Why do so many people ‘hate’ consultants? We are almost as disliked as lawyers! I say this affectionately because I am one of these and two of my brothers are the other.
In my days as an industry executive, and especially as a CIO, I became a consultant-wary leader. It got really serious for me when I took over as a Fortune 500 CIO after my new company had terminated both my predecessor CIO AND the (at the time) Big Six Consulting firm that had botched a global ERP implementation. They were 300% of budget and 50% of the functionality needed. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? When I met with the consulting partner to navigate the transition he told me that as soon as the company changed their business model the solution would work just fine. I was floored. This is a company with a clear direction in a complex product market – what was being proposed by the consultant would have put them out of business … which is why they rejected it and fired the consultants. Their VISION was not aligned… they could not execute to the customer’s vision so they changed it!!
After completing a successful implementation and a few years in operating management I started my own consulting firm. We set our sights on being a company that can execute to our customers’ vision… by specializing in their business needs and solutions. So our vision is to enable their vision. As consultants we need to raise the bar on ethical standards. That includes walking away from opportunities where we are not capable to align expertise with the customer’s vision and needs – where Ability to Execute is critical. All too frequently we are rescuing projects where some overzealous consulting firm assumed they would ‘figure it out along the way’; and brought in inexperienced teams who were over their heads. That is what leads to ‘hating consultants’. The money is spent and the solution is not aligned with the customer’s needs.
We advocate for a NO EXCUSES engagement plan. Deliver or don’t expect to get paid. Measure delivery in terms of clear business indicators, not just budget adherence. Then Vision and Ability to Execute are aligned for consultants and clients.