Consultant-Anyone Can Consult
What is the secret weapon of the consultant? Does he or she have a weapon at all? Although the war-metaphor is perhaps not the most appropriate, the secret weapon of the consultant is more than just a “tool.”
So what is this weapon?
The weapon has to do with language, but language on itself is not all.
Consultants have developed themselves a mythical language, it is a kind of slang. Like mathematicians who have mastered their own language to express problems, the consultant uses words and abstractions that are not directly visible or related in the real world. This is one of the pitfalls of the (unskilled) consultant; he depends too much on his own vocabulary; the consultants’ SLANG.
SLANG is like mist that clouds issues…
But Slang is not the only problem, in the same way that language is not the only weapon.
A good consultant speaks more languages. That is the definition of a professional consultant. He is more like an interpreter than anything else. Interpreting problem that people face and defining a problem by using a metaphor, model, sidestep or whatever to explain the problem, Or to make it explicit.
First of all the consultant must be able to speak a common natural language, this is the language that will give the consultant a common sense. It is the language that is required to understand what people do and how they behave. What problems arise.
The other language the consultant speaks is much more abstract and has its own idiom. Words like: “process, functions, requirements, and standards,” are specific to solving problems. In order to solve problems you have to recur often to abstractions that take the problem into a sheltered and isolated environment. It is also an environment where people can exchange ideas by means of models. If everybody knows the guidelines it is easier to find agreement.
Besides dominating those two languages, the consultant should be able to switch between them. The ultimate weapon of the consultant is not so much this additional idiom he knows to use it swiftly without others know it. The consultant as the interpreter doesn’t have to solve all the issues by himself. Especially the external consultant should focus too much on this. It is the organization itself that should find the best solution, The consultant is supporting them. Basically as an interpreter.
© 2008 Hans Bool
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