For many years consultants have clung to their intellectual property, tools and techniques and practices that have made them successful and generated income for them from their clients. No longer is this the case.
The internet, technology, social media, and explosion in the sharing of knowledge has transformed consulting, business and education along with many other industries. No longer can consultants profess to be the purveyors of all knowledge, tools, methodologies and practices. It has become accessible to everyone literally with a one word search, the joining of a forum or click of an application. Consultants can no longer profess to know more than their clients. As Jack Welch the great CEO from General Electric said in a recent interview I listened to “knowledge is no longer power because everyone has it”.
In my opinion, this explosion of accessibility of knowledge has and will continue to lead to the separation of great consultants and the average ones. The former will recognise the shift and realise that there is still a place in the market for consultants to lead clients with that knowledge and leverage and teach insights for clients, their industries, markets and people. In some ways, they will be like a compass aligning their clients to their true north and helping them to filter the useful from the myriad of knowledge that is available.
The latter group of consultants will cling on to the safe harbour of the known hoping that people will still pay for their “valuable” knowledge and praying that their status and power will remain that has been built up over years in their industries and markets. What they are failing to realise is that the black box walls around this knowledge is coming down with globalisation, technology and clients expectation that they want more than knowledge from consultants. They want a shift from recommendations to tangible results and outcomes.
It is a great opportunity for consultants to get stronger with their relationships with clients, be brave in working through leveraging knowledge and truly become an expert and trusted advisor in the knowledge economy. Knowledge is indeed not power. True power and respect will come from your clients when you are brave in telling them what they need to hear rather than what they might want to hear and generously leveraging your thirst for knowledge into valuable insights for their businesses. Take them along for the journey and the power will always reside with you!