Time for us to be honest with ourselves. Relax – there’s no poll attached to this blog post nor will it change what you receive from Santa during the holidays.
True or False: Often times when you think you’ve lost something, you will have found it nearly right under your nose – exactly where you were looking, but just weren’t looking hard enough. In the moment you do see that lost set of keys, the smartphone you set down and couldn’t find, or the wallet which is always eluding you, you feel mildly embarrassed for not seeing what was literally right under your nose.
Welcome to the world of Consulting. Not sure what I mean? Follow me a little further.
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve set foot on a client site – leadership desperate for strategic or tactical direction they cannot seem to pinpoint, or, searching fruitlessly to find that ONE technical solution which will solve all of their problems. The afore mentioned desperation is palpable, almost to the point of hanging like a cloud over all of the employees. As the leadership describes their ‘pain points’, they hang on every syllable, waiting for some kind of proverbial silver bullet to fall out of my mouth, magically appearing with the sole purpose of solving their deepest, darkest issues.
In a large number of these instances, after the interrogation of the client leadership has concluded, you’ll often times find me wondering why I’m sitting in the presence of these very powerful individuals. My wonder is not because I don’t understand the plight of these leaders and their desire to fix what they feel to be broken or malfunctioning, but because I feel as though my presence here might be a bit premature. Allow me to explain.
Silver bullets don’t exist, save fiction novels filled with vampires, wooden stakes, and garlic cloves. What does exist, though, are simple solutions often found right under the nose of those people in charge of leading their organization. Typically, the first words out of my mouth will be a challenge to leadership, often questioning the ‘how’ and/or the ‘why’ something is done a particular way.
“Why are you allowing employees to do this?”
“Why would you not leverage a simpler version of that technology to remove complexity?”
“Would you ever consider removing steps from this process to drive simplification, and thus remove cost, from how you are conducting your business?”
“Do you really need a $500,000 software package to do something that requires little more than a spreadsheet to manage and maintain?”
Take some advice from a consultant before you hire a consultant. Simply put, before spending tens of thousands of dollars on gathering advice from someone external to your organization to help you identify improvements, maybe it would be worth a week or two worth of due diligence to determine if there are ways you can solve your problems on your own. You need to look hard – question the status quo – consider the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of the decisions made previously and be willing to take a critical look. Think of it almost like cleaning out your closet – “Have I worn this in six months? Do I really have a need for this anymore? Why did I even buy this to begin with?” Inevitably, that old blazer or pair of heels you bought to match that one outfit will end up in a pile for donation. Equally, often times the business decisions of the past will no longer be valid and there are simpler, more cost-effective ways to address your growth areas. Challenge everything – all ways in every way.
More often or not, if you look at what you do and how you do it, you’ll find the most valuable solutions…
…right under your nose.