I was delivering a course this week in Germany with a great group of project managers, and we were talking about ‘walking in the shoes of their clients’ as a means to a better understanding of and empathy for their client’s business.  This got me thinking about walking in the shoes of our clients at Kingsfield Consulting, who have been typically contractors on the brink of or in the midst of a dispute.  And this led me to question what are our clients’ reasons for employing a consultant like us? Would I employ us, if I was in their shoes? I came to the conclusion that the answer would often be ‘no, not as a consultant’, which may seem odd and business limiting for Kingsfield!

I’d like to offer my thoughts on this by way of explanation.  There are occasions where bringing in a consultant can make a significant difference to change the trajectory of a dispute or claim.  If the matter at dispute is extremely business critical, then it’s worth seeking an opinion from experts like us who work with these challenges all the time.  When the sums of money involved are running into millions, then an investment in improving the probability of a successful outcome seems like sound business practice.  Other circumstances could be when a third party opinion is needed, either to deliver to the other party or for your senior management.  Or you may just not have enough internal resources at the moment you need them, so outsourcing is sensible.

But in general, we are seeing that our clients want to address the change, claim or dispute themselves.  Apart from saving money, your teams know the project better than any outside consultant ever will, you will probably get better traction if you handle it internally, and in the end you will almost certainly want to negotiate directly with the other party.  And it’s hard to argue with that.  We also are fervent believers in continual learning and creating an enabling environment for people to grow their skills.  However when the stakes are high, that environment may need reinforcing or temporarily supporting in order to minimise any potential fall-out on the organisation or the individuals.  If we were in your shoes, I feel sure that we would want to encourage our leaders and teams to develop their expertise in commercial matters, to push boundaries but allow them to do this safely, and perhaps offer a guiding hand where needed along the way.

In responding to what we perceive is a significant shift in need from our clients, Kingsfield has lately been increasingly providing project coaching services, as an alternative to or in conjunction with consulting.  We work as your collaborative project partner, at whatever level is needed in your organisation whether that be with the executive management, project director and/or team members.  We can provide cost effective coaching support throughout the project lifecycle or at critical points such as when a dispute is looming.  Your teams do the majority of the work but we can guide, challenge, advise and step in with hands on support if needed.  By building trust and confidence in our partnership, then as challenges emerge – as they surely will on any project – you can immediately lean on that relationship for effective, practical and quick support.

We are excited about this evolution of our consulting practice and would welcome an opportunity to come and talk to you about how this might work in your organisation.  Just get in touch…

Karen Cherrill – Director Kingsfield Consulting