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Advisors and Consultants

  • June 30, 2013
  • By JJ Johnson
  • In Advisory

Advisors and Consultants

Words mean different things to different people which is why it is important to get to the definitions.

The Chinese were correct when they said that wisdom is in the vocabulary. For example. Two friends are at a Starbucks enjoying a cup of Sumatra French roast. Both have differing descriptions of the taste and flavor profile they are experiencing. What is dark and rich to one is toasty and burnt to another. Same taste, different description choice.

Back to advisors and consultants…..What is the difference between the two? Here is my take. Advisors are paid to ask questions and consultants are paid to answer questions. Obviously there is some cross-over to the process, but they are usually brought on to accomplish different objectives.

Consultants usually participate in discrete engagements that require a specific skill set. Examples would include helping build out an HR department for a growing company, introducing the right technology to or conducting a marketing audit to fit into an overall strategic plan. There is a beginning, a middle and an end to the engagement and then it is on to the next project.

Advisors tend to reside at the 50,000 foot level offering advice from the broader perspective. More a sage, shrink (like my father) or trusted confidant. They make sure that strategies and initiatives fit into the long view mission and vision of a firm. Not a short term quick fix that usually don’t work. These quick fixes (from the latest magazine article or barstool expert) are usually tactics in search of a non-existent objective.

Companies need both advisors and consultants; sometimes at the same time and sometimes at different times. Be sure you know which one you need and when.

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” - STEVE JOBS

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