There is nothing more frustrating than moving faster in the wrong direction, and this is precisely what happens when you provide a solution to the wrong problem. All management consultants understand that identifying the real problem is half the solution, that’s why we use different tools to diagnose and understand the real challenges and issues that the client faces. Questionnaires are one of the essential tools you as a management consultant may use as a stand-alone tool or in structured and semi-structured interviews. John Smith, a consultant at ABC Company, emphasizes that management consulting companies invest time and effort in designing effective questionnaires. Smith shared with iAgility his top 5 tips on developing useful questionnaires and surveys.
- INITIATE A CONVERSATION
It is not advisable to start by asking questions that imply blame, such as “what is the problem?” , “what is going on?” or “what’s wrong?’. Focus at the beginning on understanding the goals of your client and what’s they are trying to achieve.
- FIND FACTS NOT HYPOTHESIS
It is essential to understand the actual situation by asking targeted questions that might help you identify performance issues such as competency, service levels, customer satisfaction, or real time to perform a task. Do not ask questions subjective questions because you will only get subjective answers. Ask specific questions that will help you identify the problem owner without falling into the blame-game.
- BE TIME SENSITIVE
Time is another critical dimension in diagnosing the real problem. By understanding the problem timeframe (for how long the problem existed and when did it start), you will understand when and why the problem manifested itself. Also, realize when the unfavourable results began to affect the business performance, or financial issues started to come up. These are all vital information that will help you pinpoint the root-cause of the problem.
- UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIPS
In business, it is all about relationships. There are several levels of cultures that as a management consultant you have to understand and deal with:
- The overall organizational culture,
- The unit culture, such as the division or the department, and
- The team culture.
These three levels of culture determine the quality of relationships between the team members and different levels of the management team, as well as the link between the problems and other problems or issues, exist within the organization. Ask questions that can help you identify and investigate those relationships.
- CAN YOU REALLY SOLVE THE PROBLEM
You might be able to identify and diagnose the real problem and recommend the right solution. However, without fully understand the client’s capacity to implement your recommendations, you won’t solve any problem. Consider asking some questions that will help you understand the available resources, the ability of the client’s personnel to implement the recommendation, and finally their willingness to change.
The diagnostic stage of any management consulting g project is crucial, so make sure that you design the right tools to understand the problem correctly and it’s root-causes. Don’t focus only on the technical aspects of the solution as there are other dimensions to be considered, such as relationships and team expertise. Finally, never attack the problem owner. Your primary role is to recommend the right solution, facilitate the change and help the client implement your recommendations.