Management consultancy and intervention

Introduction – Management consultancy and intervention

There is no single definition of nanagement consultancy and intervention, but scornful and comic definitions can be found such as the idea of Scott Adams about management consultant as someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time. Clearly management consultancy is many things to many people, but from the most generic sense the perspective to be held is based on business processes. Management consultancy projects essentially are to remove the ineffectiveness and inefficiency in business function.

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A history of management consultancy and intervention can be found as early as 1800s when business organisations sought help from bankers, auditors and engineers and hence professionals in their own field. The ideas of scientific management promoted by Frederick Taylor provided improvements in industry as early as 1800s. Core consultancy businesses were started in the United States and the United Kingdom by the 1930s. Industrial psychological projects to improve the efficiency of human resources having an impact on productivity by renowned physiologists such as Maslow and Herzberg can also be termed as management consultants. After the Second World War, with the boom periods the industrial engineers emerged improving efficiency of working practices leading to work study and piecework concepts.

The rapid rise of Japan in the 1970s even with very less natural resources led the Western industrialists to copy their practices, but failed. This failure led to the rise of management consultants again who changed management theories for Western companies developing just-in-time, a renamed version of Toyota’s total quality management and manufacturing systems. The concepts of business process re-engineering emerged with the ideas of obliteration rather than automation. Further the rise of technology companies such as Motorola, Nokia, Apple and Google led to increased acceptance of management consultants.

Currently the management consultancy and intervention market mainly operates and provide services for the corporate strategy development, operations and process management, information technology and organisational design.

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Management consultancy and intervention styles

When moving into management consultancy and intervention styles, Schein has provided three models. These are the purchase of expertise model, doctor-patient model, process consultation model. In the purchase of expertise, the organisation has an idea about the requirements, but do not have the experience and expertise to implement them. In the doctor-patient model the organisation is only aware about the symptoms of the problem and they require assistance to identify the root causes and implement solutions. In the process consultation model or as a solution facilitator the management consultant has a wider role in assisting the organisation to understand the problem and facilitate solutions. However according to researchers many interventions are hybrid in nature and does not follow a strict model.

Management consulting and intervention skills

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A range of consulting skills are required for management consultants. The first and foremost is expertise in the particular field. Secondly management consultants as separate services have to sell their services to client organisations and conduct negotiations with the clients. These negotiations would start from the scope of the project to the price of the project. Once the project starts, management consultants have to research about the problems, ideas, concepts and develop solutions. Hence the research and analytical skills are required by the management consultants. Management consultants and intervention programs require enormous planning and often they act as change agents. Management consultants have to communicate the solutions to the organisation and hence have to be diplomatic and discretionary.

Skills required by management consultants

  1. Expertise in the field
  2. Selling and negotiation
  3. Research
  4. Analytical skills
  5. Diplomacy
  6. Communication
  7. Discretion
  8. Change agent
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