Whenever you meet new people, you often start with the casual “what do you do?” conversation. For me that sounds like:
“I’m a consultant at Duval Union Consulting and also a speaker on Bitcoin and the Blockchain”.
Most people get that I’m a consultant, but what does a consultant really do?
“You talk a lot about vague ideas but don’t actually create anything!”
This is a common perception about consultants and I’m sure it’s well-founded and often very true.
I can’t speak for all consultants as I don’t know many of them and don’t spend much time learning about their methods. I work at a rather atypical consulting firm where we create our own approach to help our clients, instead of using existing methods. I’d say so far this has worked out quite well for us, but this post isn’t about us versus them. I’ll let our clients that have also worked with other consulting firms be the judge of what they prefer, that’s what matters. There’s also all kinds of consultants, I’ll just explain what we do here.
What is it that we do?
Our main business at Duval Union Consulting is Digital Transformation, which is about helping organisations deal with all the challenges in the (digital) world that they (will) have to deal with. These are often new, complex and/or unknown to them.
Digital Transformation is not about websites, webshops or apps, it’s about business strategy. What kind of company will you (need to) be in the digital-first future and how can you work towards that?
Pretty much all of our clients ask us for an outcome that gives them a good strategic framework, while at the same time being as practical as possible. This can be tough to achieve within the time they hired us (usually about 2–10 days of which 1–5 at our client), but we feel our clients are increasingly enthusiastic about the outcomes of our projects.
My colleagues and I guide businesses through their Digital Transformation journey. We help them turn digital from something at the sideline that nobody is really responsible for, to a core part of the organisation that adds real value. To achieve that we do several things, which I’ll break down below.
This is the foundation of our services, think of it as a radar system to pick up anything interesting to us. We do extensive research across every sector our clients are in to see how new and existing players & technologies are changing the rules of the game for an increasing minority of customers. Our research gives us insights in what the future may look like and how we can guide our clients towards a strong role in it.
Trendwatching requires creative researching skills, the ability to rapidly process large amounts of data on relevancy and the categorization of a small amount of relevant examples within our framework.
2. Making presentations
Sometimes for ourselves, sometimes to support other team members. We keep developing our style so we can use pretty slides to tell powerful stories.
Check out our SlideShare to see some of our work!
3. Giving presentations
One of the great things about our company is that you get the liberty to claim your own field of expertise within the digital world and give your own presentations about it.
I’m personally a speaker on Bitcoin and the Blockchain, something I’ve been fascinated about for 3 years, which is now coming in handy for our financial clients.
Besides our everyday workshops, we speak for all kinds of audiences at events, in-house presentations… on everything digital, social…
Pretty self-explanatory. We love talking to new people, understanding the challenges they have to deal with and the things they’re working on. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
While a lot of our clients come to us due to seeing our presentations or word of mouth, we do also need to approach some of them ourselves to discuss potential projects and the steps involved. It’s important for us to understand our clients’ exact problem or need so we can produce a useful and satisfactory result.
Besides the occasional interviews by the media, we have to interview our clients as well. To guide them on their Digital Transformation journey, we need to understand their situation today from different perspectives. This way we can go beyond just showing them the ideal situation and give them a practical roadmap with their business reality of today in mind.
7. Moderating workshops
In my eyes this one requires the most skill.
Imagine standing at the head of a table full of 5–15 important people that have puzzled with their agendas to sit together about the future of their company, with high expectations of the results you will deliver that day. You may still be a stranger to them, there’s sometimes egos involved and they’re not always digital-savvy. It’s a sensitive situation and you have to try to lead the discussions towards useful outcomes. You can’t waste too much time on trivial discussions and you have to listen to and process every single word that is said for 2–8 hours. Finally you need to land the discussions in a (near) consensus and an outcome that impresses the client and helps them deal with their challenges.
No matter how experienced you are, this is tough.
8. Taking notes
We often jokingly refer to this as “monkey-work”, but it’s essential. It’s not possible for the workshop lead to capture and remember every important detail during the entire workshop and then also create a strategic report of it. Another consultant needs to support them by taking notes of the important stuff.
Additionally, they are the second brain to give extra input and fill in the things the lead consultant will inevitably miss.
9. Making reports
After the 2–8 hour workshop, everything that was discussed needs to land in a short report that gives people a clear overview of what needs to be done. Every word matters here as we strive to keep them as short as possible. You can’t miss anything important and both the people in the workshop and anyone else that may end up reading it needs to fully understand all of it and be able to start doing things after reading it.
Starting the project with grand ambitions is easy, producing useful results is the real challenge. Since making the reports is tricky, we often walk our clients through the results to discuss if the outcome is as expected. We make changes where needed and look into potential next steps in our collaboration.
The inevitable hours on the road (and in the air) to visit our clients, like Dado who was in Dubai this week.
We can’t wait for self-driving cars to become mainstream…
In reality there’s a lot more than these 11 things, like managing our teamwork, marketing, website, maintaining our customer database… but I’ll spare you the details 🙂
I hope this gave you more insight in what we do on a daily basis!