Our company philosophy is grounded in our unique coansulting approach.
In order to understand our unique approach to management consulting it is vital to understand first the history and nature of classical management consulting.
Consulting, or more specifically management consulting, is probably as old an activity as economic activity as such. However, formal, organized consulting started only in 1886, when Arthur D. Little, the world's first consulting firm, was founded.
Ever since (management) consulting was about helping organizations - be it for-profit organizations or non-profit organizations; manufacturers, service firms or distributors/ retailers - to improve their performance through analyses of existing or anticipated business challenges and development of action plans to counter or exploit identified internal and/ or external business challenges or opportunities.
Although management consulting has grown rapidly over time, yielding an industry sector size of nearly $125 billion world-wide in 2004, traditional management consulting approaches have been criticized by outside observers, clients of consulting firms, and by consulting firms themselves.
The three key points for criticism are:
- Jargon over substance:
Consultants often use jargon and buzzwords. Initially sounding impressive, often the language and terms used provide little theoretical, empirical, or logical substance that could be of productive use for clients. The cyclical appearance of new and "significantly improved" management models that later turn out to be short lived fads attest to this criticism.
- Concepts over implementation and impact:
Often, the sophisticated analyses, concepts, and plans developed and presented at the end of a management project fail to deliver its promises once implemented. Indeed the development of executable plans that deliver the anticipated impact is one of the main criticisms strategic management consultants face from their clients.
- Secrecy and myth over openness and knowledge exchange:
Consultants are criticized to be very secretive about their sources of knowledge and the underlying principles of their applied concepts. Often a mystical air is artificially created around organizations and people as a rationale to charge heavily, even for work done by junior consultants. Consequently, clients complain that they feel lost when it comes to implementing the proposed concepts and often discard them as a result.
Given the above criticism, Prof. Dr. Zhou developed a specific consultative approach to consulting in the 90s which led to the inception of her company Zhou Coansulting.
Coansulting is a mix of the two words coaching and consulting and specifically addresses the third critique of classical consulting "Secrecy and myth over openness and knowledge exchange" (see above).
Coaching means to tutor, train, or give hints to. In the managerial and consultative sense we use and understand coaching more specifically as instructing people to learn rather than teaching them and enabling them to do something that emerges out of their own abilities rather than playing the "I tell you what best to do" approach of classical consulting.
Key to this approach is unlocking a firms' given potential by understanding and stimulating its employees' individual skill potential, team skills, and willingness to perform and enriching this resource base with our external expertise. With this approach typical buy-in barriers in consulting projects with the subsequent inevitable implementation failures are overcome, because a suggested course of action is not externally imposed but has internally emerged. Moreover, the need for follow-up projects are significantly reduced, because skills transfer is also at the heart of coansulting. People are self-enabled to perform similar tasks on their own, once the project has ended. The approach inherent openness eliminates the secrecy and myth criticism of classical consulting as stated above.
We developed our coansultative approach during our first long-term assignment, starting in 1997.
Please contact us to learn more about our unique coansulting approach.