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Sunday, 19 November 2017


Malcolm Cheshire, a Consulting Practitioner in Human Dynamics & Risk and is CEO of the Consultancy, T H I R D M A R G I N, discusses the art and science of consulting and the difference between a Consultant and a Subject Matter Expert.

Malcolm writes; The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines a Consultant as one who “… provides expert advice, professionally! “. In a Security context, defined by G. Manunta  (1999) as : “ … a function of the presence and interaction of Asset  Protector & Threat within a given situation , and expressed  as : S = F ( A P T ) si “ , a Consultant could be seen as simply a ` Subject Matter Expert `; however, what distinguishes a `Consultant ` from a `Subject Matter Expert ` is his or her ability to develop an effective  ` Relationship ` with a Client and to use this relationship to understand needs and facilitate solutions.

To look more fully at `Relationships` one needs to visit the world of Clinical Practice. Psychologist & Psychotherapist Dr. Carl Rogers (1902 > 1987) asserted that there are 3 components that are `Necessary & Sufficient `for the development of an effective professional relationship:

  • CONGRUENCE; establishing a dialogue with your client that is Two Way Open & Frank!
  • EMPATHY; having regard for both Facts & Feelings!
  • RESPECT; having an Unconditional Positive Regard for the Client!

Within, what I call, a `Consulting Dynamic` there are 4 evolving levels of interaction between Consultant and Client:

  • In a SERVICE based Dynamic, the Consultant provides the Client with INFORMATION, this process is termed TRANSACTIONAL!
  • In a NEEDS based Dynamic, the Consultant provides the Client with SOLUTION, this process is termed TRANSACTIONAL +!
  • In a RELATIONSHIP based Dynamic, the Consultant provides the Client with IDEAS, this process is termed TRANSACTIONAL ++!
  • In a TRUST based Dynamic, there is a high degree of mutual insight & trust. The Relationship becomes a `Safe Haven` for discussing difficult and sensitive issues. This is a truly `TRANSFORMATIONAL` Relationship, where the Consultant has evolved into a `Trusted  Advisor` of which MAISTER GREEN & GALFORD expand upon in their eponymous book of 2000.  

Not all Consultants (or potential Consultants ) will be comfortable with the increased level of intimacy necessary for an effective ` Transformational ` relationship ; however , with appropriate determination +  training and support the end result will be a Consultant / Client Relationship that is more cohesive, more resilient &, ultimately more profitable!

Malcolm Cheshire is a Consulting Practitioner in Human Dynamics & Risk and is CEO of the Consultancy, T H I R D M A R G I N. A Registered Nurse & Clinical Specialist (Mental Health) , he also holds a Postgraduate Degree in Security Management from Loughborough University and is an accredited Business Continuity Specialist. He is a member of the ` Skills for Security – Sector Skills Consultation Group on Security Consulting`.

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