The Seven Cs of Consulting
By Mick Cope
Publisher Prentice Hall
While this book is written for consultants it is equally useful for those who hire consultants to deliver projects and campaigns. Consultants who use the book’s questions and models to scope your needs are far more likely to stay to the end and deliver a sustainable solution, rather than one that fails the moment they walk out the door.
Particularly useful are the questions Cope recommends we use at the beginning of a project to rapidly map the situation, and for both consultant and client to decide if they want to work together.
These questions are sub-divided into the 7C’s of his consulting system – client, clarify, create, change, confirm, continue and close. Cope says that one of the failings of consultants is that they stay for the first four stages and deliver the technical solution, but don’t stay long enough to check the solution has solved their client’s issue or that the client is satisfied.
Each of the seven stages has it’s own chapter. Client is all about understanding key decision makers’ perceptions and goals, and reaching consensus on the value to be delivered as well as the problem to be solved.
Clarity is about drilling deep into the problem, before using creative techniques to identify a range of solutions and the best fit (in Create). Change is the fun part where the solution is rolled out. Cope’s advice here focuses on the people side, which he says is often the hardest part of change.
Confirm is about checking that the solution has delivered change using quantitative and qualitative measurement, while Continue ensures the change will be sustained over the medium or long term and that employees have developed new knowledge and skills so they are not dependent on the consultant.
Finally, Close is about a clear end to the consultant-client relationship with an end of contract review and report that highlights achievements as well as deliverables.
This book introduced me to a number of models I use again and again with my clients, including the head-heart-hand world view, Trust Index, change ladder, CREATE model, look back and learn structure, and value-added categories. Each chapter is full of practical models that are easy to understand and use with project teams.
In his summing up at the end of the book Cope says what consultants need is an ability to build trust-based relationships, diagnose the problem and then be creative, challenging and brave in delivering a solution that does what it is supposed to do. This is true of any team or project leader.