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Volume 8  Number 8   |  August 2018

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The Sweeper

On vacation at the Jersey Shore, I was making a morning run for newspapers and donuts. When I pulled to the curb where it is illegal to park, I was thinking I’d put on my flashers and run into the shop. There was already a new Corvette in one of the two illegal spaces.

But I noticed a huge street sweeping machine crawling down the block, and decided to pull the Rolls into the tiny donut shop lot, where it hardly fit. When I came out ten minutes later with my order, there was chaos. The sweeper had pulled around the Corvette but hadn’t turned off the brushes, showering the car with gravel and scratching the sides.

“I’m going to sue the city, I’m not putting this on my insurance,” yelled the Corvette owner. Yet he was parked illegally and the city wasn’t going to pay no matter what, and I told him to call the police and file a report for insurance purposes.

It doesn’t take a master consulting genius to see: large sweeper, illegal curb, Rolls Royce, and realize it’s not a great dynamic.

The Lesson

When you’re consulting, ask yourself what dynamics that are converging are going to be positive or negative in all probability. An additional buyer with whom you’re not doing business attending your debrief with the current buyer is a good sign. The human resource people asking to be present at that same meeting probably is not.

Also ask yourself what you’re really saving when you ignore procedure. I had to move another 30 yards off the street instead of parking right in front of the stores. But even if I had to park across the street and down the block it would have made sense to avoid the sweeper.

With your client, does it make sense to begin mentioning things outside your current purview and risk scope creep, or does it make sense to wait until you can make a more formal proposal to extend your current work?


Take responsibility, don’t assume the other party will. I don’t even know if the sweeper’s brushes could have been briefly turned off, but why assume they would be? Don’t assume that accounts payable is going to abide by your “payment on acceptance” just because the buyer signed off. Make an effort to ensure that they do.

© Alan Weiss 2018

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Above and Beyond

Join me for SAC’s annual meeting: Above and Beyond: Taking Your Consulting Practice to the Next Level, October 3rd and 4th in New York City. I’ll be speaking in the mornings, followed in the afternoons by other experts. This meeting is included as a benefit of regular SAC membership. International SAC members can attend for $145, members of SAC Partners can attend for $250 and non-members can attend for $350. Click here to register. Or, you could join SAC and enjoy this conference as a membership benefit.



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