Management consultants are professional tasked to help organizations improve their performance, mainly through analysis of the present state of problems and develop plans for improvements. These problems span across multiple industries, which makes them each unique. So, what do management consultants do to solve them?
Management consultants normally follow a set of frameworks when approaching a situation. These frameworks promote a structured thought-process in understanding the problem and are designed to be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE in management consulting speak). But even the best consultants must often step out of these frameworks, and get creative with underlying concepts of problem, client and industry.
Avenues for creativity in management consulting stem from retaining the core concepts of a previous client engagement or situation, and the ability to transfer them to the present problem effectively. This does not mean reusing or recycling a solution, but the ability to see convergence in problem of diverse fields, and then using fundamental principles to apply in present scenario. Individuals who can do this are called expert generalists, and their core competence lies in gaining deep knowledge of principles in one field and applying it in another.
The most famous expert generalist of the current generation, Elon Musk attributes his success to the use of first principle thinking - a theory from applied physics. He claims that the theory has played a vital role in success of his ventures across varied industries – automobiles, space transport and travel, renewable energy, transport and Artificial Intelligence – something that management consultants aspire.
Management consulting aspirants work on case studies which simulate business scenarios with data and information to arrive at a potential solution. To crack a consulting case interview, it is advised to practice these cases across industries, and with different mock interviewers to prepare for all potential questions in an actual interview. However, it is not easy to come across unique and new case studies to aid in this process, and the analysis of presented solution becomes dependant on the skill of the interviewer.
In my quest to prepare for case interviews, I used the skill development platform MondayMorning. MondayMorning offers multiple test packages in diverse areas like Logistics, Pharma and Healthcare, IoT, Finance, Renewable Energy and Media, using case studies that require deep understanding of the topic from given information to attempt the subjective and objective questions.
What I loved was that the process is designed to include key factors like Structured Thinking, Quantitative Ability, Business Concepts, Creativity and Industry Awareness, in the Q&A process. This gives a fair and objective analysis of performance and avoids subconscious bias from the interviewer or the candidate to cover the entire spectrum of these key factors. Working on 14 such packages in a short span also gave me exposure to as many as 7 to 8 diverse industries, much like how a consultant gains experience of working in multiple industries within few years.
These case studies varied in the problem solved and the required approach – from market entry decision, to new product launch, channel modification, cost-benefit analysis, production strategy to name few.
In a consulting engagement, one gets to influence decision-making for client, in the assigned/discussed subject and context. This is a challenging, but rewarding experience, and involves initiating, designing, and sometimes executing the solution that will create positive value for the client, and potentially even leave a mark on the industry. I am very impressed with newly-launched Travel and Logistics package in this regard. It is different from the other packages in how interactive it is and manages to actively engage the test taker. This realistic emulation of a business case interview on MondayMorning platform is useful for professionals keen on initiating a career in management consulting and are looking for training or assessment material for this, and also for consulting professionals looking to sharpen their skills and self-awareness.