The title is misleading, since every consulting, by definition, should be a working tool i.e. having an applied character. We refer to the theoretical part of consulting in order to distinguish the theory onto which your consultant will base his applied work. It is, roughly, like the necessary explanations you expect from your doctor, prior to the surgery. Although you are neither a surgeon nor can you fully perceive the different scope of his work, you still need some fundamental information on the ‘’why’s’’ and ‘’how’s’’.
This principle is even more justifiable whenever you are about to cooperate with a business consultant, because you do have an exposure in the business environment, so you can quickly and easily understand what will be done. Going back to the example of the surgeon, it is like being a microbiologist who wants to know details from the surgeon who will perform your operation.
A theoretical background should always be the introduction of an applied consulting work. On the other hand, you should never accept just an extended theoretical approach without a transformation of it on your particular business. Let’s think, as an example, the strategic business analysis of a market and of your company. Everything should start from the explanation of the market attractiveness and the company competitiveness. You cannot accept an average evaluation of your company’s attractiveness unless you have first heard how this result will be calculated. The same applies to a mature market because if you are not fully aware of how we evaluate the market attractiveness, it will be vague to refer to its particular properties and understand how you should cope with them.
When we say that a strategic business unit is characterized as a ‘’cash-cow’’ (according to the BCG method) or as a ‘’protect & refocus’’ business (according to the McKINSEY method) we need to say a few words about these methodologies of evaluation, or we will look like new prophets with their own Holy Bible. Consequently, you should be prepared to accept a theoretical introduction before jumping directly into conclusions.
On the other hand, you will spent your money to receive applied information and suggestions on your particular market and your own business plans, so you deserve (and should ask for) specific proposals on actions and measures for exploiting a ‘’cash-cow’’ market and on how you can protect your market share and refocus your sales and marketing activities. This bilateral approach becomes more pronounced especially when the project is also aiming in on-the-job training of your personnel executives. They will not be able to repeat it on their own responsibility unless they will first understand and digest the theory standing behind the methodology and conclusions.
The last, but equally important, reason for inserting a theoretical preface is the necessity for authentication of our consulting work. Our proposals should not be regarded as a Delphi oracle or a religious originated vision that might come true as a miracle. It is a rational result based on the quality of data you will provide us and inserted in the model. If the suggested options are not the preferable ones we can discuss the authenticity and precision of raw data but the evaluation cannot be negotiated. The same applies to the application of the results into your actual daily business. The responsibility of the final results lies to the shoulders of the employees who will implement the suggested tactics.