- Consulting Overview
- Terry on Being a Management Consultant
Years of his own experience as a teacher, manager, and executive are synthesized and embodied in Terry Busch's no nonsense, practical, often provocative, and always actionable advice and insights. “I believe”, he says,
“we can learn a great deal from the volumes that have been written on how to manage and how to lead. But in the end, there is no substitute for the hard learned lessons of experience regarding what actually works and what does not.”
Successful organizations in Terry's view are generally those with:
- A clear-headed and consistent vision of what they
- A passion for sticking to core strengths;
- An ability to translate abstract ideas into simple, measurable,
- A realistic understanding of what it means and takes
to run and sustain an organization;
- An ability to cultivate the daily behaviors necessary
to unleash and motivate the talent at one’s disposal; Terry calls
it the manager’s magic formula TP + HM = EP © -- talented people,
highly motivated equals excellent performance;
- The strength to admit mistakes and begin anew; and
- An intuitive understanding of when it is time to manage and when it is time to lead.
Since departing the Federal Government in March 2002, Terry has been engaged in a wide range of consulting activities within both the public and private sector. He frequently meets in private sessions with managers and executives, and facilitates collective management events, usually with executive decision makers anxious to improve their overall performance as a team. His topical specialties include:
- Sound management practices;
- Executive team building;
- The art of leadership;
- Organizational dynamics;
- Talent development; and
- Implementing change.
“When asked by others – usually on airplanes – what I do as a management consultant, I usually reply that I am “an outcome facilitator”. I like this formulation precisely because it places the emphasis on what it is that a client actually hopes to achieve with my assistance. It also implies that the outcome and the work to be done must occur within the organizational context, culture, and daily operating realities of the client. I bring neither a rigid framework nor an off-the-shelf methodology that I wish to superimpose on a client’s desired outcome whether it fits or not. Rather I am most comfortable working within the client’s framework, looking for opportunities to contribute my insights where they seem to fit best from the client’s perspective.
Consistent with my practical and realistic bent when it comes to outcomes, I also believe that if you cannot see something then how can you be sure it is there? Consequently, I work closely with all my clients to define desired outcomes in behavioral, observable terms whether it is leading others, building teams, giving feedback, or managing conflict. This is the only way, in my experience, to truly evaluate the effectiveness of the consulting effort itself.
A principle strategy I always employ is to assist my clients in gaining personal insights into their own strengths and weaknesses, and the skill development needs that will help them perform better in their jobs, meet their individual management challenges, and discover the means, potential, and motivation within themselves necessary to succeed. Ideas imposed by outsiders, no matter their experience-base and value, seldom take firm hold. Moreover, when a consultant’s insights meld harmoniously with what a client already knows and believes about himself or herself and their management work, the effect is reinforcing rather than competitive.
I especially enjoy working with my clients in small group settings. The more opportunity the participants have to learn from each other and to practice the skills under discussion, the better. Over the years, I have often lamented the tendency of many managers to go it alone. Perhaps it is that many believe that as managers, they are supposed to have all the answers, or that to ask for another manager’s advice is a sign of weakness. Whatever the cause, it undermines their growth process. Working as a group, individual participants not only get to know each other better but usually also come to realize they have far more in common than many might think.
To further facilitate this process, I often employ – at appropriate
moments – one of a series of management scenarios I
have developed over the years, each describing a typical management
problem or challenge that occurs in almost every workplace. The general
nature of these scenarios allows participants to bring them inside
their own organizational culture, usually beginning with someone
saying: “hey, that happened to me just last week”. I then invite
them to tell their story, ask the group for their comments and insights,
and point out any critical learning points. During this discussion,
I often employ an additional tool I developed called the
"Strategic Triangle”©. The triangle helps focus attention
on three critical elements of problem solving: (1) the piece we control;
(2) the goal we really seek; and (3) the first few sentences of a
critical communication regarding the problem or challenge. These
scenarios and the triangle are a highlight for many of my clients
because they encourage them to talk about something they have actually
done in their own jobs and to assess their own performance.
Beyond the scenarios, I am a big believer in the power of storytelling in general by group participants. An ancient ritual that has sadly been lost in many of today’s organizations, stories are powerful tools for capturing an organization’s culture and for illustrating the best and worst management practices in action. I attempt, whenever possible, to persuade attendees to illustrate their points in a personal story of their own and then invite the larger group to comment on what they have heard and add their insights to the mix.
Finally, I work hard with my clients to illustrate the common purpose and generic problems everyone shares as managers and leaders, and to build a sense of belonging to one larger “management team”. Above all as a consultant, I do not believe in lecturing or preaching to adults who best learn when they actively engage the learning process in their own individual ways.