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#637: Is Your Advice (or Timing) Overwhelming Your Client?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I have a client who asks a lot of great questions and wants us to diagnose and recommend in a lot of areas. But, when it comes time to present findings and recommendations, he doesn’t seem to want all we have come up with. Should we trim back our analysis or just find another way to give him all the information he originally asked for?

It is unclear that this is just a question of how much analysis to conduct. Beyond establishing mutual expectations about the scope of engagement, depth of your analysis, and format of the briefing and likely decision making, there is an issue of how much complexity you should impose on your client.

It is the nature of consulting that you will dig deeper into an issue and likely come up with content that is more than the client needs or wants. Don't confuse your roles as researcher and advisor. If you become enamored with all you have learned and try to present this to your client, regardless of how organized your data and clever your presentation, you run a real risk of hampering your client's ability to make sense of, and take effective action from, your work. Your goal is about client decision making, not your analysis.

Tip: Given the volume and complexity of information your client has to process daily (beyond what you are feeding him), your effectiveness starts with understanding how complex a decision space your client wants or needs. A recent New York Times Magazine article Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? makes an excellent case for moderating our own, as well as that of our clients', information for decision making. Another fascinating part of this article is about how decision making is affected by when a decision is to be made. This has important implications for when you schedule your briefings or when you expect your client to make a particularly complex or emotional decision. If you want to make sure your clients get the best you have to offer, this article is worth the time to find out how much and when to present the most effective information.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  communication  decision making  information management 

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