Chocolate factory: a filter for consultancy talk

The added value of management consultants lies for a significant part in the fact that they bring real industry knowledge and personal experience to the table addressing your specific challenges. Obviously this is a good thing. But at the end of the day it is not about the generic options that a consultant can provide while you need to address specific issues for your company or in your market. How to ensure you get the best out of your consultant? You should apply the chocolate factory filter!

A lot of great reports and flashy consultancy presentations hold some generic kind of truth. And what is true for anyone is true for you as well. An ambitious consultant however should strive for more. And here the filter comes in: as long as the information flow between client and consultant could also apply to a chocolate factory, they are just scratching the surface.

Consulting speak can be confusing

The need to “shorten time to market”, “increase flexibility”and “leverage market knowledge” can be addressed by “focusing on core business”, “outsource commodity type of activities” and “optimize the governance with your vendors”. The real life examples are more elaborate but applying the chocolate factory filter is an easy way to expose them all and then decide whether this type of auto-pilot consultancy is sufficient in your case.

In my area of expertise (Sourcing) there are clear similarities between different client cases. And some recommendations hold true for any sourcing engagement since there seems to be some general dynamics in client/vendor relationships. Where applicable, the obvious needs to be stated explicitly since lessons learned in the industry and with other clients hold true value. The difference however between an OK advise and a great advise is the creativity that translates to the next level by identifying the unique challenges in a given client situation and addressing these with tailor made options. If it sound like a one-size-fits-all, there is probably room for improvement.

All good advise should pass the chocolate factory test. If that’s the case, you have maximum leverage from your management consultant. Please challenge us on that!