What is a consultant? Today many people call themselves consultants: corporations formulate their strategies with the support of management consultants; a graduate employed by an information technology (IT) company developing software is called a software development consultant; travel agencies are manned by travel consultants; gardeners call themselves landscaping consultants; and a person selling double-glazing introduces himself as a sales consultant. All of these people have quite different roles and skills. On another note, many young graduates freshly employed by companies in the consulting industry are proud of the title ‘consultant’ on their business card but struggle to explain to their friends and relatives from a holistic perspective exactly what it is that they do for a living.
To be successful in consulting you will need to understand its essence: What consulting is, and what it is not. This is particularly important today due to the abundant use of the consultant title. Many of the people bearing the title may not be consultants at all, or at least consulting may only constitute a small part of what they do. The unravelling of consulting and its complexities is not trivial. Consulting is a diverse activity delivered in many different contexts. We will therefore use an incremental approach to reveal the cornerstones of a consulting service as well as the obstacles and conflicts that can be associated with it.