This morning, when I was strolling to my office, I saw a couple were trying to find a direction to the airport. They seemed local to me only until they thrown out few words that gave me understanding they were rather European ones. The man was quite tall with silver linings across his hairs accompanied by, presumably, his wife with rather blonde hair. They were trying to enquire about the path they should have taken to the Central Station. After I explained in such brevity to make things clear where the ‘Central Station’ is, they hinted a further, clearer keyword about where the conversation should have been, that is the word ‘airport’. As fast as a thunderclap, I realized that Southern Cross Station was the place they ought to go as that is the only stop that contains buses to and from the Tullamarine Airport. I gave them the correction of direction, and assumed that they would have clearly understood my words to just follow the road that I pointed my finger to, without mentioning that they should turn right when they reached the casino.
What does this story have any implication to consulting world?
First of all, being a consultant is akin to be a path director, whose main responsibility is to direct, giving guidance upon the path which the clients should take, in order to reach the destination in such plausible and efficient manner. The main reasons why the clients come to a consultant is mainly, just like the couple whom I met today, they want to save money, as the reason why they didn’t want to take a cab presumably, and time, as they just asked for direction rather than finding the way by themselves. Money and time are the very precious commodity that they try to minimize the spending and maximize the return.
What is dangerous is that the words that a consultant meant to say might be perceived differently in the clients’ ears as a strangers’ ears are always different to the local ears. The thoughts on the mind of the sender might be reduced to just 70% to 80% through the words a guide says and received only 50% to 60% in the local ears, and worse, when it comes to the application, the receiver of the message might only remember 30% to 40% of the original content of the message. It is tricky when the outcomes of the project rests largely upon the shoulders of the consultant, albeit it is hugely dependant on the execution of the clients.