The role of business consulting has undergone profound changes over the past twenty years, depending on the changing needs of the business. Until the eighties, although this is a rather simplified generalization, it can be said that Italian companies did not have within themselves adequate tools to determine a coherent corporate strategy. The entrepreneurial spirit had to be supported and structured with appropriate business management skills, and therefore consultants were asked to provide these skills and develop a coherent strategic plan. In recent years, due to the different dynamics of the markets, the ease of dissemination of know-how and the greater transparency of competitors, companies have acquired high skills for developing a strategy, and they are increasingly being asked for management consulting – support for implementing a strategy that has already been developed within the company.
The role of consulting is gradually expanding: from developing a strategy as an excellent theoretician (leaving the company the task of its implementation, often falsifying), we moved on to developing a strategy that was implementation-oriented from the very beginning and this requires certain sustainable changes on the part of the organization. Consultants are also asked to encourage change by focusing their energy on determining what needs to be changed (processes, skills portfolio) to implement a specific strategy. This requires significant dialectical as well as analytical skills: we often have to deal with internal sponsors and, at first glance, reliable, but revealing potential shortcomings of strategic options. It is not always easy to convince this part of the leadership that perhaps it spent its money on these decisions. In a landscape with a more complex clientele on average than ten years ago, the true competitive advantage of the company lies not so much in (or not only) in the kindness of its strategy, but in its ability to achieve it at its best, anticipating its consequences.
Management consulting – organizational and process character. For example, it is now widely recognized that the guiding principle of a “good strategy” is reconfiguration of the value chain; such reconfiguration (expansion, input / output sources, integration, redistribution of value added, etc.) is not easy to design, but it is even more difficult to achieve. It is in this implementation that the consultant is called upon to participate: the ability to develop solutions is a necessary but not sufficient condition; A consultant is also assessed for his ability to create organizational conditions for making choices.
In accordance with the changed priorities given to the support of consultants, the professionalism needed by the consultant must also adapt: if the development of innovative strategic solutions requires high analytical and problem-solving skills, the implementation of business changes that involve these solutions also requires careful preparation of the project. management, the ability to understand and dominate group dynamics, as well as the ability, including in communication, to mediate the opposite pressure coming from various business functions (business consulting).
And it is precisely in these professions that the customer increasingly determines the true added value of management consulting: unlike internal resources, solving project management problems can help break down the barriers between functions and process disruptions and consolidated behavior is necessary as never before to make the necessary changes. But change is only achievable if they are shared and sponsored by key people in the company; therefore, the consultant should use his own mediation, communication and client resource management skills to create a positive moment for change. The image of the consultant included in the ivory tower of strategic abstractions is replaced by the image of the consultant who works side by side with the company’s resources, determining the types of activities that must be completed, the timing and bottlenecks of the project, but also stimulating the attraction and motivation of internal resources needed element for dissolving various resistance to changes.