You may think that most consultants have a Business background: recruitment; an MBA; strong corporate footings that give you confidence in boardrooms and with spreadsheets. While I spent five years at university, I started off in Biological Science, performing my own cancer research and even learning anatomy from studying cadavers.
So, how did I get a job in consulting?
The bulk of my learning revolved around the what and the why: what is the issue and why does it happen? This is the very essence of science. In fact, civilisations have been built upon these two questions. The beautiful thing is that they are applicable to almost everything, and they get to the core of the problem immediately.
Business meshes particularly well with the scientific method, and this is one of the reasons why I am where I am now at 460degrees.
As consultants, we deal with challenges every day. We don’t get involved with everyday business, we get our hands dirty and help businesses solve their problems. The scientific method helps cut out significant amounts of time in the process by getting to the heart of the challenge quickly. No need for hours of conversations postulating about potential fixes or lamenting poor practices of the past. Together with our clients, we work out what your problem is, why it’s a problem, and how we’re going to fix it. It can be beautifully simple.
As a business analyst, I get to work on projects. Performing cancer research was a project too. All research is technically a project. This is great because my background becomes incredibly useful here.
Let’s say a client wants to implement major new software across their business. What do we do?
- Hypothesise. This is a relatively small step in business compared to science, but it still happens. The company begins to wonder how a new piece of software would help their business.
- Research. This is usually done by sending out a request for proposal (RFP) or request for information (RFI) to any vendors who may be able to solve your problem. This involves asking questions about how the software can solve the business’s problems or help innovate.
- Analysis. Responses to the RFP are scored based on how well the company answered your questions and how well the software functionality adheres to the business needs. In addition to this – because this is business we’re talking about – cost also plays a big part in this decision.
- Implement. The equivalent step here in science would be a pharmaceutical company finally selling a new drug after lots of research. The pay-off after all the hard work. But as you can see – the bulk of the effort is expended well before this step. Hypothesis, research and analysis is so important to the success of a project, and cannot be skipped or overlooked.
Obviously, there are other things that need to be considered during this process and things can be altered here or there where needed. The beautiful simplicity of the scientific method is clear, and that’s what I love. My clients often ask me to come back and work for them again, and to me that’s the greatest compliment I can be given as a consultant. It means what I’ve been doing has worked.
To find out more about Jesse and how he can add value to you and your business firstname.lastname@example.org