The Challenges Being Faced by Innovation Consultants

Ignoring different voicesFrom my perspective I’ve been looking at a real challenge today, that many consultants offering innovation services are not providing real sustaining consulting value to clients, only ad-hoc services.

Unless this changes it will continue to erode the clients’ confidence in these service providers and they will be seeking increasing internal solutions to tackle their problems. I think if this trend continues it will be a mistaken course.

Consultants are not addressing many of the changes occurring and ignoring opportunities to adapt to different circumstances, they are simply not putting up a strong case of their engagement  by redesigning their business models or opening themselves up to different forms of collaboration.

In many ways, the consulting industry specializing in innovation is its own worst enemy.

It is highly fragmented, often highly specialized in certain innovation practices, and with much of the advice comes from a cottage industry of independent practitioners, caught up in executing and little time for advancing their own knowledge.

There is this sense that consultants are resolutely staying very internally driven, self-promoting, still trying to convey the story of innovation mastery, when clearly this is lacking in rapidly changing market and technology conditions and due to this staying ahead of the knowledge curve are actually failing the client.

Many consulting firms have spent the last decade trying to make themselves more efficient, going from craft work to selling one solution as a mass production to many, to yield ever-increasing fees, so as to gain a re-occurring return on a one-off invested solution. Innovation solutions simply need to be crafted to each set of circumstances mostly, in my opinion and that conflicts with this repeating model.

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Tuning out, a need for simplification and better value

tuning out 2I have been totally struck by the overwhelming number of webinars being offered to me on a daily basis, all related to innovation and all free. Am I the only one getting overwhelmed in choice, underwhelmed in content value?

This is a bit of a long rant, so turn away now those who love all the free choices you currently have, don’t waste your time reading on.

Those a little more curious, as my friend Michael Fruhling always says in his useful blog “then read on, dear friends….”

What do you get of real value when it is offered free?

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That sheer consulting muscle hopefully delivering global momentum

Pushing the world uphillHas consulting changed over the years? Certainly the business model behind them has, big time. I really do wonder where it is all going inside the business organization. Consulting has become a huge business dealing with our global and local organizations and governments.

Just take a peek around the board room doors, just who are all those strange faces, bulging muscles, huddled in meetings with the boss? Ready to take on the world.

Following on from my recent post on “the value of the visiting consultative fireman” this further post explores the external reliance on the consultant our organizations have become accustomed too. It got a little long, my apologies for that.

‘We’ seemingly can’t live without consultants.

Cant live without you 1They are now competing constantly for those semi-permanent, year-in, year-out relationships with companies willing enough to pay millions of annual fees for help and advice.

It is all about the repeating the consulting / client engagement across the entire business in as many different ways as possible.

Consultants are necessary or so it seems for any big decision in our global business organizations as the employment of consultants helps ‘sit behind’ the recommendations made, the often billions about to be spent, for them to validate, investigate, recommend and then rubber stamp your decision. Who will fire you for bringing in a respected global brand like McKinsey, a few perhaps but not many? Continue reading

The value of the visiting consultative fireman

Keep calm I am the visiting firemanI was reflecting on the value and role of consultants and have written here, here and here on this. These thoughts have covered the topics of suggesting different consulting models, exploring the shifts taking place in consulting and where consulting can contribute. Then I offered a post late last year under the title of “client engagement- full of whipped cream and lumpy gravy?

So in this post I will reflect and look at the visiting fireman here, the ones I experienced in the corporate world. I still believe they are far from endangered species.

Consultants hold a specific fascination for me, they come in all shapes and sizes, offering a bewildering array of solutions for your business.

For many clients, consultants have become ‘totally essential’  yet for others a necessary evil. Today with far less resource within our business to call upon and coping with increasing pressure on time there is also this total reluctance to employ someone on the books, it is better to bring it in on an ‘as and when’ basis. Keep it lean and mean, charge it off against that years operating expenses, don’t bring it onto the longer-term books.

Mostly the consultants knowledge leaves when they do Continue reading

Are we getting real value out of innovation consultants?

When you stop and think about how innovation has been managed and understood over the years you soon realize how much has changed in this time.  It is very significant, yet there is still much to do. Innovation understanding is changing, certainly for the better and as it shifts our perspectives on where knowledge resides as this is altering.

Today I think we are yet again at yet another crossroads in this innovation understanding and perspective. That is to extract the leading edges required from their innovation activities within organizations. This will require fresh innovation consulting business models to exploit the growing complexity of managing emerging innovation practice to support and extend their understanding.

I’m attempting to get my head around it, let me share some of my thinking here.

There has been a continual shift of where innovation knowledge resides. The external provider, who was the main source of latest insight, hands on practice and leading ideas in the past, I think have been significantly falling behind in recent years, on their contribution and value to organizations. Continue reading