Myth #5: Outside Consultants Should Have All The Answers – Part #2 (Lesson 18)
Consulting 101: where will all the answers be found?
One thing that consulting has taught me is this: ‘The answer is always in the room.’
What I mean by this is that we can always find an answer to the question, problem, challenge, issue, impasse, or whatever it is that we are facing. And that answer will inevitably come from within the room. Or, more accurately, it will come from the pool of knowledge, people, resources, or other assets that we have at our disposal.
Scratching a little deeper into this idea, I use the phrase ‘the answer is always in the room’ because, more often than not:
- For business-related challenges, your team has decades of expert and intimate knowledge of your organisation’s business. Team members know how it works, where it breaks, and specifically, how to work around those breaks.
- For technical challenges, the consulting experts and your own technical teams have decades of expert and intimate knowledge of the systems. They also have access to a wide variety of technical resources and information.
The combined team is an amazingly resourceful pool that is committed to solving problems. Logically, the team is very likely to be able to move forward in some way.
So if we can always decide on the next course of action, the challenge merely becomes this: how do we best use the available resources in such a way that we discover the actions that will enable us to progress?
Make sure you are clear on what you expect from your consultants
If you have unrealistic expectations of the consultants and projects that they deliver, it can prove extremely frustrating. It can also lead to perceived unsatisfactory results.
When you are agreeing the scope of the works for a particular project, before you sign the contract, make sure that you sit your core buying team down with the selling team from each of the shortlisted consulting organisations, and walk through the whole proposal.
If you do not do this, you run the risk of your organisation not understanding the full intention of the supplier – and vice-versa for the supplier’s understanding of your expectations.
If you treat the session as a dry-run of what will eventually become the project initiation kick-off meeting, you can expect fewer surprises after the ink has dried on the contract.
It is less painful to catch challenges now, rather than after the project has started.