When we look at surveys and publications about trends in the consulting industry, clients wanting faster results is always present on the list. And it's often rated as the most important trend for consulting partners across different fields and domains.
Clients now expect consultants to create change immediately.
This, however, is not aligned with the traditional business model of most consulting practices. Firms and advisors often rely on what is known as "linear projects".
In it, consultants start with a lengthy research project. Then present a report or diagnostic. Next, they come up with recommended suggestions and a plan of action. And finally, after all those steps, consultants start to implement changes.
This is a solid process, but one that does not fit with this demand for speed.
That's why one of the most important pillars of your value proposition, as a consultant, is "time to value". Clients look for and prefer consultants who can accelerate the speed of their impact. Doing so will give you a concrete advantage in their hearts and minds.
But in practice, how do you do this? I've been interviewing boutique consulting firms for a long piece on innovative consulting business models, and have spotted a couple of patterns.
Many consultants who accelerate impact do so by making results visible more often (using a framework such as "scrum", for example) or by drastically reducing research time (simplifying data collection and using proprietary data to benchmark or analyze results).
The most extreme example of decreasing time to value is what some researchers call "instant consulting": a consultant who spends almost no time on research at the client but sets to work directly on solving a problem.
This is only possible if the firm has already developed a heavily customized solution that can be put to use immediately. It could be a productized training for a very narrow niche. Or having access to real-time client information and proactively working to solve issues - which also affects the role of the consultant.
A question for you: How could you accelerate the speed of your impact and deliver faster results to clients, without sacrificing the quality of your advice?