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#99: When You Hear "We've Tried That Before"

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, July 23, 2009
Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2009
What do others do when the client says "I've tried that before. It doesn't work."? Is it worth pushing a recommendation uphill against this kind of attitude?

Consultants are paid to be independent and objective. Unless you feel you have been told to drop the issue explicitly, then you should press your case with your client, acknowledging that there are different perspectives. The future is only partially like the past and your case is made by walking your client through the logic (and data) of how it is different. The key here is to really dissect the assumptions underlying how those resisting your proposal arrived at their conclusions that it will get the same results as "last time." Here are some questions to ask:
  1. When was this tried?
  2. What were the results?
  3. How was this measured and evaluated?
  4. Who did the analysis?
  5. How were conditions different from now?
  6. Why do you think it didn't work?
Tip: This line of questions often reveal that perhaps something else was tried, the conditions were different, the results may not have been properly measured or interpreted or that your assumptions are not correct. The exercise of probing may actually lead to an even better recommendation.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  consultant role  engagement management  recommendations  roles and responsibilities 

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