You’re going to read this article quickly. I wrote it quickly. Why? Because speed matters. Injecting more speed into your consulting practice will increase your value to clients, increase your success in the marketplace, and increase your enjoyment in consulting.
The Faster You Complete a Task, the More Value You Create
A prospect calls half a dozen consultants. Most firms take days or weeks to respond. You respond within hours. Who’s more likely to win the project?
A client struggles with a problem. You could deliver a solution in two months or two weeks. Which do you think he values more?
You could publish your IP in a new book three years from now or six months from now. Which will attract clients sooner?
You could stay up until midnight finishing your latest article, or you could finish it by six and spend the evening with your family. Which plan creates a happier life?
In every case, speed wins. Speed creates value. Speed attracts clients and supports a healthy lifestyle.
The Faster You Can Complete a Task, the More Likely You Are to Complete It
Speed is a force multiplier. Obviously, if you can finish a project in one week rather than one month, you have an extra three weeks to generate even more value.
But here’s the kicker: if you can finish a project in one week rather than one month, you are more likely to finish it!
Speed Doesn’t Require Quality Shortcuts. Speed is a Shortcut to Quality
Fast doesn’t mean reckless. You don’t want your heart-surgeon to skip sutures in his quest for a new speed record. On the other hand, finding ways to safely operate faster reduces the risk of fatigue-induced errors, infection from circulating air, and so forth.
When you’re focused on speed you finish rapidly, judge the quality of your output, and, if necessary, improve your work.
When my clients call me, I respond swiftly then ask, “Did you get what you need? How else can I be of service?” If they want more, they get more. I don’t over-deliver and they receive exactly what they need, exactly when they need it most.
Inject Speed into Every Phase of Consulting
Create IP – Develop each idea expeditiously, then promptly test it in the market. If it fails, you learn quickly and move on. If it gains traction, you find out in no time, build on it, and succeed before you can say “Copyright.”
Build Visibility – Produce content faster. Speed allows you to publish more articles, deliver more webinars, and run more campaigns. Plus, brisk turnaround allows you to publish timely, topical content.
Win Business – Respond immediately to inquiries and turn around proposals pronto. Your rapid response make the client feel important, and that’s a big plus in your column.
Deliver Value – Produce results faster so that clients can enjoy success sooner. Don’t confuse additional analysis, lengthier presentations, and protracted processes with client value. Your client wants the shortest path to a successful outcome.
Learn and Improve – Ask for feedback frequently. At the end of every call with my clients I ask, “Was this of value?” Why wait until the end of a project to discover growth opportunities? Improve now.
Obey Your Deadlines
How do you increase your speed?
Use Systems and Frameworks. Don’t waste time reinventing your approach every time.
Adopt an Iterative Mindset. What I call a “C to a B to an A” approach to development consistently yields better results in a fraction of the time compared to a linear approach.
Delegate to Someone Faster. Build a team and hand each task to the most capable person.
Obey Your Deadlines. This will increase your speed more than any other principle. Set deadlines and meet them. No excuses. It works for every phase of consulting.
Has speed worked for you? Where can you inject a dose of speed into your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.
Interested to understand what a C to a B to an A approach means.
There’s a story (and blog post) behind this, but the punchline is this: Whatever you’re working on (at any phase from IP development to marketing to delivering work), do just enough to get a passing grade–a C. You can accomplish that quickly while ensuring everything is in place to be a decent, if not great, effort.
Then you circle back and improve your work enough that it would warrant a B. Again, that can be accomplished quickly. You continue to return to your work, improving it iteration by iteration, until you have achieved an A or A+.
This approach is fast and effective. I learned it in 1982 and have applied it broadly, with enormous success ever since. Decades later, software development professionals coined the turn “agile development” for (I think) a similar approach.
Thanks, great article!
You’re welcome, Margery. I’m impressed you wrote a comment so quickly! 😉
Thanks, David, this is of value and much appreciated.
Excellent, Hayward. I look forward to hearing how you inject speed into your practice.
Once again, a very helpful insight towards building a successful and profitable practice. I’ve noticed a trend among consultants, they are often analytical and creative types. The challenge with these characteristics is scope creep – which can extend project timelines. By developing a tighter, meaningful statement of work (SOW) to guide outcomes and deliverables it will be easier to know when you are done, cutting off incremental work (and time). Without this guide, we tend to continue to refine our work (often well past the need or value proposition) or (worse) take our clients off on tangents which can also confuse our value to them. Further, the completion of an assignment brings an opportunity to re-cap value and explore further assignments or referrals. Take advantage of these cycles as often as possible to generate stronger brand identity and faster organic growth. The energy and momentum will be higher with smaller SOW, rapidly delivered, that build value for the client rather than a larger SOW with a much more drawn out timeline. Our clients count on our experience and insight to guide them on their continuous improvement journey – guard against stretching this experience out into a death march…
You’ve contributed a wealth of valuable ideas, David. Speed can curtail scope creep if, as you said, you tightly define your outcome and you rush to the end, not past it. That’s a great notion, and I’m glad you highlighted it.
The cumulative benefit of achieving multiple, small wins with your client is an advantage of speed that all of us could take advantage of more. One of the reasons I like engagements that involve regular, structured client interaction is we get to set goals and achieve them frequently. That creates momentum, which begets further achievement and even higher client value.
Thanks for the thoughtful input, David.
A perfect approach. Speed and responsiveness go a long way in communications and action.
You’re darn tootin’ Thom! Swift engagement with your client creates a stronger bond than “complete” or “correct” engagement. Your clients aren’t expecting you to be perfect; but they do want you to view them as important, which is what you’re demonstrating when you respond to them quickly. I appreciate you commenting, Thom.