Consulting Simulation

Note: The Consulting Simulation is an eight-week long collaborative project in an undergraduate professional writing course.

The Consulting Simulation asks you to collaborate with two or four other students over an eight-week period to investigate a problem, identify and evaluate potential solutions, and write a Recommendation Report.

Key Words: Collaboration; Teamwork


Student Learning Outcomes

The primary goal for the Consulting Simulation is to help students improve their interpersonal competencies. Team projects and collaboration play a vital role in a majority of careers, ranging from engineering to business to medicine. This consulting simulation helps build your collaboration skills while working in a distributed team. 

Students

  • adopt professional behaviors regarding team work
    • Each student supports a constructive team climate by doing the following: Treats team members respectfully, motivates teammates, and provides assistance and/or encouragement to team members.
  • utilize collaborative skills to plan and execute a rigorous project central to the course learning outcomes, employing flexibility, and internal conflict resolution as necessary.

Additionally, the Consulting Simulation introduces students to

  • several workplace genres: research proposals, video presentations, progress reports, evaluation memos, and recommendation reports
  • peer review: students critique one another’s drafts and contributions
  • revision: students revise texts based on actionable feedback from the instructor and student peer reviews

Assignment Guidelines

The Consulting Simulation asks you to collaborate with two or four other students over an eight-week period to

  • investigate a problem, identifying causes, effects, stakeholders
  • identify a client and define a business need or problem
    • We’re defining “business” very loosely here. Business could be anything from your little sister’s after-school lawnmowing service to your local PTA, a church, school, neighborhood or civic group, or a group of folks you know with a similar set of interests or hobbies.
  • research potential solutions for the problem, using secondary and primary research methods
  • analyze your research findings
  • identify and evaluate solutions to the problem based on the conclusions drawn from your findings
  • write a Recommendation Report that clarifies the rationale for a particular solution(s).

Deliverables

Exercises

  1. Problem Definition Assignment (individually authored)
  2. Pitch Assignment (individually authored)
  3. Team Charter Exercise
  4. Team Workplace Guidelines
  5. Research Summaries Exercise
  6. Empirical Research Exercise

Major Projects

  1. Research Proposal Assignment
  2. Progress Report & Presentation
  3. Recommendation Report Assignment
  4. Team Evaluation Memo (individually authored)

Overview of Tasks

  1. Reflect on a problem and potential solutions to the problem.
  2. Pitch to your team the idea that they take on your problem for the eight-week long consultancy.
  3. Meet as a Team. Use Teams or ZOOM or whatever channel your teammates prefer. Introduce yourselves. Talk about one another’s problem definitions and pitches. What problems most interest the group, match up well with the members’ competencies?
  4. Following the meeting, finalize and submit Team Charter.
    1. Hold meetings weekly for the remainder of the Consulting Simulation
    2. Adjust the Team Charter as necessary to reflect team goals and deadlines
  5. Submit the Research Proposal Assignment
  6. Engage in Textual Research; submit the Research Summaries Exercise
  7. Engage in Empirical Research; submit the Empirical Research Exercise
  8. Submit Progress Report Assignment
    • As a team, upload the Front Half of the Recommendation Report
    • As a team, record a video presentation with slides
  9. Engage in peer reviews of two other teams’ Progress Report & Presentations
  10. Submit the Recommendation Report
  11. Submit Team Evaluation Memo
Background: An Introduction to Consulting in the Workplace
This Consulting Simulation simulates the kind of work employees would do in the consulting industry. 

Consulting is the business of providing expert advice to a group of people. And consulting is a big business in the US and internationally. In the US alone, consulting was a $68.5 billion dollar industry in 2018. Consultants draw on their own expertise and analytical skills to help identify and define problems, do research, and recommend strategies or solutions. They must have excellent research skills; strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills; be able to tailor information to persuade specific audiences; and have crackerjack presentation skills. They do most of their work in teams.

There are three broad categories of consulting: 
1. management consulting
2. corporate consulting
3. independent consulting

Within those categories, however, consultants provide advice on everything from business strategy and IT to communications and the environment. If you’re interested in the range of consulting careers, you may enjoy this article and video: What is consulting? and Consulting 101.

Resources