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WHAT MAKES UP THE CONSULTING PROCESS? The process of consulting is the how of consultation. Consultants can use the same basic process, regardless of the specialized field in which he or she may be consulting or the subject matter. The six fundamental phases of this process are: Phase 1: Making First Contact/Entry This is the first contact with the client. You are identifying who the client is and what motivation there is to bring about change. You are also exploring the potential for working together. Phase 2: Establishing the Relationship This step includes specifying the desired outcomes, deciding who is going to do what, agreeing on style, costs, timing and accountability. Phase 3: Problem Finding This is the data gathering and data analysis stage. Here you find out what is, what should be, what the gap is, and whether or not it is worth working on. Phase 4: Solution Finding At this stage, the client is given assistance in specifying what it is he wants and when he wants it. Phase 5: Planning the Work/Working the Plan At this step the work is planned in terms of who will do what, when, where, how and with what resources. The plan is then carried out. Phase 6: Evaluation/Termination The client and the consultant look back over the project and their relationship at this step. The consultant then withdraws and terminates the consulting relationship. PHASE 1: MAKING FIRST CONTACT/ENTRY This is where the initial contact is made between the consultant and the client. This is a critical stage in which the client and consultant establish and verbalize expectations of the other. At this first meeting of both parties, the following should be discussed: - the nature of the overall project - parameters and constraints - available resources - the client’s and the consultant’s desired results - background information relative to the client’s organization - general ground rules concerning confidentiality RELATIONSHIP TENSION Relationship tension is the tension that exists between people when they first meet. It can prevent the consultant from directing the client’s time and energy toward the project to be accomplished. The consultant’s objective during this early stage of the consulting process is to reduce relationship tension so that the client is comfortable focusing on the task of problem finding and solving. Relationship tension usually starts out high and generally diminishes as the process evolves. Task Tension is the opposite of relationship tension. It is a positive development and facilitates problem solving and task accomplishment. As illustrated below, when relationship tension is high, task tension is low. The graph also shows that relationship tension will naturally decrease over time. As you spend more time with the client, you become more comfortable with each other and are able to work together towards task accomplishment. THE TENSION/TIME CONNECTION T E Relationship N Tension Task S Tension I O N TIME In order to recognize whether or not the client is experiencing high relationship tension, close attention should be given to your client’s body language, tone, and choice of words to determine if s/he is exhibiting defensive behaviour. In order to reduce any relationship tension, you must build trust—make the client feel comfortable with you and the way you work. It is important to remember at this stage that the client may be sensitive to some of the issues being discussed about his/her organization. There may be strong emotional elements in the thinking patterns of the client that will result in defensive behaviour. Such behaviour must be met with respect— it is extremely important that you are sensitive to the feelings and personal needs of the client in order to establish trust in the relationship. BUILDING TRUST INTERACT AROUND A TASK: - interact with/involve the client in the project tasks (beginning with building the relationship) - use relating skills to build trust and leadership BE WILLING TO SELF-DISCLOSE: - be open and honest about yourself---reveal yourself, (the more you self-disclose, the more the client will self-disclose) ANSWER THE UNASKED QUESTIONS: - the client may have questions about you, your approach to work, your experience, your competence etc. that s/he does not voice - be prepared for such questions and answer them even if they are not asked Client questions at this stage can be categorized as follows: PROPRIETY – your consulting etiquette/conduct Do you act, talk, and look like a consultant? Will you respect the client and his/her organization? SO…meet the client’s expectations by dressing, speaking, and behaving appropriately. COMMONALITY – the degree to which you (the consultant) and the client have common qualities Are you (the consultant) at all like the client? Do you have anything in common with the client? Do you have the same interests, attitudes, background, etc. as the client? SO…talk to the client about any ideas, experiences, interests and opinions you share. COMPETENCE – your qualifications/ability to do the consulting project Do you understand the client’s operation and situation/problem? Are you open to listen to what the client has to say? Can you really help the client? SO…tell your client a bit about yourself, your education, and any related experience that you may have. INTENT – your motivation for entering into the relationship with the client Are your motives compatible with the client’s needs? What is your attitude going to be? Will you be easy to work with? Are you working for the client or your own self-interest? SO…explain why you are doing the project, what the client’s role is in the process, how it will benefit you and your client, how much time you wish to put into the project, etc. ALSO…Empathize with the client. Imagine yourself in the client’s position. What worries, concerns or questions might he or she have? PHASE 2: ESTABLISHING THE RELATIONSHIP The objective of this phase of the consulting process is to create a win-win situation for both parties—you, the consultant, and the client. In order to establish a win-win relationship, both parties must clarify their goals, sort out expectations and contributions, and affirm and record (in a written contract) a mutual agreement. During this phase… THE CONSULTANT SHOULD: - consider what s/he can contribute to the consulting relationship (i.e. know- how, time, results) and what s/he hopes to get in return - be prepared as s/he enters the consulting relationship to clearly, fairly, and honestly state what you will give and what you expect in return - anticipate the goals, needs, and expectations of the client - be open and direct when explaining costs and identifying the resources the client must contribute to the project - empathize with the client in addressing his/her concerns at this stage - identify the source(s) of any conflict that may arise and then deal with the source rather than the symptoms - prepare a written contract to confirm the agreed upon goals of the client and the consultant(s) - maintain frequent contact with the client after the contract is negotiated - identify the key decision criteria that are essential for analyzing possible alternatives THE CLIENT SHOULD: - identify what specific knowledge, expertise, qualities (accountability, performance, feedback) s/he expects from the consultant - consider what s/he is prepared to contribute (i.e. in terms of time, effort, money) - begin to specify the outcomes or results that s/he expects from the project, and to identify the criteria that must be met in order for a recommendation to be identified and implemented - be made aware of the costs involved KEY DECISION CRITERIA A critical part of feasibility and recommendation reports is the discussion of the requirements you will use to reach the final decision or recommendation. Imagine that you are trying to recommend a specific laptop computer for use by employees. There are likely to be requirements concerning size, cost, hard-disk storage, display quality, durability, and battery function. "KEY" Serving as an essential component; the most important aspect; "a cardinal rule"; the central cause of the problem; "the operative word"; something crucial for explaining. "DECISION" The act of settling or terminating by giving judgement on the matter at issue; an account or report of a conclusion, a position, opinion or judgement reached after careful consideration. "CRITERIA" A means or standard for judging; any approved or established rule, test or guideline by which facts, principles, opinions, and conduct are tried in forming a correct judgement respecting them. Although we may not realize it, we consider key decision criteria in every decision we make in our everyday lives. For example, when choosing an apartment in Wolfville while you are attending school, you consider several factors before committing to a specific apartment. You will consider the key decision criteria that will enable you to make the best choice. This could include the cost of the apartment per month (you cannot live somewhere that your budget does not allow for), location (this may differ depending on if you own a car, where the majority of your classes are, etc.), and size (you may specifically be looking for a one-bedroom apartment). As you can see, key decision criteria are the essential points you consider in making any decision. They cannot be compromised; therefore decisions must be made around them (not the other way around!). Requirements can be defined in several basic ways: 1. Numerical values: Many requirements are stated as maximum or minimum numerical values. For example, there may be a cost requirement--the laptop should cost no more than $900. 2. Yes/No values: Some requirements are simply a yes-no question. Does the laptop come equipped with a modem? 3. Ratings values: In some cases, key considerations cannot be handled either with numerical values or yes/no values. For example, we might want a laptop that has an ease-of-use rating of at least "good" by some nationally accepted ratings group. Or we may have to assign a rating ourselves. Key decision criteria are the requirements that are absolutely essential for the successful implementation of the final recommendation. These could be things that must occur, that must be maintained, that must be avoided, or must be achieved to implement an alternative or to solve a problem. Key decision criteria must either be directly measurable ($2 million in sales per year), or a non- measurable event that must be implemented (maintain quality). If an alternative does not fit with the key decision criteria you identify, then that alternative is not viable. For example, if you discover a key decision criterion of your client is to keep his/her debt-to- asset ratio at 2:1, it could be said that an alternative is viable if it gives a return of 3:1. Key decision criteria must then be used as a basis to evaluate the alternatives you will lay out in a latter phase of the consulting process (Phase 4). You must analyze the alternatives against each of the key decision criteria to come up with a viable (or the most appropriate) recommendation. KDC 1 KDC 2 KDC 3 KDC 4 TOTAL Alternative 1 Alternative 2 Alternative 3 From this simplified table, we can see that Alternative 2 would be the best recommendation for the client because it satisfies the most key decision criteria. This table is much harder to complete in reality because some alternatives will not give a yes or no answer. However, this template should be taken into consideration later in the consulting process when a recommendation must be made. DISCUSSION AND COMPARISON OF KEY DECISION CRITERIA: The key decision criteria component of your project should also discuss the importance of the individual criteria in relation to each other. Picture the typical situation where there is no one alternative best in all categories of comparison (or when no one alternative is shown to be the best from the above chart). One option is cheaper; another has more functions; one has better ease-of-use ratings; another is known to be more durable. Devise a method by which you can pick a "winner" from a situation where there is no clear winner. In this case, it is extremely useful to rate the key decision criteria in order of importance. What criteria cannot be compromised? What can? Is it more important to be less expensive or to be more durable, etc.? In addition, it is important that you explain how you narrowed the field of criteria down to the ones you will use when evaluating your alternatives. Often, this follows right after the discussion and explanation of each key decision criterion you have chosen. The basic requirements may well narrow the field down for you. However, there may be other considerations that disqualify other options - explain these as well (money, time, ease of implementation, expertise, etc.). Examples of common key decision criteria: Quantitative Qualitative Profit Competitive advantage Cost Customer satisfaction ROI/ROA/ROE Employee morale Market share Ease of implementation Capacity requirements Synergy Productivity Ethics Staff turnover Flexibility Time to implement Safety Growth Visual appeal Delivery time Obsolescence Risk Cultural sensitivity Cash flow considerations Motivation Quality Goodwill Inventory turnover Corporate image PHASE 3: PROBLEM FINDING This is the data gathering and data analysis stage where the client’s problem (or opportunity) is diagnosed. Here you find out what is, what should be, what the gap is, and decide whether it is worth working on. WHAT IS A PROBLEM ? The problem is the difference between what the client has and what the client wants. It is the gap between what is (the current situation) and what should be (the desired situation). THE CLIENT AND THE PROBLEM: S/HE MAY… - not have a clear idea of what the problem is - understand the problem but may not be confident that the consultant understands the problem - may not be confident that the consultant understands enough about him/her and his/her organization to obtain a good understanding of the problem DEFINING THE PROBLEM: The following four questions must be asked: What is the current situation? What is the client’s present situation? How do things presently work? What is the desired situation? What does the client want to see happening with(in) his/her organization? What is the nature of the gap? Is there a gap (and how big is it) between the current and desired situation? What forces are pushing in the direction of the desired state, and what forces are blocking progress? CLASSIFYING PROBLEMS BASED ON THE PROBLEM DIMENSION AND THE SOLUTION DIMENSION THE DEGREE TO WHICH THE THE DEGREE TO WHICH THE PROBLEM IS UNDERSTOOD THE SOLUTION IS KNOWN AND UNDERSTOOD clear unclear certainty uncertainty specific vague cause & effect randomness predictable unpredictable PROBLEM CATEGORIES 1. Simple Problem - both the present and desired situations are known and can be well defined - the actions for closing the gap are obvious and straightforward - relatively easy to define using facts, figures, and objective data 2. Hidden Problem - problems are difficult to define - but there are (often an overabundance of) obvious solutions 3. Hidden Solution - problems can be defined by facts and figures - cause and effect relationships are difficult to deduce - it is not known if proposed solutions will produce the desired outcome 4. Messy Problems - networks of interconnected problems - solving one problem in isolation may cause several more problems - actions taken may have unpredictable outcomes Collecting Data for Problem Finding The consultant needs valid data in order to discover actual organizational problems. There are a number of ways to collect data for identifying problems. For example, you can collect data via interviews, surveys, research of past and present organizational practices, direct observation, etc. DATA COLLECTION SKILLS (1) QUESTIONING - ask a lot of questions to find out about the present and desired situations, and the gap separating the two Types of Questions: a) CLOSED Questions - to gain specific information in order to isolate or clarify the problem and its causes - usually answered with yes or no, or short facts Ex: When did this start happening? Who was involved? b) OPEN Questions - solicit a lot of information - enable you to expand on the subject and conversation - invite expression of relevant beliefs and feelings Ex: Can you explain how that happened? What is your opinion regarding the cause of the problem? c) FACT-FINDING Questions - answerable with verifiable, objective data - uncover relevant, factual information relating to the client and his/her situation Ex: Who was involved? What time did it happen? d) FEELING-FINDING Questions - uncover subjective information - delve into personal emotions, feelings, opinions, doubts, worries, etc. Ex: Do you have any theories about why it happened at that specific time? Why has this been going on? (2) LISTENING - devote 100% of your attention to the speaker - make brief written or mental notes - provide feedback to the speaker - focus on the central idea of the message and try to distinguish what is important from what is not - ask a lot of questions - pay attention to body language and tone of voice (3) DIVERGENT THINKING - unconventional thinking - not evaluative or logical - reaching for radical, impossible ideas - using all of your senses in thought - helps to define the problem by creating many problem statements from which to create an accurate definition of the real problem (4) USING SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRES FOR PROBLEM FINDING - used when problem finding involves large numbers of people as a substitute for personal contact - data that is collected through the survey can be fed back to the people who generated it to help them define the problem (survey feedback approach) So… Think you have found the problem? – make sure you understand the problem – convince the client that you understand the problem from the client’s point of view Then… summarize your understanding of the problem and achieve confirmation from the client to ensure that you will both be working toward solving the same problem. GENERAL DATA COLLECTION APPROACHES Remember to select methods of data collection that are appropriate to your situation and the purpose of your consultation. 1) SECONDARY DATA (i.e. Statistics Canada Reports) This method makes use of existing data that were collected for other purposes as the basis for new analysis. It is often useful to analyze such available data to provide a base and direction for your own further data collection. 2) PRIMARY DATA i) REPRESENTATIVE METHOD This method is used to collect information about a population in ways that provide precise estimates of the characteristics of the population with known likelihood of error (i.e. surveys). This is often referred to as the scientific or statistical method of data collection. Ideal Conditions for Use of the Representative Method: - statistically accurate estimates of population characteristics are needed - random sampling is possible - data can be collected through specific survey questions administered in diverse settings - secondary analysis or multiple rounds of data collection are anticipated ii) INTERMEDIATE METHOD This method is intended to reflect larger populations and to permit comparisons of key differences among groups, communities, organizations, etc., but cases are not randomly selected. Ideal Conditions for Use of the Intermediate Method: - statistical representativeness is unnecessary, although a rough indication of the larger population characteristics may be desirable - comparisons among major groups are sufficient to meet information needs - a limited budget precludes statistically representative surveys or censuses - limited organization capabilities or adverse local conditions make intermediate methods more practical iii) CASE STUDY METHOD The case study method is used to collect detailed, often descriptive (qualitative) data from a limited number of groups. Examples include focus groups or personal interviews. Ideal Conditions for Use of the Case Study Method: statistically representative data are unnecessary, difficult, or impossible to collect information is needed on a relatively small, homogeneous population or on identifiable groups within a larger, heterogeneous population intensive information is needed on a topic rather than extensive data on a population useful data are primarily qualitative or are only quantifiable in a limited way cost and expediency consideration preclude the use of alternatives SECONDARY DATA COLLECTION METHODS There are a number of sources of secondary data to consider. The following pages contain lists of various local and regional resources that are available to you. Additional sources of secondary data include local libraries, regional development agencies, local media, and trade association offices. Name Website & Phone Information Access Nova Scotia http://www.gov.ns.ca/ - Business Opportunities Sourcing Services: bacs/acns/ lists Canadian manufacturers , their 1-800-225-8227 products and technical services to help (902) 679-6170 people find suppliers; provides market Information and helps to identify market Opportunities - Department of Foreign Affairs Information: International business developments and markets for small businesses - NS public tenders notices - Information on business related government financial assistance programs - Federal, provincial, municipal information, forms/applications, toll free number directory Statistics Canada http://www.statcan.ca/ - Canadian Census Statistics: industry, trade, 1-800-263-1136 Economic - Population statistics: demography, Geography Department of Finance http://www.gov.ns.ca/fina/ - NS economic indicators, trends, facts statisti/INDEX.HTM - Business statistics 424-5691 - Demographic information Strategis http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/ - Industry Canada's industry overview - Economic research and statistics - Provincial and municipal business information NS Economic Development (902) 424-5014 - Statistical info. pertaining to tourist traffic in NS & Tourism Nova Scotia (902) 424-4264 (visitor volume - seasonality, accommodations, 1-800-313-4447 visitor origin, mode of travel, length of stay) http://gov.ns.ca/ecor/ Index.htm GD Sourcing http://www.gdsourcing.co - Canadian Government Data Sourcing Research and Retrieval m/ - Market and industry data from government and non-government statistics - A reference point for other Canadian Statistics Department of Foreign Affairs www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca - International market information & International Trade - Foreign and domestic investment opportunities and policies - WIN (World Information Network for Exports) Yellow Pages www.yellowpages.ca -Telephone listings for specific business types in specified provinces, cities, and towns across Canada Human Resources http://www.hrdc- - Labour market information/trends, financial drhc.gc.ca/ Development Canada common/home.shtml/ assistance/resources, market and industry Http://www.ns.hrdc- information, business links, employment drhc.gc.ca/ Http://www.ns.hrdc- programs and services, partnership drhc.gc.ca/ english/service/service.ht Information m ACSBE Web Bookshelf http://acsbe.acadiau.ca/Ex - Small business guide and directories: getting plore %20Self%20Employment/ started, marketing, finances, provincial info., Information%20Sources/ family businesses, small business centres Web% 20Bookshelf.htm TOWN OFFICE TELEPHONE Annapolis Royal 532-2043 Berwick 538-8068 Bridgetown 665-4637 Bridgewater 543-4651 Canning 582-3768 Greenwood 765-8788 Hantsport 684-3211 Kentville 679-2500 Kingston 765-2800 Lawrencetown 584-3082 Lunenburg 634-4416 Mahone Bay 624-8327 Middleton 825-4841 New Minas 681-6972 Port Williams 542-4411 Windsor 798-2275 Wolfville 542-5767 PRIMARY DATA COLLECTION METHODS Before you begin to develop and administer surveys, focus groups, etc., it is important that you acknowledge that a number of primary data sources are already available to you. Most of this data is in your client’s possession, (i.e. information from receipts, invoices, order forms, annual reports, customer service inquiries, customer complaints, the salespeople, and even in the client’s general knowledge of his or her day-to-day business operations). *Only after you have determined that more research is necessary do you go ahead with your own primary research. Then…choose the survey method that accomplishes your goal: THE MOST COMMON PRIMARY RESEARCH SURVEYING TECHNIQUES: (A) POLLS/QUESTIONNAIRES i) by telephone ii) in person (i.e. at a shopping mall, at your client’s business) iii) direct mail iv) in an newspaper or newsletter (B) FOCUS GROUPS (C) PRODUCT OR SERVICE SAMPLING Criteria for Selection of Survey Method: - COMPLEXITY - REQUIRED AMOUNT OF DATA - DESIRED ACCURACY - SAMPLE CONTROL - TIME REQUIREMENTS - ACCEPTABLE LEVEL OF RESPONSE When surveying, it is imoprtant to have an appropriate sample size. To help you to calculate sample size, go to: http://www.chartwellsystems.com/sscalc.htm. (A) POLLS AND QUESTIONNAIRES METHOD MAXIMUM TIME BEST TIME OF DAY TELEPHONE INTERVIEW 15 MINUTES For people at home: - evening hours after dinner For people at work: - office hours (NOT Monday morning or Friday afternoon) PERSONAL INTERVIEW UP TO ONE HOUR - Evening hours after dinner AT RESPONDENT’S HOME - Saturdays - By appointment INTERCEPT (PERSONAL) 5 to 15 minutes - Daytime hours INTERVIEW (varies by location) - Evenings after dinner (mall) AT A CENTRAL LOCATION - Sundays (mall) (i.e. at a shopping mall, - When people are not school) hurried, relaxed PERSONAL INTERVIEW AT Depends on the nature of the - Whenever customers or CLIENT’S BUSINESS business clients are least hurried DIRECT MAIL 5 to 15 minutes - Try to time it so that the mail-out does not arrive on Monday or Wednesday NEWSPAPERS/NEWSLETTERS Varies Varies (usually weekend editions) ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF POLLS/QUESTIONNAIRES Method Advantages Disadvantages - fast - consumers are weary of TELEPHONE INTERVIEW - few people required tele- - good response rate marketing and surveying - can control sample size and - cannot show make- product/packaging up - can ask complex questions - little influence on subject PERSONAL INTERVIEW - able to show product or - highest cost per interview AT RESPONDENT’S HOME service - many people required (staff) - can ask largest number of - a lot of time required questions - difficult to find people at per respondent home - can ask complex questions - interviewer may personally and influence the respondent probe for maximum detail - able to control sample make-up - relaxed atmosphere - good response rate - able to show product or INTERCEPT (PERSONAL) service INTERVIEW - can visually identify some - high cost AT A CENTRAL LOCATION demographic characteristics - interrupting busy people (i.e. at a shopping mall, - can ask relatively complex - difficult to control make-up of school) questions the - good response rate sample - inability to ask complex, probing questions - interviewer may influence respondent PERSONAL INTERVIEW AT - can show product or service - interrupting busy people CLIENT’S BUSINESS - able to control makeup of - interviewer may influence sample subject - can ask relatively complex questions - good response rate - relatively low cost per interview DIRECT MAIL - very wide sample - slow getting all responses distribution possible back - can show photos of product - no complex questions - no interviewer influence possible - same cost per interview as - mailing lists may be phoning outdated - people can respond when - impossible to control sample not hurried make- up - respondents are most likely to be those with vested interests no complex NEWSPAPERS/NEWSLETTERS questions/explanations - same as direct mail except possible for - cannot control sample variation in sample make-up distribution based - do not know who is actually on circulation of publication responding - respondents may have vested interests WRITING A QUESTIONNAIRE THE 3 ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL QUESTIONNAIRE: 1. Make it the right length. 2. Make sure the questions are clear and unambiguous. 3. Make sure the questions are not leading. 1) Make it the right length: The length of your questionnaire depends largely on the place you administer it and the method by which you administer it. Begin by writing out all of the questions you would like to ask, then begin eliminating them, question by question until you have reached a compromise--the maximum number of questions you can ask in the maximum amount of time your chosen method will allow. Before administering the questionnaire to your survey group, test it on a couple of members of your target audience. Administer it to them exactly as it is meant to be done, (by phone or in person, self-administered or with an interviewer). This will help to gauge the time it takes and will also help you clear up any hard to understand or misleading questions. 2) Make sure the questions are clear and unambiguous: - keep questions short and easy to understand - ask for only one piece of information in each question - keep the target audience in mind (i.e. how educated they are, how familiar they are with your client’s product or service, etc.) - always double check to make sure the meaning of the question is clear - give enough instructions to tell the respondent exactly how to respond 3) Make sure the questions are not leading: It is very important to ask questions in such a way that you get the respondent’s true views, not the answers you want to hear. A number of factors can influence the person completing the survey, such as the interviewer’s attitude or tone, or the setting. 4 TYPES OF QUESTIONS: 1. Two-choice 2. Multiple-choice 3. Ranking 4. Open-ended 1) Two-Choice: Two-choice questions give the respondent an either/or selection. Example: Do you drink milk? Yes No Do prefer this item in Black Grey (Please check one) 2) Multiple-Choice: Multiple-choice questions allow the respondent to choose one or more possibilities from a list. When using multiple-choice, it’s important to include as many options as you can—making sure not to leave out any major ones. 3) Ranking: The most common form of ranking question is one that gives respondents a scale on which to evaluate a single item. Example: How would you rate the services you received from your waiter? (Please circle one) Poor Good Excellent 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Other questions ask people to rank a series of items or qualities against other items or qualities. Example: What is most important to you? Please place a 1 beside the most important, a 2 beside the second most important, and a 3 beside the third most important. ____ Taste ____ Speed of Service ____ Price 4) Open-Ended: Open-ended questions are used when you need more information than you can get from the other three question types. They are generally used to get qualitative data, whereas the other three types usually yield quantitative data. Open-ended questions are often used to elicit detail about a previous two-choice, multiple-choice, or ranking question. HOW MANY TYPES OF QUESTIONS SHOULD YOU USE? Any survey longer than five or six questions will probably use several types of questions. Often a response to one question will automatically lead to another type of question. In general, a balanced, informative survey will include several types of questions. OTHER INFORMATION TO INCLUDE IN YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE: (a) An introduction (b) Keying (a) AN INTRODUCTION: Start your questionnaire with a brief written introduction stating the purpose of your survey. You must have a written introduction on any survey sent via direct mail, published in a newspaper or other publication, or placed on a table or counter for customers to fill out. You should even include a written introduction on surveys administered in person to help the interviewer remember to give vital information. In only a few sentences you should try to include who you are (i.e. Acadia Business students), why you are doing the survey (i.e. what the results of the survey will be used for), who you are surveying (i.e. your client’s customers), and a polite request for their participation, followed by a thank you. (b) KEYING: If your survey is being given in more than one location, administered at several different times, or sent to more than one mailing list, you should always put key letters or numbers on the survey indicating which location, time, or list the survey is from. Simply print or hand write a combination of letters and/or numbers at the top or bottom of the form, (i.e. HSC/10/99 meaning Halifax Shopping Centre, October, 1999). (B) FOCUS GROUPS Focus groups produce qualitative data—data that cannot be expressed in numbers. Members of the group are carefully selected, usually to fit the description of your client’s ideal target customer. Focus groups can be used to learn a variety of things. For example, a focus group could review your client’s product(s), advertising, and service(s). A group could also be brought together for input regarding a change in your client’s corporate image, the addition of a new product or service, or during the expansion of the client’s business. A focus group is different than a brainstorming session in that it is designed to discover feelings and perceptions, rather than to elicit ideas. TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE FOCUS GROUPS: - choose a group of 6 to 10 people - set up an audio or video recorder, preferably where it will not be distracting - make everyone comfortable and welcome—let them know their ideas are important - clearly explain what you would like them to discuss—have a loose outline of topics or questions prepared - allow for creative conversation, but make sure the talk doesn’t wander off on unrelated topics for too long - don’t let the easy talkers dominate—draw everyone out - summarize periodically and ask the group to confirm that your summary is correct - analyze the results afterward (C) PRODUCT OR SERVICE SAMPLING Sometimes you will have questions that can only be answered by having people actually try your client’s product or service. For example, “Will this product be acceptable? Will it be easy to understand? Will this service/product have unexpected glitches?” You may often need samples of your client’s product or service to accompany your surveys or focus groups. SAMPLING TIPS: - if you are testing an item that lends itself to comparison, test a sample of your client’s product versus a sample of a competitor’s product—otherwise conduct a single-sample test using your client’s product by itself to get people’s reactions - with comparison sampling, never show the name of either product, (avoid influencing the group) - never show the packaging or advertising of a product unless that is part of what you are testing, (avoid influencing the group) - switch the order in which you give the samples when doing comparisons (i.e. with food products) ANALYZING AND INTERPRETING YOUR DATA Now that you have collected your data, it must be analyzed to determine exactly what it means. This involves the following four steps: 1. Examine the completed forms (i.e. surveys) 2. Tally the responses 3. Chart the responses to each question 4. Determine the meaning of the responses #1) EXAMINING THE COMPLETED FORMS: Go through the completed questionnaires to make sure the responses are useful. In some cases you may be required to edit the responses when, for example, you know what a respondent intended to say, but the wording or handwriting makes it unclear. In other cases you may have to discard some responses or entire forms. If, for instance, someone checked several boxes on a multiple-choice question where they were instructed to check only one, you would have to discard their answer. One bad response does not invalidate the entire questionnaire, however. You need only to discard the entire form when it is clear that the respondent misunderstood or deliberately disregarded most of the instructions. #2) TALLYING THE RESPONSES: Next, you need to record the responses to every question on the questionnaires. This can be done by hand or by computer. If your survey was brief and administered to a small sample, (i.e. 10 questions given to 100 people), you can quite easily tally the responses by hand. Ex. Question 1: Have you ever shopped at Zellers? Yes No Total “Yes”: Total “No”: Total: Otherwise, you can record the data on a computer. Spreadsheet programs (such as Lotus or Excel) are useful because they can tally the responses for you. SPSS is also an excellent program because it is designed not only for recording and tallying results, but also for analysing, correlating, and cross-checking the results. #3) CHARTING THE RESPONSES TO EACH QUESTION: Once you have tallied all of the responses, you should chart or graph the results. Charting makes it easier to read and interpret your data. It makes it easy for you and your client. A simple bar graph is the most readable and versatile method of charting, but other useful charting styles include a curve for charting responses to ranking questions, and pie charts for presenting multiple choice data. #4) DETERMINING THE MEANING OF THE RESPONSES: To determine the meaning of your charted responses, keep the following four things in mind: (A) TRENDS – a significantly high or low response to a given option that will become obvious when you chart your data and break it down by demographic groups (B) SIMILARITIES – trends shared by widely varying demographic groups (C) CONTRADICTIONS – can point to flaws in your survey, product flaws, or differences due to the widely varying make-up of your survey sample (D) ODD GROUPINGS – getting results you did not anticipate or cannot explain A thorough diagnosis of your client’s situation should yield a problem definition with the following elements:: 1. a clear picture of the desired state 2. a clear understanding of what is happening now 3. an assessment of the gap (problem) and a decision of whether or not it is worth working on 4. an awareness of the factors that are pushing towards the desired state and those that are blocking progress PHASE 4: SOLUTION FINDING During this phase of the consulting process, you will provide the client with assistance in specifying what exactly s/he wants and when s/he wants it. Alternative approaches to reaching the client’s desired state are first generated and assessed, and a recommendation is made thereafter. Usually several courses of action are possible, each of which may contribute to the resolution of the problem. In most cases, the issue of selecting the best or optimum solution emerges. When this is likely to be the case, the first contribution that you can make is to help your client in goal setting… Turn a Description of the Desired State into a Goal In order to provide a more solid foundation for assessing alternatives, the desired state should be described more specifically as a goal or objective. A good goal statement should meet the following criteria: - be results oriented - be specific as to accountability - be specific in time - be measurable in terms of quality and quantity factors - be realistic and achievable - be challenging and stretching - include constraints or conditions imposed by money, manpower, resources, etc. - be within the control of the person who is accountable for its achievement Check your data at this stage to ensure that you have what you need in order to begin considering solutions.. What do you know or think you know so far? What don’t you know yet, but would like to know? Why is this a problem for you? What has your client already thought of or tried? GENERATING ALTERNATIVES Use DIVERGENT THINKING to generate innovative and creative solutions using the Spectrum Method: This method states that every contribution has merit to it, however small. The value of an idea can be looked at as a spectrum with some positive aspects and some negative. Our competitive nature tends to steer us, however, to the negative aspects first. This method asks us to focus on what is good and positive about it and then build on that positive aspect and later work to reduce or eliminate any negatives. Ex. “What I like about your suggestion is…” then you can go on to say “I am concerned about this aspect of your suggestion,…How might I build upon your idea and still get around this concern?” Steps in Applying the Spectrum Principle: 1. listen carefully to the contribution of others 2. identify the positive aspects of that contribution and state them clearly as you see them 3. wait for confirmation, elaboration or clarification from the other person 4. if you still have concerns about some aspects of the idea, express them in a way that they can be worked on as in how might we…? TRANSFORM THE Principle for More Innovative/Creative Solutions: T – transform: transform a basic solution into something different by making modifications to any part of it R – reverse: take a standard solution and turn it upside down or backwards to see what emerges A – adapt: take a solution that worked in another environment and adapt it to see if it can be made to fit N – novelize: make the strange familiar by taking an idea from a totally different field and toying with it until it has relevance to the problem that you are dealing with S – substitute: if the problem lies with a particular step in the process (any sub- unit of the larger whole), try to find a substitute for that part that can still allow the whole to achieve its objective F – fuse: take two or more good ideas and force them together—see what emerges O – omit: leave out a traditional step, omit a part of the obvious solution, stop doing something that has already been done R – rearrange: start at the end rather than the beginning M – magnify: make something bigger or make it smaller (i.e. conduct a pilot project in a small area before you try it on a national level) Techniques for Creative Thinking Within Your Group: - building on other’s ideas - crediting others - offering - speculating - approximating - setting goals - praising and reinforcing - deferring judgement - avoiding arguments - confronting conflict - listening - not interrupting EVALUATING ALTERNATIVES After you have generated a list of possible actions, you must begin the task of evaluating those options using the KEY DECISION CRITERIA identified earlier, to serve as a basis for decision-making. Most evaluation approaches involve a comparison of COSTS, IMPACT and FEASIBILITY. If each alternative will produce the same impact, then the one that costs the least and/or is the most feasible is often the likely choice---but not always! *(see page 24) HELPFUL APPROACHES USING KEY DECISION CRITERIA : Decision Trees - These consist of arrow diagrams that trace alternative courses of action to their logical conclusions and consider a variety of what ifs along the way. The costs and benefits associated with each are recorded on the diagram and the decision maker(s) can thereby reduce the alternatives to a manageable decision. Evaluation Matrix - It may be helpful to create a matrix with your alternatives listed on one axis and the various costs and benefits on the other. Allot each factor a number of points (out of ten, for example) based on their relative importance. Then you can rate each alternative, calculate the total points awarded to each alternative, and select the best solution as that which has the most points. And finally… MAKE A CHOICE BETWEEN THE ALTERNATIVES! PHASE 5: PLANNING THE WORK(Action Plan) then WORKING THE PLAN (implementation) This is the point at which you plan the work that will allow you to achieve your (and your client’s) predetermined objective(s), and then work the plan to ensure that what you plan actually occurs. You will develop a work plan which will lay out who will do what, when, where, how and with what resources. The plan will then be carried out and the progress monitored. PLANNING THE WORK - list the tasks involved in carrying out the decision (choice of alternatives) - arrange them in sequence - with more complex tasks, add the estimated time it will take to complete the task, add who will be responsible for completing the task, add information about where the task will be carried out, and with what tools, costs, etc. - then…assess whether or not the plan is feasible and determine how best to schedule each task for optimum efficiency WORKING THE PLAN Once you have a work plan, you and your client can begin to carry it out. This phase of the consulting process is likely to be the most exciting and rewarding for the client. The consultant has a particular responsibility at this time to ensure that information flowing back to the client from the project is timely and specific. MANAGING THE CLIENT’S RESISTANCE TO CHANGE: Some of you may find that your recommendation to the client involves substantial or complex change for the client and his/her organization. When this is the case, you may experience some resistance on the part of the client. By anticipating client resistance and getting a feel for the client’s orientation to change, (i.e. is s/he an innovator, a late adopter, a resistor), there are a number of measures that can be taken to both avoid it, and to deal with it when it arises: - provide your client with opportunities for involvement throughout the project to gain their commitment to the changes - divide the change into a number of smaller steps so that the client (and the people within his/her organization) can focus on one step at a time - give the client advance notice of the possibility of a large or complex change so that s/he has time to adjust his/her thinking - the client should try to minimize or reduce the number of differences introduced by the change and leave as many routines/habits in place as possible - be sensitive to the client’s concerns about the ripples that such change would cause in his/her organization—introduce the change with some flexibility - avoid pretence and false promises—be honest with your client Some other approaches to keep in mind when trying to… GAIN ACCEPTANCE OF CHANGE Change is more acceptable when… What to do…. 1. It is understood than when it is not. 1. Explain reasons, objective(s), and mechanics of the change. 2. It does not seem to threaten security 2. Explain what effects the change than when it does. will have on jobs, the future, and the organizational structure. 3. Those affected have helped create it than 3. Whenever feasible, develop new when it has been externally imposed. methods, procedures, etc. in consultation with those who will be affected. 4. It is implemented after prior change has 4. After each major change, allow for been assimilated than when it is an adjustment period. implemented during the adjustment to other major change. 5. It follows a series of successful change than 5. If several changes over a period of when it follows a series of failures. time have failed to solve a problem, it may be better to avoid any further change for a while. 6. Those affected can see the “gain” factor in 6. Explain the benefits of the change it than when they cannot. such as better distribution of workload, work simplification, more responsibility, better use of talent, more opportunity, training for better jobs, etc. 7. It results from an application of accepted 7. Avoid major change that results policies or principles than when it is from personal likes and dislikes. dictated by personal order. 8. People are new to a job than to people 8. The more old-timers are affected by old on the job. the change, the more important it is to apply other principles listed in this chart. 9. The outcome is reasonably certain than 9. Where the outcome is uncertain, try when it is not. the change on an experimental basis, for a limited period, for a test area, on a selected number of products. 10. The organization has been trained to 10. As the consultant, encourage plan for improvement than if the suggestions, develop a organization is accustomed to the status questioning attitude, quo. establish understanding that failure of some ideas is considered as part of the cost of progress. PHASE 6: EVALUATION AND TERMINATION This is the phase of the consulting process during which the client and the consultant look back over the project and their relationship to try to establish if objectives have been met, what worked well and what did not, and if there are any next steps following termination of the relationship. PROJECT EVALUATION Both you and the client must ask: Where are we now? How does this compare to where we wanted to be when we started out? EVALUATING OF THE CONSULTING RELATIONSHIP Arrange a final meeting with your client to review the final report (which you will have presented to him/her at the previous meeting), and to review what has gone on between you during the consultation, and also to look ahead at where the relationship may have potential to go in the future. Be open and honest about how you perceive your consulting behaviour during the relationship. Encourage your client to give you feedback. Ask him or her to recall actions on your part that were helpful. Get them to be specific in their answers. Also ask your client to recall (in detail) any times when you may not have been so helpful. Open yourself to feedback about your consulting skills. TERMINATING THE CONSULTING RELATIONSHIP The final meeting with your client will also involve terminating the client-consultant relationship. You and your client should reach an agreement to terminate the relationship on a positive basis after you have discussed the project and the relationship in detail. You may also want to leave the door open for further interaction with your client.
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