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Consulting Competencies Circle (CCC)

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Complete Business Frameworks Reference Guide (407-slide PowerPoint presentation). This is a very comprehensive document with over 400+ slides--covering 58 common management consulting frameworks and methodologies (listed below in alphabetical order). A detailed summary is provided for each business framework. The frameworks in this deck span across Corporate Strategy, [read more]

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Each year, a large number of business professionals make the decision to leave their corporate jobs to pursue independent consulting.  To them, a career in independent consulting means having a flexible schedule, being one’s own boss, or a way to realize their real potential.  For some people, independent consulting implies doing what they are truly capable of doing.

Independent consultants provide consulting services on their own, without associating with a consulting firm.  They use their own experience to assist an individual or organization in solving their problems or achieving their objectives more efficiently and effectively.

There could be a number of other reasons why a person would choose to go into independent consulting.

  • Lack of confidence in one’s ability to make a difference in the corporate world.
  • A need to earn more.
  • A feeling of lacking control.
  • Lack of personal development or capabilities enhancement opportunities.
  • A sense of being an insignificant team member.
  • Dismissal or unemployment.
  • An aspiration to commence one’s own business or becoming an entrepreneur.

However, the majority of entrants into independent consulting lack the knowledge and skill sets necessary for success, which is why the failure rate of independent consultants is around 85% within 5 years of starting a business.  Such high failure rates of new entrants in independent consulting warrant reevaluation of the elements necessary for success in the business.

To thrive as an independent consultant, one needs to develop 3 Core Competencies, which constitute the Success Triangle:

  1. Consulting Competencies – these skills help qualify a professional to venture into Entrepreneurship. Essential Consulting skills include a mix of interpersonal skills, Project Management, Data Analysis, Structured & Technical Writing, and Innovation capabilities.
  1. Business Competencies – these skills are critical for starting a career as an independent consultant—e.g., Strategic Development, Financial Planning, Management, Talent Management.
  1. Technical Competencies – these skills are just as important for an independent consultant as the other key competencies—e.g., Business Strategies, Market Research, Competitor Analysis, Strategic Planning, Diagnostics, Risk Analysis and Mitigation.

Hardly ever will a person possess equal proportions of all 3 competencies when commencing independent consulting.  Some professionals have a strong grip on two of these competencies, which compensates for their shortcoming in the third.  For long-term success, each of these three competencies must be considered and excelled at in substantial measures.

The 3 essential competencies are at the heart of the Success and Consulting Triangles.

  • The Success Triangle implies that the three essential competencies—Technical, Consulting, and Business—must be given equal importance.
  • The Consulting Triangle, on the other hand, indicates that consulting is a profession, a process, and a business. Therefore, independent consultants must possess or promptly acquire technical, consulting, and business capabilities.

The Success and Consulting Triangles when combined, assist in mapping the prowess of a consultant in the 3 key domains.  Enclosing the triangles inside a circle helps measure the proficiency of each competency.  This configuration brings about the Consulting Competency Circle.

The Consulting Competencies Circle framework helps gauge a business professional’s readiness for independent consulting.  A scale for each skill set accommodated inside the Consulting Competency Circle facilitates evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a consultant and assists in approximating the proficiency and degree of expertise of that expert in the 3 competency domains.

Interested in learning more about the Consulting and Success Triangles ? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Consulting Competencies Circle (CCC) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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