Just throwing this out there… have you ever had a bad experience working with a consultant? Probably the better question to ask is: Have you ever jumped out of your office chair and said with great glee, Today I get to hire a consultant!? If you have, you’re in the vast minority. I say this with confidence because I used to be in that position, and dreaded with every cell in my body the prospect of having those termites invade my space.
Does this sound familiar? The consultant who shows up in the office one day and explains he has been hired by the owner to roll out his “World Class, Super-Secret, Patent, Never Fail” process which will bring incredible results to your organization. I can tell you that the only time I feel confident in the use of “Never Fail”, is in regard to my “Never Fail Pie Dough” recipe (it NEVER FAILS). I can laugh about that canned “made to fit all companies” process now, but it took a while. I suspect you have also crossed paths with the “know it all” consultant with a zillion-katrillion recommendations, but refuse to roll up their sleeves to help you and your team to actually test and implement those recommendations. Between the lines they are stating, <deep announcer voice> “sorry, I cannot get involved in-case it goes wrong, which allows me to place all the blame for the failure on someone else’s poor implementation of my great idea”. I once heard a peer describe this type of consultant as a “teflon suit consultant”. Do you have another description? Or, how about the consultant who is incredibly convincing and sociable within the organization and has everyone believing they cannot do without them. Yet there are no key performance indicators (KPIs) to show that the consultant is delivering anything of actual value. Oh, yes I forgot, there are two KPIs. One KPI is the consultant’s, which is the positive increase of their bank account. And the other KPI is the organization’s increasing cost trend chart.
You probably know this, but the majority of consultants couldn’t care less about your success or your organization’s success. It’s all about squeezing as many billable hours out of you and the organization as possible, with no actual concern about long term benefits (the reason they are there in the first place). Ok, that is not all true, but it sure felt like that to me back in the days when I hired them. Maybe it was me? I would wonder if those above examples, and the ones I have not shared, were the organization’s fault because of the lack of due diligence to find the right consultant (my gut tells me it wasn’t the organization as the sole problem). It is after all, a partnership. As the client, I have accepted that we have a lack of experience, knowledge and/or bandwidth for a particular project. It is my responsibility to thoroughly research and scrutinize the consultant candidates during the hiring phase. But this is not my core competency; I need help to find help, but how do I deem which consultant is genuine or even competent when I’m already searching for someone with knowledge that I don’t have? Ugh.
Light at the End
Enough of the walk down memory lane. After plus 16 years in functional manufacturing roles, I have gone to the dark side. That’s right, I am now a consultant. Only a few years here, and it is not so dark. In fact, I have met a number of great consultants, but they have more similarities to great advisors, or dare I label them <mysterious announcer voice> sensei or master. Ok a bit over the top, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find out there are a number of great consultants out there for you to choose.
In the next few posts, I will venture with you down the road of the plights, perils and ultimately the (yes, I’m actually serious here) amazing experiences and significant successes of working with consultants, and how, as someone who has crossed over to that dark side, I have come to respect the select few who truly want to make a difference for their clients. You may read this with skepticism, but it’s true…