Personal Development

Consulting Skills

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#rituals of #theBeautifulJourney ?

#2021monthlyArticle series

This article is about another course provided by my employer that I was happy to take. Unlike the Lean Six Sigma one that I’ve done in my own time, this required work time committment. Very happy that I was enabled to do it!

This course is intense! You can’t do this course and have the same work commitments at the same time. Not when you’ll have mandatory meetings to attend, which by the way, are run by two external facilitators:

  • 3h course kick-off meeting
  • 4 x 5h workshops (4 consecutive days)
  • 3h final meeting
  • ~6h of team meetings across 6 weeks, most of this time spent during the first 4 weeks.

On top of this, you add extra time (after work for me) for individual assignments and preparation for team tasks. Now let me tell you some things about how the course looks and what the experience was about.

The mission

By the end of the course, the team must deliver a client presentation consisting of an interim report of a commercialization strategy for a new drug.

The project data

We were provided with a Case Brief for the drug, a data pack covering the findings from market surveys, market financial data, as well as an Engagement Lifecycle Task List and Case Study Proposal.

The client

The role of the client was played by two senior colleagues in the company. My team presented the interim report to our VP, Commercial & Consulting Services, EMEA.

The team

The team is decided and announced by the facilitators and will consist of colleagues from all over the world. My team had some brilliant people in it, three of them consultants and one senior engineer.

The team activities

Along the way to the client presentation, the team must submit other work as well. These team activities, organized by the team, were:

  1. Assessing the team – personal working styles, team ground rules, etc.
  2. Problem Definition – covering context, client objectives, barriers, project objectives.
  3. Issues Analysis
  4. Hypothesis Questions
  5. Data Requirements Plan

In the workshops, led by facilitators, we worked on our presentation on:

  • Facts analysis for building conclusions
  • Storyboarding

The individual activities

Watch the video trainings and submit a case brief analysis about the positive, negative, interesting aspects about the project, product, stakeholders.

The very last task is to reflect (on one’s working style, key takeaways, contribution, preferred activity, changes to make & their measure of success) and plan (actions to take short term & long term, prioritized & with KPIs).

The work

How the work was done:

  • We took turns in facilitating the meetings for team activities and each of us presented & answered questions in the meeting with the client.
  • Each team in the course (three in total) offered feedback to the other teams’ workshop outputs during those workshops.
  • We received feedback from facilitators on each team activity and from the client and facilitators on the last presentation we did.
  • I’ve set up our meetings so that we complete tasks in time, and kept track of team activity feedback, any follow-up needed based on that, any remaining tasks and our deadlines.
  • The facilitators insisted on Camera On for the duration of the course.

The learnings

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things we practiced at various degrees:

  • Facilitation of meetings
  • Giving, accepting and implementing feedback
  • Presentation skills (incl. for online presentations)
  • Analysing data
  • Presenting data in a meaningful way
  • Organizing work in a distributed team
  • Working with executive people
  • Focusing on value-add content
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Scope management
  • Asking: What does this mean for the client?
  • The specific techniques taught in the course (see below)

The course content

The course covered four components of successful consulting:

  • The Engagement Lifecycle model
  • 7-Step Problem Solving
  • Working in Teams
  • Storyboarding

One last thing I’ll say in favour of the course is the great experience of working in a team for the required tasks. On top of the course content, my lasting impression is about the teamwork, the people, how great it was to see the openness, the curiosity, the interest, the patience, the different background and experience shine through. Great team!

Until next time… enjoy the teamwork!

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