How to work with management consultants…

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TCR — I’ve been at the Melcrum SCM Summit in London off and on this week. One table yesterday was lamenting the fact that presenters were showing very narrow case studies. “It’s just what worked in their circumstance. We should have consultants present on things that work in many businesses,” one said.

But then again, when you get consultants to present they spend too much time selling themselves, don’t they? It’s a bit unpleasant to watch actually.

So I am sure it often feels like a lose/lose situation.

I can’t speak for every management consultant out there but there are a few things that you should know. I know they look simple, but they are important:

1. We cannot charge you for a conversation: we cannot ever charge you without your permission.

2. We will happily meet up with you, talk on the phone, exchange views, without asking for money.

3. We know not every conversation leads to a consulting assignment.

4. Not having any conversations leads to no assignments though — so talking to you is good for us.

5. If anyone pursues you too persistently, ask them to stop. If they don’t: call me, I’ll talk to them! (Pushy consultants give us all a bad name.)

6. Not all of us are good at everything.

7. Shop around. Get what you are looking for.

8. Agree scope, costs and reporting up front. (I can tell you how.) Don’t leave any of your questions un-asked.

9. Give us a clear job and ask us to explain when it starts and when it stops — and what you’ll have at the end. Ask for results that you can really appreciate and understand.

10. Talk to us. Without you we have no reason to be here.

The biggest rule of all is don’t be afraid. Too many of us stand around nervously like teenagers at the disco. Just pick up the phone and say hello.

/df



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