It’s an often heard criticism in our trade: “You consultants just say what we long know“.
The last time I heard it, it was in a friendly tone from a nice chap I worked with, in a moment of exasperation about the situation I described and his scorched pride.
I agree with that, what I described was already known, even if this statement is oversimplifying. But I understand the frustration of our customers’ teams when allegedly well paid consultants come in to restate known issues and already proposed solutions.
Yet dear frustrated customers’ teams why not grasping the opportunity to reflect on your own responsibility about such situations? I will help you with that.
First, can you acknowledge the that it takes some skill to understand the situation and pinpoint the core issue in a matter of days, sometimes only hours, the time which is usually allocated for a diagnosis or a scoping?
It’s easy to boast knowing about something when witnessing or living it over years, it’s a real challenge to grasp enough understanding in a comparatively very short period of time.
Could you take such a challenge in a company and a trade you’re just discovering?
Second, you know what’s wrong and what needs to be done. Great. Did you “sell” your brilliant plan? Why didn’t management buy it?
In many cases we consultants come in to repackage “your brilliant plan” and complete it with missing bits, e.g.:
- Thorough analysis
- Robust action plan
- Convincing business case
- Commitment to outcomes
What we get handed over from previous in-house attempt is most often a “draft” with which no candidate for junior consultant position would ever pass the recruiting interview.
In less polite words: rubbish.
Lack of presentation skills is another common reason why in-house solutions don’t get the required attention.
When executives and decision takers aren’t bored to death by woolly presentations, they often have to guess what the presentation is supposed to explain.
Third, you long know about it but what have you done so far? Why did your management feel necessary to bring in consultants?
You say you had no time to work on it, but do you have more now, when consultants are in the place?
No you don’t but management will not buy your usual excuses anymore because of consultant’s’ daily rate. In other words, your company needs to pay a premium to get you doing what you should have long done.
So yes, we consultant may say what is already known, but we know how to say it in a compelling way, with a concrete and trustworthy solution backed up by a robust action plan. And on top of it we’ll take a challenge about the outcome.