Friday, September 11, 2015

Bridging the know-how gap with consultants

Clear-cut Thoughts

First things first: Since quite a while I had stopped writing on my blogs. One reason is that I am focused on building THE FLOAD™ together with my cofounders. Another reason is that I needed to decide on whether and how to continue my writing.

In the past I wrote about Leadership topics. That will continue. From time to time I did also pick up other topics in a different blog. 

‘Clear-cut Thoughts’ on Medium.com is my new publication where my writing is consolidated in one place.

Maybe you will find some similarities you are experiencing as well. And maybe it will then trigger some critical thinking with you.

In any case enjoy the ride. Read at your own risk.

Walter H Groth

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Bridging the know-how gap with consultants
It’s amazing how easily money is spent for consulting services. Even by leaders normally careful with spending the company’s money. That’s right, it’s not your money but your organization’s.
As a leader in your organization it is your responsibility to spend the organization’s money wisely. That’s true for the C-level and as well for anyone else in a leadership position. And that’s true for political leaders spending the taxpayers money.
The organization’s money must only be spent according to strategy and goals. That includes solving problems that appear along the road. An implicitness often ignored. Hence, the leader’s job.
Many people in leadership or management positions, unfortunately for their organizations, have the reflex to look for external consultants when a problem appears. The easy way out. That’s when rational thought goes out the window and speculation starts. And it adds to the drama. Yet, you as a leader are in charge to do what’s required in the first place.
First, it is of the utmost importance to find and analyze the root cause of your problem. You and your team are the resident specialists. You know more than anyone else from the outside possibly can. Thus, you need to establish the facts during your investigation. You need to understand your data. That’s how you establish credibility in yourself and your team.
When consultants are hired it’s an alarming sign that some leader can’t do her job. I don’t care when you claim that your team failed. Your team failing is YOU as a leader failing. You didn’t do the job you are paid for. And now you want to spend money on top of your salary to fix your problem.
Consultants happily come in and promise you the crown jewels. And you are more than happy to buy into their story. After all you will appear proactive in the eyes of your leaders, won’t you?
You are proudly working on the solution, right? Wrong. In most cases, not in all though, you are covering up your own shortcomings. My advice to you: Get your shit done!
Consultants are not responsible for solving your problem. You are! You have to do the job and not they. They are responsible to adding to the bottom line of their consulting company. Their job is not doing your job. They are salespeople paid to bring in revenue to their company.
Their revenue goals are pretty hefty. Their commission and / or bonus is depending directly on that. And boy do they want to get their commission. Hence, whatever it takes they will do.
One more thing:
Don’t listen to the babble of consultants who, more often than not, have not the slightest clue what the words really mean they are using. Many of them are avid buzzword illusionists and most of you are an easy prey.
Keep in mind that consulting companies too have to come up with a new product / revamped service each and every year. To them nothing is more obsolete than last year’s chatter. Their new program is what’s in the automotive industry is the ‘new model year’. Not really necessary, yet, it sells.
Well, now let’s assume that you are still pondering to bring in a consultant / adviser. Then, at least, observe the following:
Only consider the best consultants around in their specialty. And keep a watchful eye on those making the most noise. Claiming that they are the most important, the most influential (“I am one hell of a networker”), simply the best. Except they aren’t. Truly remarkable, influential, and important people don’t have to talk about that. Class and style speaks for itself.
“Trust one who has gone through it.” ~ Virgil
Before you sign a contract to hire a consultant ask them that:
Have you yourself actually done what you are talking about? And if so
  • how much time did you spend performing the job you are providing advice about?
You claim that your methods are “world-class proven methods”.
  • Hence, it would be safe to assume your own consulting company is using your methods, right?
  • May I ask you then to show me your company’s performance of the last 5 years?
Since you claim that your methods are so awfully successful, would it be safe to assume that you:
  • would guarantee at least a 10x return on your annual fee you charge
  • would commit to that in the contract?
  • would agree on a penalty if you can’t deliver?
If any one of these points is declined, the meeting is over. Waste of your time.

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