For many, strategic advice is still an “elusive” activity, and there are many misconceptions and misconceptions about it. This is primarily the fault of the profession itself, since it is well known that once a company has “burned itself” with a consultancy, it loses confidence in strategic consulting. In the last two decades this has been a serious problem for those with real expertise in the profession. In addition, advice alone is no longer enough for clients, who know that it is easy to talk big, clever talk – or at least talk big, clever talk – but that success requires implementation, putting it into practice and managing the whole process. This expectation then turned the traditional order on its head, and made the work of consultants very clearly measurable. The result of this process is an increasing trust and demand for mentoring.
The strategic consultant
First of all, it should be made clear that no one in the world is currently being trained for this profession. Consequently, the professional public is already divided as to what the job itself is and what hard and soft skills are required. There is no clear direction or big book to write and follow if companies want to be sure. But that is also the beauty of the profession, that it is a very flexible job, constantly adapting to market changes. Although I would rather say that it is an increasingly complex profession, because you need more and more knowledge to do a good job. It should also be noted that, precisely because of this “amoeba” nature and the fact that strategy is somewhere at the top of the business agenda, more and more people are wanting to become strategic consultants. In fact, many say so, even though they have little to do with the profession. It is, of course, a matter of character, but there are also individuals who want to sell themselves, who think that communication can solve everything. They are just simple sales people, although they may call themselves ‘business development managers’ for a punchier name. But that doesn’t change the fact: they usually sell themselves as a product, but they can’t produce a strategy. There used to be a lot of these ‘consultants’ running around the market, but the 2008 crisis reduced their numbers as it became clear what they could and could not do. But it is important to know that in a crisis, they always come out and try to take advantage of, or rather abuse, the position of the business decision-maker in distress, because when you are at a loss, it is often better than nothing to have someone say something, even if they have neither ears nor tail.
The other large group of “strategic advisers” is made up of multicats who have reached a suitable position in a large company or even a start-up. Of course, this is also a question of character, since here too the “desire to attract attention” is necessary, sometimes a healthy, but in most cases rather unhealthy “attention-seeking”. Today, however, fewer and fewer people are attempting this genre, as this methodology has also suffered a serious setback in the last two decades. The point is that, by claiming to have managed, say, a large company, someone is claiming the right to sell himself as a consultant on the basis of a multi-career. But anyone who has had a career at a certain level in a multinational is well aware that, with the exception of the international headquarters, they cannot really do real corporate strategy, and if they do, they have a big team around them, and they are certainly not the strategist, because they would not be working inside the company, but outside. Although it’s important for strategy consultants to have some kind of multicareer behind them, or to see a successful startup working from the inside, growing up. But there is very rarely any overlap between the building and methodology of two companies that would make it valuable to have ever managed an international network. And in the case of local CEOs of multinationals, it is almost impossible to acquire real strategic knowledge that they can actually apply as strategists in developing other companies. So the solution in strategic consulting remains that the number of methods built up by a given consultant, and their success rate, determines expertise and experience. Otherwise, we are talking about a “blind leading the blind” situation.