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Consulting readiness programs are most favored amongst consulting analysts and entry-level consultants. So if you are an aspiring consultant, this article might be of good value to you.
Every consultant would have gone through this training program at some point in time early during their career. Large consulting organizations invest heavily in their resources. The commitment that consulting organizations show towards training and continuous learning is truly inspiring. One such effort is the consulting readiness program.
What do they teach at consulting readiness program?
While a consulting profile requires many attributes, the consulting readiness program focuses on specific training areas that are considered key for consulting. Do keep in mind, that consulting readiness programs are not focused on grooming you into a consultant from scratch. These programs are meant for individuals who already have some industry experience and knowledge and would like to leverage those in the world of consulting. Now let us look at a few key attributes from a consulting readiness program.
a) Mind Mapping – Mind mapping is a popular exercise taught in consulting. Mind mapping is the process by which you map various tasks and activities of an idea in a visual structured form. Usually when mind mapping is completed, the resulting diagram looks like a big banyan tress with tons of roots hanging down. More often in consulting, you are always dumped with information. This exercise will effectively allow yo to filter the right information, map them to the basic idea / concept or business problem. It is intended to better structure a consultant’s thoughts and represent it.
b) Problem definition / Defining a problem statement – Another key area of consulting is understand a problem. Usually in consulting projects, you may be faced with situations where, you are thrown to the client and are required to identify their problems. These problems often tend to become independent consulting opportunities for the firm. So it is critical that when presented with a set of statements in a given business situation, a consultant is able to understand and identify the core problem (s) that the client is facing. This exercise is as close as it can get to consulting world.
c) Problem solving through case studies – Now a lot of us might think, this is a pain. But case studies are often a wealth of information and learning. I wouldn’t think there could be a consulting readiness program without case studies. Again depending on what you are being trained for, the cases studies would differ. As always you are dumped with a wealth of information in these case studies and as a consultant or an analyst you are expected to identify and understand business problem to come up with potential solutions. If you do not like case studies, then you may not like consulting
d) Communication skills – As I have always emphasized communication plays a vital role in consulting. As a part of the consulting readiness training program, you could very well expect role plays and case studies that focus exclusively on testing and developing your communication skills.
e) Power point skills – Thanks to Microsoft, the life of a consultant revolves around power point presentations. In consulting, like case studies, there is no escape from power point presentations. There are plenty of articles and options on presentations. In fact, there are some cool tips and tricks that one could learn in effectively using power point in the world of consulting through this program. Of course, some organizations have skill development exercises exclusively focused on power point skills. These may help you better.
All the attributes above belong to a mother characteristic of structured thinking and problem solving. So key is to develop structured thinking and problem solving capabilities in consulting. You can also expect to have other activities like team building, role play decision-making etc that may get added to the exercise depending on the day and the sessions post lunch.
Do consulting readiness program really live up to expectations?
Like every other learning program, the effectiveness of consulting readiness programs varies with participants. The focus of these programs are provide you with elementary direction on how to proceed and tune your thoughts to the world of consulting. If your expectation is that these programs stand-alone would help you become an exceptional consultant, then you may be in for a disappointment. Consulting readiness programs are enablers that allow a candidate to learn and shape their consulting careers better. The key word being “better”. This means, you already need to be good in certain aspects of consulting and this program would help you become better consultants
If you are entering the world of consulting then you may find these programs to be of great interest. But like every other walk of life, irrespective of what you learn, unless you are willing to apply them in your area of work or life, the skill set would die with time. So good luck. Ensure you learn as much as you can and apply them in all walks of life and work. Happy consulting!