The potential value will only be transformed into actual value for the client if and to the extent the client is able to accept and internalise the advisor's contribution. To the question, "What value can you deliver to us?", the right answer is often another question back to the client, "How much value are you able and willing to take from me?".
Clients sometimes ask their advisors the question, "What value can you deliver to us?". This is of course a very relevant question. However, I increasingly feel that when it comes to "value creation", it takes two to tango. A consultant may be able to deliver a lot of value (in the form of management insights, market information, strategic recommendations, benchmarks, creative ideas, energy level, etc.),
Let's take a practical example: A client is in the middle of reviewing his organisation's strategy and hires a consultant (me, actually) to challenge him, to give him new ideas and suggestions, to help him think in innovative ways, etc. To what extent, however, will the client be really listening? How open is he to ideas that are indeed challenging his beliefs and thinking patterns? If the client does not listen, does not ask questions, interrupts me as soon as I start talking, and disqualifies my ideas as soon as I express them… Was there a lot of value delivered? No, or hardly. Does it mean that I have no value to deliver? Neither.
Another typical example is change management. Clients hire consultants because they want to change something: their strategy, their organisation, their communication, their visibility, whatever. But at the same time they don't want to change. That's the typical double-bind message "Change me but don't change me" that all professionals with their hands in change management are certainly familiar with. "Change our strategy, but don't change our organisation"; "Improve our governance, but don't make anyone upset"; "Make our organisation more efficient, but don't impose anything to anyone"; "Let's change the way we do things, but let's keep the status quo"; "Challenge me, but don't say anything I don't agree with".
Does that sound familiar? How do you deal with this situation?