Evocative vs. Prescriptive Consulting

girl watering a treeAwhile back I took a training course on staff consulting that influences my practice to this day.

Traditionally, a consultant’s job was perceived as “to tell people what to do and where to go.” The client’s job was to pay the consultant (humor intended there but not much—consulting is a profession after all).

In the course I gained an expanded perspective. Including…

Measures of successful consulting engagements include
1) Does your client follow your counsel?, and
2) Does following your counsel materially help them?

I learned to distinguish between
Evocative consulting (ask questions), and
Prescriptive (give direction) consulting.

Effective consultants do both. They evoke by asking questions not only to learn the data, but to bring forth clarity in both client and consultant, on what is really wanted and what the priorities are and are not. They prescribe not only based on prior knowledge and connections, but their expanded sense of the client and what is fitting, immediate, and practical as next steps for their client to pursue.

At each and every meeting, and between meetings in dynamic circumstances, effective consultants proactively check in with their client regarding new events that affect the project at hand.

Image courtesy: Duct Tape Marketing

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