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The 10 Laws of Management Consulting by Carlos Alvarenga


Well, on Friday, my consulting career finally
came to an end after almost 20 years. In
those two decades, I collected a list of what
I call my “10 Laws of Management
Consulting.” I have shared them with my
teams over the years, and now, for the first
time, I’ll share them publicly. 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
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
now what you will be working on in 2017
7: It’s Always Your Choice — Until It’s
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
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
3: When Someone Senior Asks You the
Time, Don’t Describe How A Watch
Works. (Taormina Law of Executive
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.
Cheers, Carlos
PS: The clients demanded I expand the
scope to include explanations!

This Article was originally published on linkedIn

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