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#386: Don't Create Complex When Simple is Needed

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 6, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 6, 2010
I was recently called in to "fix" the work of another consulting firm. The prior engagement called for a straightforward reorganization and the firm brought in seven consultants who created a structure and transformation process that was so complicated that the company abandoned implementation midstream. Is this common or is it more common for the client to just not follow through on a good plan?

The question is common and the answer is really simple. If the client is unable to implement the consultant's recommendations effectively, the fault primarily lies with the consultant. Now, before you say that the consultant delivered a competent plan but the client fouled it up, remember that the consultant is responsible for providing advice that leads to improvement in the client's condition. That means after implementation, not after plan delivery. If a consulting firm knows it will not be able to manage or facilitate the implementation, it is obligated to provide a workable plan or withdraw from the engagement.

Consultants are brought in to help a client get better and, more often than not, this means simplifying structure and processes. What you design should be as simple as possible to maximize the odds of it being implemented and sustained (whether you are involved in implementation or not).

Tip: Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." This is good advice for consultants when they get excited about "building" new structures or processes on a client’s existing situation. Focus on making the client’s issues as simple as possible, not adding on your own complexity.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client service  consulting process  professionalism  recommendations 

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