“Young management consultants may be novices, but they’re sold as experts. Conversely, even experienced consultants, who legitimately present themselves as experts, still feel like novices when they embark on a new project.
The challenge with effective consulting is that it depends on in-depth situational knowledge that consultants simply can’t have when they start an assignment. What’s more, they may not yet be completely clear on what the client — who’s paying top dollar and expects results immediately — really wants. So consultants must rapidly and discreetly gain knowledge of the client’s business while simultaneously giving an impression of competence and self-confidence. We call this challenge learning-credibility tension.”