that must happen if we are to evolve. ‘O’ stands for ‘Ownership’. I regularly have clients asking for ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’ that my approaches work. The only ‘proof’ I can reliably point to is… me. Take my touch-typing programme as an example. The programme a) teaches touch-typing in about 3 hours, b) teaches the concepts in an entertaining and high-calorific way (using chocolate), and c) provides the all-important access to entertaining ways to consolidate skills after the programme. Does it work? Only if the participants take ownership and continue to practice after the introductory event. The gap between great expectations, good intentions, and sustainable good-new-habits is only bridged by consistent action. I’m not a dictator. My participants are not slaves, victims, or puppets. Training, teaching and education is a democracy – the power is within the grasp of the learner. 21cc must get this message across to clients – if it doesn’t work, the teacher is not to blame! If it does work, the student is to be praised!
This is why coaching can be such a brilliant way to help bridge the gap. Coaching is a form of ‘shared-ownership’ en route to the full exchange of contracts – the full exchange of ownership!
‘U’ is ‘Unique’ – 21cc must have sufficient genetic diversity from other organisms in the business ecosystem for clients and potential clients to be attracted and to commit. Grey-scale may be arty and often more economic than full spectrum colour, but I know what my retina wants to drink in. Too many consultancies boil down their personality to a common ‘brand’ identity. This is under the mistaken guise of providing brand-consistency. This, however, is to fly in the face of what is required for new paradigms. New results in new markets require new patterns – patterns that may be perceived as ‘unreasonable’ at first, but rapidly become the new benchmark for excellence.
And finally, I promised you the ‘Y’. The ‘Y’ is, of course, representative of ‘You’…and me. Bespoke business solutions is the only way forward. The off-the-shelf profiteering of the 80s is gone, gone, gone. You, the client, You the colleague, You the community must have initiatives tailored that “suit you sir!” And then, beyond that, You must realise that You make the difference. 21cc is a collaborative partnership, not a dictatorship. It’s not Parent-Child, it’s not Superior-Subordinate, it’s not Rich-Poor – but it is Y-Y… and that’s a whole new gender in the genetics of Consultancy!