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
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 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

       E               Relationship
       N                Tension                          Task
       S                                                Tension

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.


     -   interact with/involve the client in the project tasks (beginning with building the
     -   use relating skills to build trust and leadership

     -   be open and honest about yourself---reveal yourself,
         (the more you self-disclose, the more the client will self-disclose)

     -   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

     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?
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…
     -   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
         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

     -  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,
     - begin to specify the outcomes or results that s/he expects from the project, and
        identify the criteria that must be met in order for a recommendation to be
        and implemented
     - be made aware of the costs involved
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
                                                                                         
                                                                                       
                                                                                         
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.

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
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.

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).

      - 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

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

                What is the nature of the gap?
                   Is there a gap (and how big is it) between the current and desired

                What forces are pushing in the direction of the desired state,
                 and what forces are blocking progress?

                                                        AND UNDERSTOOD

              clear               unclear        certainty            uncertainty
             specific              vague       cause & effect         randomness
                                                predictable          unpredictable


1. Simple Problem       - both the present and desired situations are known and can be well
                        - 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

4. Messy Problems       - networks of interconnected problems
                        - solving one problem in isolation may cause several more
                        - 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

                          - 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,
                                           doubts, worries, etc.
                  Ex:     Do you have any theories about why it happened at that
                          specific time?
                          Why has this been going on?

                  - 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
                      -                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

               - 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)

      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.


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
   for your own further data collection.

   This method is used to collect information about a population in ways that provide
   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

   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

   This method is intended to reflect larger populations and to permit comparisons of key
   differences among groups, communities, organizations, etc., but cases are not

       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

   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
      useful data are primarily qualitative or are only quantifiable in a limited way
      cost and expediency consideration preclude the use of alternatives
   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       - Business Opportunities Sourcing
                                     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
                                                           - 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      - Canadian Census Statistics: industry, trade,
                                  1-800-263-1136             Economic
                                                           - Population statistics: demography,

 Department of Finance - NS economic indicators, trends, facts
                                statisti/INDEX.HTM      - Business statistics
                                      424-5691          - Demographic information

        Strategis      - 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)
      GD Sourcing      - 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      - International market information
   & International Trade                                     - Foreign and domestic investment opportunities
                                                               and policies
                                                             - WIN (World Information Network for Exports)

       Yellow Pages              -Telephone listings for specific business
                                                              types in specified provinces, cities, and
                                                              towns across Canada

     Human Resources                http://www.hrdc-       - Labour market information/trends, financial
   Development Canada            common/home.shtml/          assistance/resources, market and industry
                                  Http://www.ns.hrdc-        information, business links, employment
                                  Http://www.ns.hrdc-        programs and services, partnership
                                english/service/ Information

   ACSBE Web Bookshelf - Small business guide and directories: getting
                                %20Self%20Employment/ started, marketing, finances, provincial info.,
                                 Information%20Sources/ family businesses, small business centres
                           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

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

*Only after you have determined that more research is necessary do you go ahead
 your own primary research.

Then…choose the survey method that accomplishes your goal:

              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


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:

             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
                                                                   does not arrive on Monday

     NEWSPAPERS/NEWSLETTERS                 Varies               Varies (usually weekend

       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
                            - 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
                            - 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,
                                                            - interviewer may influence

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
                            - good response rate
                            - relatively low cost per
       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-
                                                                 - 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


     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

     1.   Two-choice
     2.   Multiple-choice
     3.   Ranking
     4.   Open-ended

     1) Two-Choice:
        Two-choice questions give the respondent an either/or selection.
             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.
             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.

               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
         from the other three question types. They are generally used to get qualitative
         whereas the other three types usually yield quantitative data. Open-ended
         are often used to elicit detail about a previous two-choice, multiple-choice, or

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.

       (a) An introduction
       (b) Keying

       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.

    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).

    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.

    -   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
    -   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
    -   analyze the results afterward

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.

       -     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)


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

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
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?



            Total “Yes”:
             Total “No”:
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.

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
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.

To determine the meaning of your charted responses, keep the following four things in
   (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
          working on
       4. an awareness of the factors that are pushing towards the desired state and
          those that
          are blocking progress
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
                                    - 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?
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
 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…?
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
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

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)

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…

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.

        - 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

       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.

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
        -   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…


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

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

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
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.

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?

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.

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.

To top