Print Page  |  Contact Us  |  Your Cart  |  Sign In  |  Join IMC USA
Daily Tips for Consultants
Blog Home All Blogs
Search all posts for:   


View all (805) posts »

#713: Don't Take Your Client's Assessments at Face Value

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Almost every engagement starts with the assumptions of the client about the problem, its causes and at least some suggestion of its solution. I don't want to be disrespectful but to what extent do we consider the client's assertions valid as a basis to start our work?

This is a great question, since it lies at the heart of the consultant's value or lack thereof. Presumably we are retained to provide independent and objective advice. This includes testing the assumptions of the client. As Will Rogers said," It ain't what we know that's the problem. It's what we know that just ain't so." If the client's assertions about the cause, problem and solution are right, then why are our experience and judgment needed at all? You are not insulting your client by validating his or her assertions - it is why you are there.

Another issue is whether a client's staff, or vendors or customers, should be considered the same way. Many organizations have a culture that represents that management doesn't know what is going on but staff really does. Or that the customer is always right - regardless of what an organization thinks of the services or products they provide.

Here is a good example of how perceptions vary widely within a company. According to a study of how companies work, managers see their companies as self-governing and egalitarian. Employees see nothing of the sort. How would you advise organizational change if you faced a client with perceptions internally differing as much as in this survey? DO you believe the management or the employees, or neither?

Tip: Consultants would be wise to treat information or emotions or conclusions provided to them at the start of an engagement as just that - firmly held beliefs of the source. All information needs to be verified and we, as independent and objective professionals, do well by not taking anything at face value.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assessment  client staff  communication  consulting process  customer understanding  engagement management  learning  market research 

Share |
Permalink | Comments (1)

Comments on this post...

Michael E. Cohen CMC MBA says...
Posted Friday, December 09, 2011
This problem is exacerbated when top management, who may hold strong views, puts pressure on you as the consultant to move toward a certain solution or follow a certain approach. How to deal with that, remain objective and not alienate the top management client can be a challenge.
Permalink to this Comment }

Community Search
Sign In

Forgot your password?

Haven't joined yet?

IMC USA Calendar

10/21/2016 » 10/24/2016
2016 IMC USA Conference

The Consultant's Workshop : Expanding Your Horizons - Nov 2, 2016

IMC SoCal 11/4 Breakfast Meeting

Carolinas Chapter Regional Meeting

Message from the Chair
Don Matheson CMCChair and CEO, IMC USA
Gregory BrooksExecutive Director, IMC USA