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23 May 2007

The consulting diamond

Are you talking too much?

I keep saying it’s important to keep talking to stakeholders and clients, but what I mean is that you need to keep up the conversation.

This goes for both stakeholder management, requirements management and change management.

There is a time for talking and a time for being quiet and listening. A seasoned consultant shared the idea of the consulting diamond with me recently which elegantly illustrates the point.

At the beginning of an engagement you need to explain what is happening, the reason for the project, the approach and some of the high level objectives. You are doing most of the talking to people who are new to the project.

You then get into a discussion about the stakeholder’s needs, wants, constraints and so on. At this stage you should be asking open questions and letting them do most of the talking. This may go on for one or many sessions.

Eventually you will have gathered enough information and you will close down their talking and get them listening again while you pick up the talk by explaining how their information will be used and the project’s next steps. You’ll continue this over time as you manage their expectations.

Have a think about how you are managing your conversations and make sure you are leaving room for listening.