Consultant's toolbox: seek out what's working, not just what's broken

As consultants, we typically seek out what’s going wrong: the faults, frictions, and broken bits that we can help improve in service of a client’s needs. This is a direct, unsubtle path: find the thing that isn’t right; make it better; send an invoice; ask for referrals. It’s a living.

It’s also missing all the good stuff, and in so doing, risks skipping the second-order thinking required to mitigate unforeseen consequences. What if the thing you change improves the immediate thing you’re observing, but breaks something more crucial?

When conversing and investigating with your client, be sure to ask: why is this the way it is? Where do you want it to be? And why isn’t it worse? –that is, what are you doing that’s keeping things as good as they are, when there’s clearly worse outcomes available?

Then, listen closely.

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