WWSHD: What Would Sherlock Holmes Do? (Advice for Consultants)

Mark Haas has another great post up at the Institute for Management Consultant’s Daily Tips for Consultants blog. In it, he compares the work of consultants to that of detectives, prompting the invocation of the world’s most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. When asking What Would Sherlock Holmes Do? Haas came up with the following list of recommendations:

  1. Keep an open mind, not being swayed by the preponderance of opinions as to the “obvious” solution.
  2. Employ deductive reasoning, based facts you have confirmed.
  3. Investigate all possibilities thoroughly, especially ones that at first seem implausible.
  4. Look carefully at the details, again especially at those details that may seem irrelevant.
  5. Look for connections, relationships, consistencies and inconsistencies.
  6. Ask lots of questions, and don’t automatically accept the first answers you are given.
  7. Wear a disguise (OK-you might want to scratch that one!).
  8. Be relentless in pursuit of the solution.

I don’t know Mark, sometimes a disguise may be in order!

In my work as a consultant in the construction industry, especially in the field of forensics, these suggestions become the requirements for professional success. Although admittedly, there seems to be a lot of overlap from one project to the next, we still need to approach each situation with an open mind, exhausting all possibilities before reaching conclusions.