The “80/20 rule” (also known as the Pareto principle) is generally explained as “80% of the outcomes are defined by 20% of the causes”. Mention the 80/20 rule in a boardroom and you will likely see most people around the table nodding up and down as if this were not just a rule of thumb, but rather a law carved in stone. Another way to employ this rule is “the last 20% of a job usually commands 80% of the effort”. If you are a Project Manager or are a seasoned executive you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Consider these examples of how the 80/20 rule might manifest itself your business:
• 80% of a company's profits come from 20% of its customers
• 80% of a company's complaints come from 20% of its customers
• 80% of a company's sales are made by 20% of its sales team
If in fact 80% of the outcomes (or problems) are often defined by 20% of the causes, and the last 20% of a job (to completely solve a problem) commands 80% of the effort; would it not make sense for savvy consultants to tackle the problems with solutions known to be 80% on target from inception? (I know, a lot a percentages but stick with me.)
With this problem-solving consulting methodology the clients see results “out of the gates” and a sizeable chunk of the problem is corrected with modest effort. With significant ROI established, the expert consultant can then focus their efforts and intellectual capital on fine tuning the last 20% to achieve a perfectly fitted solution for the client.
Regardless of size or industry, most business problems in B2B companies share about 80% of common causes. When an expert consultant knows what they are, why not start with those known and tested solutions first? (And if the consultant doesn’t know what they are and where to look, then that is a different type of problem.)
This is where next generation consulting is coming into play.
Next generation consulting is a smart, efficient and effective solutions-oriented approach that challenges the traditional consulting standard. Going away are the days when a team of expensive suits show up to a client to conduct “due diligence” and “proper discovery” for an obscene amount of time and money – only to months later finally recommend a solution they should have already known to exist and work.
Next generation consulting doesn’t advocate for no due diligence or discovery as those are always necessary components of consulting. It applies best-practices, lessons-learned and leverages the 80/20 rule so consultants show up with viable solutions already in hand. It doesn’t waste valuable time, money and effort to “reinvent a special wheel” for every client.
In the end, consultants should always be a subject matter expert in their field. If he or she can’t identify the client’s fundamental problem(s) in a matter of hours or perhaps a handful of days; he or she should re-think the self-awarded and often abused “consultant” moniker and not take the job.
In next generation consulting, the experts show up to implement solutions from day one; delivering value and results immediately. They are diligent, focused and on target, placing their knowledge and “brain equity” into delivering a solution quickly, efficiently and effectively – then tailoring their efforts to resolve the last 20% of the problem.