In today’s highly-charged and competitive global business community, acquiring the services of a professional consultant can make all of the difference between success and failure. As noted in the preface to The Practice of Professional Consulting, author Edward G. Verlander, chairman of the international management consulting firm of Verlander, Wang, & Company, consultants are considered as the equivalents of the builders and architects that constructed the great Medieval cathedrals of Europe who instead of utilizing stone and mortar use “data, information, and technology systems that enable companies to make money” by exploiting and selling desirable information (2012, p. xv). Also, professional consultants that focus on business management serve as engineers that redesign “organizational structures, administrative systems, and workflows” in order to make a company or other business venture as profitable as possible in a world overflowing with stiff competition (Verlander, 2012, p. xv).
Verlander adds that according to the United States Office of Personnel Management and the prestigious Association of Management Consulting Firms, the profession of consulting “continues to expand (its) global reach” and that as of 2012, the practice of consultation is now a $350 billion global industry with no end in sight to its growth and influence in relation to companies and businesses that operate on a global scale (2012, p. 3). Part of the reason for this expansive growth is due to the fact that professional consultants have become responsible for “executive coaching and leadership development,” not to mention advising companies on “how to build and run a corporate learning academy” and be responsible business entities (Verlander, 2012, p. 4) within the global business community.
As defined by Milan Kubr, the editor and compiler of Management Consulting: A Guide to the Profession, three of the most important issues or areas related to professional consultation, especially regarding business management, are 1), consultation and change; 2), consultation and culture; and 3), consultation in reference to professionalism and ethics. The first issue is considered as the “raison d’ etre of management consulting” via assisting in “planning and implementing change in client organizations.” Several concepts related to this issue includes understanding the nature of change in relation to the business environment; the organization itself; and the people that work for a given company or business (2002, pp. 85-89).
The second issue concerns how change is influenced, if not controlled, by the power of culture or a “system of collectively shared values, beliefs, traditions, and behavioral norms.” Some of the concepts related to this issue includes understanding and respecting the various cultures that a professional consultant may encounter; becoming “culture-conscious” by appreciating the intricacies of a given culture; and becoming “culture-tolerant” or understanding why and how a particular culture operates as it does (Kubr, 2002, pp. 113-115).
The third issue is perhaps the most important, due to the fact that a professional consultant must act as a professional at all times and practice certain ethics. As Kubr points out, it is vitally important for the professional management consultant to recognize “what is proper and what is improper behavior in providing a professional service” (2002, pp. 129-130). This is even more relevant when the consultant interacts with cultures and communities that have different ethical norms or ways of behaving and acting toward other individuals. But overall, basic ethical norms are shared by all cultures and in order for the professional consultant to remain as such, he/she must fully acknowledge and practice these norms on a global scale.
Kubr, M., ed. (2002). Management consulting: A guide to the profession. 4th ed. Geneva:International Labour Office.
Verlander, E.G. (2012). The practice of professional consulting. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer/John Wiley & Sons, Inc.