That's the old joke about consultants - we borrow your watch and tell you the time. I'm happy to confirm it's entirely based in fact. Sort of.
Often, during projects, we are asking our clients for data they already have - financials, client data, and external economic data. So, they have access to information. They do have a watch.
The question is how often are they reading it? And the answer often is, not as often as they could. Companies get into the habit of looking at information in a routinized way - the same report every month – and it can be hard to shake new insights out of data when you see it presented consistently. Or they collect information but don't even take a good look at it, much less report on it. Some of this is purely about time and resources, and some of it is about not asking the key questions when they look at the information they have available. Sometimes that’s because the people asking the questions aren’t the same people as those with the data.
So then when they have an unusual problem to solve, they often don't see how the information they already have can be manipulated to help them figure it out.
That's where we come in. We start with the problem, and then try to figure out how obtainable data (from the clients and from elsewhere) can be used in creative ways to figure out the answer. We also do external research and interviews, but often the internal data is the most compelling for the clients to re-imagine the issue at hand.
So maybe we borrow your watch, but we fix the shattered crystal, replace the battery, and reset it to daylight savings time for you. And then we can see what time it is, all of us together.