I was amazed to read after almost 20 years of Management Consulting, there are 10 things you Must get right before starting the job.
I'm sure my consulting friends have some of their own, so I would love to learn of those as well. Here is my list (in ascending order of importance):
10: When all else fails, try English. (Alvarenga Law of Communications.)
Years of cleaning up presentations filled with jargon, imprecision, and hyperbole left me with the belief that plain language is the best way to communicate with clients. Yet it's amazing how rare that approach is in consulting. If your own deck confuses you, go back to plain, simple English.
9: The Firm Is The Consultant. (McNeely Law of Networking)
Nobody gets anything done alone in consulting. Build the widest possible network inside the firm, and use it as much as you can. Let the network solve the problem -- not you.
8: Look Ahead To See What’s Behind. (Hamilton Law of Career Strategy)
The next big idea will pass soon enough, and you have think about that at all times. Decks about the cloud and analytics will be irrelevant in a few years, so start planning today what you will be working on three years from now.
7: It’s Always Your Choice -- Until It’s Not.
Have strong opinions and lead clients as much as you can. But, when a client says "no" definitively, accept that answer and do the best you can to make their idea work. The same goes within the firm -- even the smartest people don't win every argument.
6: The Question Is The Answer.
Listen to your clients when they state their problems. A good consultant will often hear the answer in how a problem is presented, and this is a great skill to acquire.
5: Sit Down Before You Stand Up.
Never rush into a project, role, client, etc., without thinking through the consequences. In other words, before you stand up to volunteer for anything, sit down and really think it through. Sometimes what looks good isn't, and the same goes for the opposite situation.
4: What Has Happened Could Happen; What Could Happen Has Happened. (Consulting Law of Relativity)
Have confidence in the talents of your colleagues and firm. The best firms and consultants never let not having done something stop them from taking on a challenge.
3: When Someone Senior Asks You the Time, Don’t Describe How A Watch Works. (Taormina Law of Executive Management)
When a senior person asks you a question, answer it as succinctly as possible. Also, if the conversation is about sales, remember the corollary to the Taormina Law: "The little hand is on how much and the big hand is on when."
2: Always Take The Earlier Flight.
When it's time to leave a project, client, or firm, do it. Don't stick around any longer than you have to, or your chance to leave may disappear. The same goes for Thursday afternoons at any airport.
1: Shy Consultants Have Skinny Children. (Porter Law of Consulting)
You must learn to talk about yourself, your practice and your firm confidently without coming across as either too arrogant or too weak. Don't assume anyone knows or gets anything, and be ready to argue your position at all times. Communicating with clarity is the single greatest skill a great consultant develops over a career.