Thursday, March 3, 2005

The consultant’s key value-creating processes

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, March 03, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
The consultant’s key value-creating processes

A fellow consultant from South Africa sent me this story: In case you are wondering what else I do other than write this column and advocate for entrepreneurship, read on.

A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud toward him. The driver, a young man in a Bronti suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the shepherd, “If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?”

The shepherd looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at him peacefully grazing flock and calmly answers, “Sure. Why not?”

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Asus laptop, connects to his mobile phone, surfs to a NSA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NSA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an e-mail on his Blackberry that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via e-mail on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his high-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the shepherd and says, “You have exactly 1586 sheep.”

“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my sheep,” says the shepherd.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car. Then the shepherd says to the young man, “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?”

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, “OK, why not?”

”You’re a consultant,” says the shepherd.

”Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

”No guessing required,” answered the shepherd. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew; to a question I never asked; and you don’t know crap about my business. Now give me back my dog.”


Briefly, as consultant, the key processes you bring to the table to assist clients achieve their goals and mission using their values along the path of their vision are:

Being authentic. Authentic behavior with a client, according to “Flawless Consulting” author Peter Block, means that you put into words what you are experiencing with the client as you work.

This is the most powerful thing you can do to have the leverage you are looking for and to build client commitment.

Building internal commitment. Mr. Block writes, “Because you have no direct control over the implementation, you become dependent on line managers getting results. The line manager ultimately will decide whether to take action, and this choice will be based on how internally committed the line manager is to the concepts you are suggesting.”

Completing the business of each phase of consulting: contracting, diagnosing needs (client’s and yours), gathering the data, designing intervention, giving feedback, dealing with resistance.

Keeping confidences. Mr. Block further writes that since you are almost always dealing a political as well as technical and financial data who gets what report you’re concern. The key is to give the client control on the people they want to share the findings with and to protect themselves.

Want to go into the consulting business? You may e-mail

(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation and does consulting on governance, leadership, innovation and organization development.)

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