“Consultants can be incredibly useful in helping companies to resolve performance challenges, but selecting the correct support relies on having a full understanding of the root cause of the problem they are trying to address and shouldn’t just focus on fixing the visible symptoms.” – Richard Greenwood, Be sure of your problem before you hire specialists
Talmix independent consultant Richard Greenwood has always enjoyed consulting. There’s a clear project opportunity, with a defined end-point. You get involved, you work hard and you empower your client to continue in the right direction without you having to do their job for them. But this independent consultant always knew that he had more opportunity to add value as an advisor than as an employee.
“When I started working, the world was a different place. The sentiment was certainly that most people studied hard in order to hopefully be snatched up by a large corporate where they would stay until they retired”. Richard was largely on that journey himself until a series of events, including the 2008 financial crisis’ and organisational changes, spurred him on to question his own long-term comfort within the corporate world.
Richard’s management consulting career saw him work as an adviser for Rio Tinto – a global supplier of raw metals and minerals. But it was after a senior role with Simon-Kucher & Partners that he realised his career future would become an independent one and so started his own consulting business, RWGreenwood Consulting, in 2014.
Having worked in and with several corporate organisations for many years, Richard had first-hand vision of large inefficiencies within the corporate world. Consulting now enhanced his ability to see just how much could be achieved in a short space of time, without the traditional corporate red tape and administrative processes. And one such inefficiency is the way that organisations recruit contingent workers.
“I could just see, at the time that I left my full-time job, that people were somewhat closed-minded to the idea that you can actually work for yourself. The assumption was that because you were independent, nobody else wanted you”, he shares with me. In a recently published article, Richard touches on exactly the antiquated recruitment methods still in practice today. He acknowledges that uniting buyers and sellers of services remains a challenge – as there is a degree of “information asymmetry – buyers of services don’t always know exactly what they are getting in advance (In truth, they also don’t with a consulting firm, but there is less perceived risk). Consequently, there is commonly some direct interaction between parties and a 'mating ritual' to establish the credibility of the seller before an assignment can start”. And as the world of work changes, so do our operational practices and it is no different when it comes to hiring independent consultants. He draws on a fruit-based tech analogy to clarify his point. “Consultants should simply be able to plug into your organisation, sit on the side without disturbing your existing workforce, and just work”.
And working within this new digital environment is something that Richard feels strongly about. I ask him about the most surprising things that he has encountered within the consultant industry, and he tells me that it is most likely the change that the consulting industry has experienced through a new digital way of working. Looking at the volume of organisations needing help and balancing that with the number of highly experienced people offering the solution, historically, the hardest part of solving the equation was simply getting access to the person offering that solution. “That’s completely gone now,” he says. “Things have changed. A new digital way of working has made it so much easier to engage with people that can genuinely help you solve a business problem. Consulting is now completely solutions-focussed and consultants now understand the importance of simply getting the job done”. And it’s not always about working with an organisation and throwing everything up in the air – the real skill should be the way you improve the people and the process without major organisational disruption.
And it’s exactly this generalist, coaching-style approach to building business relationships in the consulting world, and his transferrable skills that he can apply to several industries and organisations that he believes sets him apart from a slightly narrower, perhaps more restrictive, specialist consultant.
Isn’t it time that you looked at consulting a little differently? Speak to Talmix today about changing the way that you work.
About the Author
Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.More Content by Katy Roberts