Today we bring to you some key ways that you can increase your business understanding and, therefore, your effectiveness in consulting.
As a consultant, you have to look at things in ways that most people would not. You are valued for your ability to review/cut/analyze data and use the results to come up with solutions and strategies to your clients’ dilemmas. In order to do so, you have to stay up to date, continually honing and sharpening business understanding and skills.
We have been working behind the scenes to compile resources to aid you in business understanding. There are other options – including our “Consultant for a Day” exercise or the MC Consulting Bootcamps.
However, for some quick understanding, check out these 5 free online courses provided by some of the top universities and graduate programs in the U.S that will enable you to sharpen your business understanding for consulting.
An Introduction to Operations Management
Taught by University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor Christian Terwiesch, this course will teach you how to analyze and improve business processes, be it in services or in manufacturing. You will learn how to improve productivity, how to provide more choice to customers, how to reduce response times, and how to improve quality.
Be aware that after this course you will look at the world with different eyes – you will start to detect bottlenecks, identify productivity wastes, and come up with ideas to improve business processes. A known side effect of these skills is that you might drive friends, family, or co-workers crazy when you point out their improvement opportunities!
An Introduction to Marketing
Broken into three modules of three weeks each, this course is taught by David Bell, Peter Fadell, and Barbara E. Khan; three of Wharton’s top faculty in the marketing department, which is consistently ranked as the #1 marketing department in the world. This course will teach you the fundamentals of marketing by getting to the root of customer decision making. It focuses on branding strategies, customer centricity and new market entry.
Check out this video to hear Karl Ulrich, Vice Dean of Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School talk more in depth about the free courses that they offer.
Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up
This is a 5-week course taught by two Stanford Graduate School of Business Professors Huggy Rao and Bob Sutton, who have devoted 7 years to understanding the differences between organizations that scale well and those that scale badly. Through this course you will learn the principles that will help you scale up a venture without screwing up.
Consultants are often asked to help businesses grow. This, however, is an age-old question – how do you grow without destroying the success you already have?
At the end of the course, you will be able to answer questions that cut to the heart of the scaling challenge:
- How can you avoid the illusion, impatience, and incompetence that are hallmarks for botched scaling efforts?
- What should your strategy be? Should you be more structured and replicate one model as you grow? Or should you take a more open approach and encourage local customization as your footprint expands?
- How can you avoid cognitive overload on yourself and those you lead, while at the same time, add necessary complexity as your team and organization?
Corporate Finance Essentials
We regularly get questions on what key skills consultants are looking for, and what classes make sense. Well, here is our common suggestion: acquire hard skills, and study corporate finance to do so.
This course, taught by IESE Business School Professor Javier Estrada, consists of 6 sessions broken up into 6 weeks. Each session is self-contained, requiring no previous knowledge or preparation. Each session consists of video lectures totaling 45-60 minutes.
After finishing this course, you will be able to understand key financial issues related to companies, investors, and the interaction between them in the capital markets. In addition, you should also be able to understand most of what you read in the financial press and use the essential financial vocabulary of companies and finance professionals.
Interviews with Entrepreneurs
Consultants are story tellers, and the best way to understand how business people communicate is to listen to them speak. Have you heard of mirroring in interviews? If you model your speech and posture off of the one who you are speaking with, you are subconsciously saying – “I’m like you. I can hang with you. We are not equals, but someday, we could be.”
This is a self-paced course provided by the Khan Academy; you can take it at anytime you like. You will learn invaluable management advice from some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, Mark Ecko Founder of Ecko Unlimited, and many more.
If you have other suggestions of ways to grow in business understanding for consulting, we always love to hear them! Pop a comment below or send us an email!