An essential characteristic of world-class consultants is the ability to tolerate ambiguity. This is a critical attribute for achieving success on any client engagement. This ability to constructively tolerate an ambiguous, chaotic or rapidly changing environment and become a source of positive influence can make or break a project’s success. Understanding and translating environmental client conditions and needs into the right advisory dialogue without being irritated or annoyed allows you to think creatively when helping clients solve problems, making recommendations and providing consultative guidance.
Situation with Ambiguity
In 2011, Jeanne Bateman (Warbird PC) was on a client engagement project with a billing problem. The Billing Department was several months behind due to staff turnover and essentially no one was able to tell what the client had or hadn’t paid for. There was no structure in place that easily enabled Jeanne to follow the cash. She had to think creatively on how to piece the puzzle together by cross-referencing and only counting things once in the process. To reach the end-goal, Jeanne had to work with four different groups of people within the company. She gathered lots of data and made it into a structured product that their field personnel found extremely helpful. Beyond this end-product, another report was created from IT for A/R to use for collections and Jeanne also outlined a financial audit work plan that other Warbird PCs were able to use on this same client engagement project. Ambiguity played a huge factor in Jeanne’s work but she was able to find creative ways to get around it, and ultimately she impressed the client.