Consulting Services & Skills

Like ‘Analysis’, ‘Consulting’ is a term used with widely different connotations in modern business conversations. Like analysis, consulting is also a term that gets you thinking once you start trying to define it. I found it invaluable to spend some time unraveling “Consulting” and figuring out how to be a successful, respected consultant.

Fig. 1. Consulting Services

See also: what-is-consulting-definition

“The purpose of consulting is to help people solve problems and move from their current state to their desired state, which they may not be able to do by themselves as effectively, or as efficiently” – Krishna Deva

This paper discusses introductory answers to four questions:

    1. What does providing Consulting Services mean?
    2. When are Consulting Services required?
    3. What does it take to provide Consulting Services?
    4. Which are the Distinctive Skills for Consultants?

1. What does providing Consulting Services mean?

There are many views on what consultants do and what services they provide. I thought it would be important to begin from the demand side, to understand what providing consulting services means to the customer. After all, that is the raison d’etre for consultants, and it should be the context in which everything else about consulting services gets defined.

In trying to understand what consulting services could mean for the customer, we need to consider the results – the deliverables and the outcomes – that the customer gets. The ‘how’ of consulting is also a component of what consulting services mean, but not from the customer’s point of view. That is more important for the consulting provider to know and be good at. More of the ‘how’ in later sections.

Let’s begin our exploration of consulting services by understanding the expected deliverables and outcomes of providing consulting services.

  1. Deliverables of Consulting

The core of the deliverables from a consultant is usually a Report. The report typically begins with an “Executive Summary”, and contains the “Objectives of the Assignment” for which the consulting was undertaken, the “Facts and Data” that were considered, the established and credible “Bodies of Knowledge” that the consultant used, and the “Recommendations” of the ‘solution’ or ‘answer’ to the customer’s problem, or question.

Report

      1. Executive Summary
      2. Objectives of the Assignment
      3. Facts, Data & Studies
      4. Analysis (with ref to established bodies of knowledge)
      5. Recommendations

The thinking and analyses done by the consultant is inherent in the recommendations, and we can say that the report is a result of the consultant’s thinking. Typically, the detailed analyses and logic applied is not elaborated in the report unless the solution is heavily research oriented, or if it is complex and difficult to comprehend.

I have also seen many reports of consulting assignments where the Consultant was expected to validate and coherently re-present the analysis and solutioning done by the customer. In such cases the Consultant is ‘used’ as a credible third-party offering recommendations on which the insiders want a stamp of external, neutral approval.

In every case, it is an expectation that the recommendations, if followed, will lead to the outcomes desired, and will not create any new or bigger problems than might already be there. If anything, the recommendations are expected to reduce current problems by leveraging on as many synergistic opportunities as possible.

Typically, the Report is not only submitted but also presented by the consultant so that all implications of the contents are grasped completely, and any follow-up questions are addressed responsively and coherently.

The deliverables can be summarized in one line as follows:

“A Report including the Investigation, Learning, Research, Analysis and Experience-based Advice that Solves the Customer’s target problem/opportunity.”

2. Outcomes of Consulting

The primary outcome for the customer has to be their success, once they implement the recommendations. Without this expectation of success being met, the customer would never value the consulting exercise.

Another important outcome of consulting is the reputation it creates for the consultant. For a consultant, their reputation is critical to build up, because their credibility is important for the recommendations to be accepted, as well as for growth in their engagements. For a consultant, the two important elements in their reputation are respect for their caliber, and appreciation for what they are able to bring as outcomes.

The two outcomes from any successful consulting engagement are:

      1. Success for the Customer
      2. Respect and Appreciation for the Consultant

2. When are Consulting Services required?

These are the four situations in which consulting services are sought by customers:

    • When the Customer doesn’t know what the solution is
    • When the Customer doesn’t know what the problem is
    • When the Customer doesn’t know how to implement the solution
    • A combination of the above conditions, in any proportion

It may be natural to jump to the conclusion that consultants provide solutions, but the truth of the matter is that consultants often need to be called upon when the problem itself is not known or identifiable. For instance, a client organization might be suffering dropping productivity for the last two years, and a few initiatives may have been tried out by the management but did not help.

This would be a good point to bring in a consultant with more/diverse experience in resolving productivity issues. The consultant would be able to assess and analyze the realities within and around the organization to put together and propose solution options to the management.

Consultants with implementation experience are also sought out when the solution may have been identified and even detailed out to some extent to give the client confidence that it will work, but they may lack the capacity and capability to manage the execution/implementation. A consultant in this case would be a good temporary addition to their workforce to see through the solution to its effective implementation.

In general, consulting services are called upon in a wide variety of situations. Consultants may be sought out for any of the following types of solutions, and more:

Designing solutions to problems
Identifying the problem(s)
Competition analysis

Formulating strategy
Implementing new technology
Managing functions

And others…

3. What does it take to provide Consulting Services?

Consulting services typically follow the lifecycle outlined below. The sequence of stages/steps may be somewhat iterative depending on the situation and the ease/difficulty in accomplishing each stage, but the stages are all necessary to go through for the consultant.

The lifecycle of consulting can be visualized like the Greek symbol for ‘sigma’ (see Fig. 2 below). Starting at the point where the arrow points, follow the shape clockwise through the stages a, b, c, d, and e. The description of each stage is in the paragraphs that follow the figure.

Fig.2: Sigma of Consulting

a. Understanding the Problem from the Customer’s point of view

Consulting begins by building a good understanding of the ‘problem’ which the customer has articulated. It is important to identify all the opportunities that are being missed, as well as their effect on the ‘pain’ that is being created by those. Typically, the ‘pain’ is voiced by the customer and evident from data points of the outcome(s) not meeting desired goals.

P.R.O.B.L.E.M.: Perceived Risk of an Opportunity not Being Leveraged to Enhance the Meeting of goals. 

Understanding this ‘problem’ wisely is key to consulting.

b. Understanding the ground Realities 

Diving deeper into the causes and data, the next stage after identifying the problem(s) is to understand the realities of the situations in the customer’s organization and environment that have a bearing on the Customer’s pain points. Getting rid of biases and building a rich fabric of evidence and data is critical to correctly understand the reality, and therefore all the possible causes that lead to the effects.

This stage involves investigating all potential factors and functions, meeting various executives to understand their perspectives and experience, as well as to gather and analyze data for all relevant measures.

c. Applying Design Thinking & Problem Solving  

With a factual and unambiguous understanding of the problem and all the factors leading to it, this stage focuses on developing strategies and designing feasible solution options that have optimal impact and cost.

The steps typically follow this structure:

      • Define problem/focus/opportunity
        • Be Creative
        • Be Objective

Here is where lies the first opportunity for innovation. The creativity applied in finding new possibilities and definitions of the problem/focus/opportunity should lead to identifying obvious as well as not so obvious problems.

      • Conduct Causal AnalysisExplore all possible Cause-Effect relationships
      • Research for new/more causes/opportunitiesCritical Thinking

The findings of all research feed back into the earlier two steps above – Defining the problem, or Causal analysis.

      • Map and Correlate alternatives with impact areasDevelop Solution Sets

Going through the above steps helps in logical yet innovative solution sets, which can be compared for their respective benefits as well as costs and complexity.

d. Present Pros and Cons of Feasible Solution Options

The solution sets are presented to the customer stakeholders along with their pros and cons, and a Cost-Benefit Analysis for each solution set. Questions lead to refinement of the most suitable solutions.

e. Finalize the agreed upon Solution(s)

Build the Plan and complete the Consulting Report documentation for submission to the customer as the final deliverable.

4. Which are the Distinctive Skills for Consultants?

Distinctive Consulting Skills

This section calls out the skills and competencies that are critical for the consultant to demonstrate, for any consulting engagement to be effectively executed.

a. Customer orientation
i. Listening – to understand, appreciate the customer’s inputs and context
ii. Emotional Intelligence – to sense and prioritize pain points and opportunities
iii. Communication – specific, clear, relevant and up-front
iv. Retaining the focus on problem/benefit

b. Domain expertise – deep, broad, diverse – know/find out everything that could be relevant to the problem context, spanning all necessary facts, concepts, processes, procedures and principles of the domain and related domains.

c. Teleology – Inferences and conclusions based on teleology, discerning the purpose (effect) of every piece of information (cause) in the knowledge-map.
i. Critical Thinking
ii. Creativity
iii. Decision making

d. Communication skills
i. Language – must be the same as that of the client
ii. Written
iii. Drawn – [ref books by Dan Roam (The Back of the Napkin, Draw to Win, Show and Tell)]
iv. Spoken – [ref Richard Chung (Compelling Communication-Oral Presentations)]
v. Presentation – https://summaries.com/blog/the-pop-up-pitch

e. ICT – Mastery of the Tools of Expression
Creativity has value only once it is expressed. Every creative person tends to be so because they master expression in the medium of their customer. When we are creating value for the customer, we need to master the medium(s) of creation that we (and the customer) choose to communicate in.

  1. Mastery over communication mediums.
    1. Written, Drawn, Spoken, Presented – Word, PowerPoint, diction
    2. Email – Microsoft Outlook (or any other email app of choice)
    3. Video conferencing – Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, etc.
    4. Contemporary with, and ahead of others

f. Soft skills
There are a host of soft skills that are important for a consultant’s success – focus, planning, patience, open-mindedness, etc. which are critical at various times, and a consultant picks the ones they need with experience.

Consulting is an immensely fulfilling engagement if it is done with integrity, sincerity, diligence, and also with curiosity, creativity, and passion. Consultants can be very influential in the trajectory of organizations and individuals. Consulting is one of the most respected professions, and gives you opportunities to study new and challenging situations, traveling and meeting people across the world. It is an engagement of responsibility and potential.

— O —

FOG: The Future of Growth…

Two years into the pandemic, everyone’s wondering again and still about the Future of Work. Talks and webinars and conferences are being organized to understand what organizations and people are going through. With Wave 3 (Omicron) peaking, it is pretty much agreed that the resilience of humans has ensured that we found ways to continue to operate, and economies are reflecting this resilience.

The Future of Work seems to be safe. ‘Hybrid’ is what the consensus is. But it is increasingly becoming apparent that the pandemic is in for a longer spell than we had hoped for, and the question we now have to start thinking about is – “What is the Future of Growth?”.

This question gains significance because the fresh workforce which was recruited during the last two years would have never experienced ‘pre-pandemic’ work in offices, and some of these people would also be coming up for their first role change into a bigger role, maybe supervising people remotely. But what does that mean?

We need solutions for the new problems being faced today. Many instances of “I don’t want to attend meetings” are being reported. We need to address the root of the problem (meetings were not effective nor defined with required agendas), not try to replicate what used to happen. The new joinees have never experienced in-person meetings, or workshops where they could see their colleagues face-to-face, or eye-to-eye, nor do the old KRAs/KPIs make complete sense when used for determining promotions.

There are new questions that the #futureofgrowth will need us to think about, from everyone’s point of view, the subordinates’ and the supervisors’. The realization is stronger now of the social fabric in any organization. What is the social fabric made of, what does it enable or inhibit, and how can it be replaced with wholesome and productive mechanisms.

Some questions that may have interesting answers now…

Questions From the Subordinates’ Point of View

  • How will my performance be assessed?
  • How will my promotion be decided?
  • What is the extra I can do beyond what is assigned to me, and which will win me brownie points?
  • How will I Learn by Observation?
  • From where will I Absorb Tacit Knowledge
  • Who are the Leaders? From the Social Media universe, Influencers are the leaders, do they become organizational “Gurus” as well?
  • Interpersonal motivation – how and from where do I get it?

Questions From the Supervisors’ Point of View

  • How will managers develop subordinates?
  • How to assess the competencies of subordinates?
  • How to identify the potential growth areas for subordinates?
  • Situational Leadership? What is that going to be driven by?
  • How will coaching and mentoring evolve?

Challenges For Everyone

  • Many of the familiar ways of working no longer help in the new Organization Dynamic
  • Mastering/Leveraging New mediums of self-expression – text, voice, video, language
  • How will we learn emotional intelligence?

Many questions like the ones above are beginning to gain importance, and we will have to find new answers. It is an exciting future for sure!

— O —

Money is Only Worth its Spend

Many years ago I had come across a truism I liked: “The riches of a person are reflected in how they spend their money, while their wealth may be measured by how much they have.”

There are many sayings I’ve heard about ‘the color of money is the same’ regardless of where it comes from, but over the recent years I’ve realized that the ‘quality of money’ can be established too.  I did think of the sources of wealth, some honorable, some dishonorable.  I thought of the names we give to sources of funds, and to heads of expenses.  Nothing seemed to pass all tests until I hit upon a very useful test for the Quality of Money.  The quality of money depends on what it is spent for, what it makes happen, or what causes it funds.

Spend vs Invest

When we speak of spending money in different ways, the question also pops up “Money can also be invested, how is that different from spending money?”.  A simple difference to understand between spending and investing money is to see that money that is spent, is consumed, it doesn’t return in any way except to sustain the status Quo.  In this regard, money is time, and vice versa.  Money invested however, returns manifold, or should return manifold if the investment is accompanied by attention, industry, and doing what it takes to meet the objectives of the investment.  In this way, money that is invested returns bigger, stronger, better over the time that we pay attention, are mindful, and industrious.

The Need and Money

In the bigger picture money gives us time, say by providing sustenance, shelter, and security for another few days/weeks/years, and we make our decisions of how to spend this time.  If we are blessed with fortune and wisdom, we invest this time to return stronger, better, bigger.  Which of our needs do we fulfil first with the money we have, defines a lot about the quality of money we have.

Mapping to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs also gives some great insights into the quality of money that we spend or invest.

Examples of money spent or invested at various levels of Needs

Level of Need Spend Invest
Need for Self actualizationPracticing all what we are able to do, what we truly know.In Self – mind, body, soul
Need for recognition– Fees paid to enter competitions– Self improvement
– Excelling at meeting useful objectives
Need to belong– Socio-Cultural alignment (lifestyle)
– Fees for club membership
– Attending social events
– Build relationships Networking
Security needs– Maintain a house to live in– Educational qualifications
– Monetary savings and investments (stocks, banks)
– Agriculture
Biological needs– Food Shelter from natural elements

We can review the Quality of our Money, and what we are likely to achieve with it, by appropriately mapping our expenses to the needs, and classifying them as spend or investment.  This review of what we are likely to achieve with the time and money that we expend, can give us insights into how we should change, if required, our spending and investing strategies.

It is important to note that Time is a significant factor that affects the quality of money.  At different times, different needs become virtuous. The amounts of spend and investment at the various levels of needs will also change with time for each of us, across different phases of our lives – from child, to adolescent, to adult, with a family, through professional phases, etc.

What is the Quality of Your Money today?

— O —

Ethics at Work

Whose responsibility is work?  The worker, or the supervisor who gives the instruction to the worker?  Whose responsibility therefore, is work ethic?

Ethical work definition is a pre-requisite to work ethics, though in some situations you find the work ethical even without ethical work being demanded.  Lets take a closer look at what work ethics are, and what ethical work is

.

Work ethics is honesty in working, ensuring integrity of outcome, labor, and time.  Often the only thing associated with work ethics is whether the worker puts in the contracted amount of time to her/his station at work.  But I think it goes much further than that.  I believe work ethics is about ensuring that I do not leave any stone unturned in meeting the intent of my assignment for meeting the requirements of the outcome.  This means to me the selection of the right methods, tools, technique, and then to execute my assignment responsibly in ensuring that my work integrates with the work of others in the team.  It means sincerity and diligence on the worker’s part in understanding the big picture and how they can contribute the most to the team through their individual assignment, and even other contributions they can make.  It means the exhibition of requisite skills by the worker to ensure the most integral outcome in the least time and effort as a whole.

Lets look at the ethical work definition and its outcomes now.  Ethical work definition means the definition of work and work breakdown structures such that they align with the competence and capacity of the team, and which when completed meets the intent of the customer, who can be an internal customer too.  Ethical work is the result of work definition by managers typically, while work ethic is the individual endeavor of each team member.

W.O.R.K. = When Outcomes Result from Knowledge!  This means a great deal.  First, work that does not have any result or outcome is a waste of time.  Second, work is based on knowledge, the knowledge of the doer.  If it is not based on the knowledge of the doer, it is actually someone else’s knowledge, while the job is just being executed be the worker.

What do these thoughts mean to you as a worker?  What do these thoughts tell you as a supervisor or manager?

Which do you now think is more important – work ethics or ethical work?  Or are they both equally important for an ethically operating enterprise? 

This sets the stage for what today’s students are struggling with.  Students who are eagerly gathering degrees, diplomas, and certificates to present to employers who have no clue of what the work involves, except knowing that the kinds of people who have succeeded in growing their enterprise in the past had far fewer qualifications (and much more ethics).  Work ethics for ethical work!

— O —

Trainers Don’t Need To Be Trained!

Do Trainers need training?  Yes of course they need training, but they do not need to be trained.  This is what makes them Trainers at the cutting edge. 

Obviously, if they need to be trained, then they are the learner.  If a trainer believes they have outgrown the learning stage, they are actually doomed as a trainer.  All trainers worth their salt accept that they need to keep learning constantly, just to keep pace with the rapidly learning youngsters who will ask them questions during their training sessions.  The better trainers learn faster than anyone else.  It’s just that simple.

So how do Trainers learn so quickly?  What do Trainers do to learn without being trained?

Trainers are experts at focusing on learning objectives and asking questions, assimilating answers, and practicing without inertia.  This expertise of asking questions is the expertise knowing which questions to ask, how to ask which question, who or what to tap for the answers, and what questions need to be answered first.  This expertise naturally gets them the answers before anyone else, and that is what creates the opportunity for them to be Trainers.

Trainers develop the ability to assess the purpose for every piece of information.  While good learners need to know how to answer all the questions they are presented with, good teachers need to be able to reverse-engineer the questions from looking at all the information (‘answers’) that they perceive.  Trainers have to be able to determine the objective from the response.  And, the best trainers are able to ask new questions, questions they have never been faced with.

— O —

Requirements?

Understanding & Developing Project Requirements

Requirements –> Strategy –> Plan –> Execute –> Evaluate

These are the five keys for successful project execution. Understanding requirements is probably the most important key because if requirements are not understood correctly right from the beginning, the entire project can lead to a solution way off target. Apart from wasted time, resource, and money, this leads to a dissatisfied and frustrated customer.

The most common trap in understanding requirements is to stay with what we already know, what we have experienced in the past, and look for the most easily apparent solution, rather than the problem which the customer is experiencing. In this case it seems we would be looking for a lock when we already have a key, or simply putting the cart before the horse.

Understanding requirements from the customer’s point of view requires empathizing with the customer, their situation, their needs and wants, their challenges and their aspirations for success. Reading and re-reading their problem statement is something we need to do often, even after we have started developing the solution strategy. Staying with the problem and thinking about it long enough is key.

As we begin developing the requirements, the simplest proof of whether we have understood the problem correctly is to paraphrase it and see if the customer still resonates with our description of it. We progressively detail the problem articulation and successively involve the customer in responding to potential solution strategies with their pros and cons. If the resonance sustains through the design stage, we have the problem(s) identified and isolated.

Re-statement of the problem and getting concurrence from the customer on what it is, as well as what it is not, gives us the clear starting point from where we can start strategizing on the possible solution sets, and paths to them.

— O —

Discernment-Demands-Growth!

Meeting requirements does not grow an organization, meeting discerning demands does.  As customers, we must have discerning demands.  This is what causes our supplier organizations to grow.  So many of us will be able to relate with the growth that our own organizations had, because we had some discerning, demanding customers.  These are Premium customers to have, and every supplier is blessed when they have one.

“It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford

Customers who have discerning standards, and demand their standards be met are the reason for learning and growth for their suppliers who (go through the ‘good’) struggle if they are committed to deliver quality.  Unless there is something more and better being delivered, it isn’t growth for anyone – neither the individual, nor the supplier, nor the customer.  As long as there is something good and better, the ‘more’ makes sense.  If the quality isn’t what it could have been, more just means more of the same.  This isn’t growth.  So what is Quality then?

We’ve heard promotional claims from sales pitches about the quality of products and services that will be offered by a particular supplier – “the world’s best”, “most economical”, “in the shortest possible time”, “easy to work with”, “better than the competition”, “most comfortable”, etc.  Of course there’s an asterisk(*) in every case, pointing to the fine print of the T&C (terms & conditions) that apply.  In most cases however, we, the consumers (or the customers) convince ourselves to decide to buy those products and services despite some loopholes or risks we may observe in the promises.  We take a chance.  The suppliers depend on our gullibility to swallow that impossible promise along with the compromises and discounts we may make with our own values or standards.  In a sellers’ market, goods are scarce and sellers can keep prices high.  And there are enough of us customers in this world.

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” – Ayn Rand

What do we do as consumers when we go through and experience the purchase?  We cloak our disappointments in the rationalization we do to let the supplier go scot free, without even them knowing that they fell short.  Suppliers couldn’t be happier.  We’re lapping up whatever is meted out, maybe happy in the retail therapy it provides us.  We compromise our demands for quality.

“I don’t pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.” – Robert Bosch

There’s always the balance between quality and price to think about.  What people may be able to afford, may not be good enough in their opinion.  In a buyers’ market, goods are plentiful and buyers can keep prices down.  Both, the suppliers or the customers could make compromises in quality, and in their demands.  Their wisdom and discernment defines the quality of their compromise at any given point in time.

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shuts down for ten years.” – Warren Buffett

This compromise is the beginning of the end, as far as economic growth goes, if it isn’t made with discernment.  Quality Professionals will jump up to say, “But Quality is meeting the Customers’ Requirements!”.  They will not take responsibility for the requirements being laissez-faire or their implied promise not being kept (they are covered by the T&C, you see, even if they started with the best intentions).

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

So we seem to be faced with the question – Does the replication and scaling up of laissez-faire goods in larger volumes have a positive impact on the economic growth?  Or does the discerning refinement of product features and value propositions, and then each scaling up (albeit to a lower scale) have a bigger positive impact on economic growth.

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” – Henry Ford

My own take is that as we go up the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, our discernment must increase, we must demand of ourselves to be more discerning, whether we are the customer or the supplier.  The higher up we are in Maslow’s Hierarchy, the more discerning we must be.  We must develop our own discernment to match the responsibility that we take at our position in life.

A mentor once told me that our wealth is defined not by how much money we have, but by how we spend it!!

— O —

What’s In a Name?

Why is a Name important… and why is it’s spelling equally so!

Because you need to find it again…

…And you will later look for (or refer to) it by the name you remember.  You will find the item only if it is tagged and stored in the system with the same name, spelt exactly the way you remember. The ‘system’ will not be able to help you find what you are looking for, if even one character is different.  The system could be another person or a computer file storage system.  And remember, even a blank space is a character for a computer system.

Unclear or uncertain names are the single most common cause for miscommunication between people – resulting in waste of time, conflicts, costly mistakes, and loss of brand value.

Which aspects of a Name make its use elegant and effective?

Brevity Not a mouthful, easy to pinpoint in a jiffy
Ease in spell Phonetic, commonly known spelling, distinct and easy even to tell someone else on the phone
Relevance Relevance to entity and its contents, indicative of meaning, associative, intuitive to search, easy to recall
Uniqueness Makes it possible to identify accurately and precisely, usually forced if used on a computer system
Sort-ability Gives the natural sequence in a list we might hold conceptually, easier to find and analyze
Structure Indicates ontology, hierarchy (and therefore context), sets and subsets

Which name-aspects can be most significant for various kinds of ‘things’?

  • For an email id – Brevity, Ease in spelling, Relevance
  • For a person’s name – Ease in spelling, Uniqueness
  • For a Brand – Relevance,  Uniqueness
  • For a computer file/folder name – Brevity, Relevance, Uniqueness, Sortability, Structure
  • For a Concept – Relevance, Uniqueness
  • … and the list could go on.

 

Names have a purpose.  Use them effectively as you engineer knowledge.

Happy Naming! 🙂

Want to Grow? Change the words you use…

Take more responsibility, be more responsible, how to use language which helps you take responsibility, even makes you take responsibility rather than give it away at every turn?

Hindi is my mother tongue, but there was something my Father used to say which struck me in a flash of insight years later!  Our language itself points us to give away responsibility and to not take it.  If what we say is also what we hear, every time we use such phrases or statements, we are telling ourselves that we weren’t responsible.

For example, take what happens when we misplace something.  In Hindi we say “cheez kho gayi, mil nahi rahi hai”.  Now note very carefully what we have done by framing our words like this.  The fact that the thing (‘cheez’) has been misplaced is expressed as if the fault was its own that it is not being found (‘mil nahi rahi hai’).

This needs more thought from us to figure out why we as a people of one language, or some other people, of another language, speak and behave differently.  One more responsible than another.  And I go back to one of my earliest writings Career Self-Reliance, where I had realized that growth happens when we take more responsibility, not when more responsibility is given to us.

An Industry of Hope, Belief, Trust, Integrity, and Responsibility!

What are the drivers for an industry? This is a question that gains significance as we try to grow an industry, leveraging the drivers to drive faster and farther.

The Automobile industry, for example, is driven by our needs as people, to travel safely and comfortably, from one place to another in as short a time as possible, affordably. Similarly, the Films and Entertainment Industry is driven by glamour, and the Food industry is driven by hunger and our need to be healthy.

Learning and Development is an Industry of Hope.
• Hope – of improved Competencies improving Performance, this is the entire raison d’etre for training.
• Belief – in People’s abilities impacting Performance, People’s Responsibility.  Hope is not enough, it needs to become a Belief, a conviction.
• Trust – in Teachers, to learn from them.  Without Trust, our minds do not open to receive.
• Integrity – of Teachers and Learners – with their Hope, Belief, and Trust.  The Integrity of purpose, and commitment to meet it in the simplest form is an imperative attribute for generating the value of new knowledge.
• Responsibility – of everyone – buyers, sellers, learners, teachers, and leaders – Responsibility about the Integrity and how it is manifested.

Training and Development of Human Resources is an industry of hope. This is so because the relationship between people’s capabilities and their performance is only a matter of hope for most managers.

Managers are not very sure, even if they feel responsible, about how they would convert a competency into performance. It is a heuristic for them to imagine how they would get more or better performance from someone with a better skill or knowledge.

This decision is driven by the managers’ wisdom, which depends on the understanding they build from their awareness, experience, and beliefs.

What managers must also realize is that their people’s performance depends not only on their competencies, but also on the goals, processes, plans and leadership they receive from the organization. Competent people are only the ‘raw material’ or ‘resource’ needed for performance.

To grow, we need to acknowledge the drivers and grow them so that there is (more) movement of business (value) across the various stakeholders of the industry.  We also need to recognize that without the understanding and belief in the drivers of this industry, businesses only become more expensive, not wealthier.

Is it a surprise then, how Learning & Development is an industry that needs the highest standards, values, and skills to be transformed into a business by all its stakeholders.