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I was once told that the only advice you should give is: 'never give advice unless it is asked for'. And that was by a person who seemed to have no end of unwanted advice to proffer. But at least that was one bit of valuable advice.
As consultants, part of our role IS to advise, although we usually do wait for at least some sort of tacit request before we dive in and start sharing our wisdom. However, our approach is to start the process of exploring the problem or issue as soon as possible. Our value comes from knowing what questions to ask, where to take the discussion next, identifying areas that perhaps need deeper probing. And, we find that when we do eventually come to offering advice about a way forward, it is much easier to digest and accept by our clients if they have been involved in the process of understanding the problem and defining the question.
When people have to make a decision about a way forward, especially if that is a big business decision, it is so much easier if they feel they fully understand the issue they are trying to address. Knowing where you need to go becomes so much easier if you know where you are.
And, time after time, we find that once the question or underlying issue is clarified, then often the solution becomes readily apparent.
So, here's a bit of advice, as you asked (you did - you opened this email): next time you have a challenging situation, give yourself some advice, you don't need to wait for a consultant.
We know that one of the best ways of learning a subject is to teach it. As you try to explain various elements of your subject, some parts flow and you can explain quite easily, and in some parts you stumble and realise that perhaps you are a bit vague and so you can generate questions about what you need to read up on. Then try to explain it again.
The same goes with giving advice - which is a type of teaching.
Your mind is great at seeing patterns – you just need to give it the opportunity to have things to see and connect. Once connected, you probably have most of what you need to develop a solution.
Of course, as consultants, we are always here to offer other perspectives, help further understand issues and generate more solutions.
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