Million Dollar Consulting® Mindset
From Alan Weiss
Volume 1 Number 5
A monthly newsletter with the objective of quickly and pragmatically helping consultants to improve their craft, results, and lives.
Alternative Before Objective: Trouble Ahead!
Whenever a client gives you an alternative (an input or deliverable) it’s fairly useless unless you know the objective. No wind makes sense unless you know the port to which you are sailing.
Yet many clients will request a “three-day leadership retreat” or “a month of coaching” as if they already know what’s to be accomplished and the best means of achieving it. It’s up to us to ask the very difficult question:
Why do you want that, why is it needed, why is this your favored alternative to get there?
As consultants we often fall victim to the same narrow thinking. We want to place something in a workshop, or in a book, or in a speech, or in a meeting merely because we think it makes sense. Yet these remain alternatives without objectives. Think of solutions in search of problems.
Check your clients and yourself. If you’re embarked on a course of action, is it in reaction to a legitimate objective and destination, or simply something you do well or love to do. It can’t be the latter. Otherwise, I’d sing at client meetings, and that’s never a good idea.
A consultant keeps hearing from a group of people that their boss does not listen to them and is only giving lip service to gaining commitment and involvement. The stories of all five are completely consistent. Yet you have not personally seen this trait, and you’re wondering if your coaching client, the boss, simply changes his behavior when you’re around.
You decide to ask others specifically about the issue without mentioning names, and you find no other such feedback from a variety of subordinates. Finally, you investigate the commonalities of these five complainers, and you find out that they had been gaining significant income from overtime that the boss has eliminated as wasteful and unnecessary.
Always be concerned with observed behavior. The observed behavior that is out of the norm in this case is that of the complainers, not the boss. What you’ve observed as discordant is them, not him. Don’t assume that volume creates validity. The phenomenon of “transference” occurs when people upset by one set of circumstances suddenly begin complaining about another because they choose not to raise the real reason of their unhappiness.
Frequently Asked Question
Q. What do I say when a client says, “My people have more knowledge about some of these points than I do, so why not go talk to them to get what you need for a proposal?” How do I avoid being delegated down?
A. Agree, but say, “Happy to talk to whomever would have the information, but let’s make a date and time right now to get back together and debrief, because I find too often that their objectives and yours might differ, and this is your fiduciary decision, not theirs.” That should get you back where you need to be.
The Time of Your Life
Ordering Your Universe
May 10, 2011
Las Vegas, NV
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© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.
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