I often have a hard time describing what I do. I mean, I’m an HR technology guy, but I don’t implement anything. And telling non-HR people that there are a whole slew of HR technologies out there to serve a wide variety of business outcomes is strange to most of the population. When I tell people I’m an HR consultant, more often than not, people respond with, “Oh, you’re a recruiter then?” Not that I have anything against recruiters, but consultants in an organization play a different and important role.
Often we think about things from a different vantage point simply because we we don’t have some of the current state baggage that incumbents have. Often, we are not constrained and therefore do a better job of thinking about projects with the end state in mind rather than the current state. I’m often surprised by an incumbent’s inability to redesign and think outside of the current state as they try to figure out the future state. Often, we can’t redefine a portion of a process because some downstream application or proceed depends on it being done the way it is today. But the thinking does not work since perhaps if we asked around, those downstream systems would tell us how poor the current state process really is. Another example is when we upgrade reporting tools and recreate reports without doing an investigation of how many of the recipients are not even with the company anymore (yes, this has happened to me).
Consultants tend to have a wider variety of experiences. It’s not that we’re any smarter, because I’m quite convinced that most of my clients are pretty damn smart. However, when I’ve helped clients create 5 technology roadmaps in the last 12 months or 3 business intelligence approaches in the last 9 months, I have a better awareness of where the market is going and what are new emerging practices.
The last thing is that consulting is not about being smart, although good consultants are. Great consultants are about approach. The methodology consultants bring to help organizations think through a problem in a methodical way is what creates value. All the smarts and all the market knowledge in the world does not mean very much if your consultant can’t look at your organization and approach your specific problem in a way that links them to their future.
I’m certainly not trying to sell myself, but it’s just a thought that when I tell people I’m in HR consulting, 80% of the time people assume I’m a recruiter and the other 20% I get a blank stare.