They come trendily dressed, grinning and baring their teeth. They are equipped with the latest electronic tools. And they are forever hypnotizing you into believing that they come in peace.
I’m one of them. I know these aliens from inside their world.
They tell you that you have problems, but do they truly see the extent of them? Do they understand why you have them? That doesn’t really matter to them. Their mission is to make you buy their merchandise, so any means is ethical—to them, if not necessarily to you. So they will dramatically present their solutions to your problems.
Who’s more stupid? You, who don’t know about these solutions, or they, for thinking that you don’t know?
Consultancy invaders prattle about your market analysis and how you did it wrong. But did they do any analysis, of any value, to you and themselves? Do they really know your business—that is, where to go and how to go there, what to expect and how to react when expectations aren’t met? Do they, for that matter, know their own business?
We all want, perhaps need, to sell something, although “exchange” would be the kinder, more encouraging word. Let’s face it: We all need to eat. And just like any human, these invaders look for new sources of nutrition, all too often measured in terms of money, and only money.
Consultancy invaders have always been aggressive, yet prior to the 2008 downturn, a business could still make good use of its castle walls for defense. Not so anymore; now the invaders can virtually walk through walls to get to your desk or board room.
Of course I’m not against the profession itself, but I do object to how most consultants go about it. They focus on appealing ads and spectacular performance. They make you sign golden contracts. Then they send you a young graduate, poorly paid; yours is the first real company he’s ever seen. His task is to make your turnover grow by such-and-such percent.
Any vampire would be more honest, more transparent. That’s just a figure of speech, we all know, but the reality isn’t so far off.
Up until the last decade, consultants were paid based on an agreed-upon minimum, and the balance was paid based on the invested and agreed-upon skills and resources. There was a performance expectation, and it was recorded. Straightforward: Put the coin in, and see the gorilla.
I still do my best to base my consultancy quotation according to performance ranking, but these days customers prefer all-inclusive prices. Is this the best way to handle a complex and often subjective transaction?
What you see should be what you get, or am I going too far back into humankind’s history of trading practices? Perhaps it was the movie, Night of the Living Consultant, and its subsequent musical, that influenced me.