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#511: Don't Get Stuck in the Chalet in Consulting Engagements

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, February 28, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011
If my client is the company executive, and she wants me to focus on only C-suite issues, how much time do I need to spend interviewing and hanging out with staff?

A common criticism of WWI generals in Europe was that they were out of touch with conditions on the ground because they spent too much (or all) their time in their chalets. The justification was that generals needed to coordinate with their officers in comfortable conditions. This disconnect proved to frequently be disastrous because it led them to pursue strategies that didn't reflect the conditions or needs of their own or opponents troops.

There is a powerful tendency for consultants to make the same mistake. When your client sponsor is the CEO and he or she wants to spend a lot of time discussing C-level issues, you may find it easy to spend most of your time there. Or you may venture a few feet down the hall to the heads of HR, IT, R&D or other executives. This is self defeating.

Tip: Make it a formal part of your engagement protocol to form and deepen relationships with client staff across the organization. This will maximize the likelihood that your intervention will be based on a realistic "ground truth."

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client staff  consulting process  customer understanding  engagement management  learning 

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