Who is Integrated Strategies?

April 7, 2008

There's a Problem With Consulting

Consulting has become a game that most everyone plays the same. Most consulting firms are set up in the same fashion, hire the same type of people and go after the same types of clients. Really, is one Harvard MBA different than another? Does having 15 of them as Senior Managers make you a better, smarter, more competitive company? Once every company has adopted the same model it won't be long until they can only compete on price. After you become a commodity it's a long, hard road.

This is the trap that most industries fall into after a certain period of time. The best way to categorize it is "Group Think." Once everyone is trained the same way, they work on the same types of projects, then begin to fall into a certain silo of specialty and you can't expect them to actually see the world through a different shade of lens. Out of all this comes your typical consultants that spout buzzwords like it's going out of style and offer generic solution after generic solution to every problem that they see.

Any consultant that you get out of the typical top firm is going to be out of this mold. They certainly have their strengths which usually include sales, client relations, asking the right questions, creating informative presentations and spotting trouble spots in an organization. The problem becomes their weaknesses. Traditional MBA programs are designed to train a certain style of thinking and decision process. That process is typically financially driven and risk averse. It leads to the natural selection of a low risk solution that creates good net present value, internal rate of return and acceptable payback period. This is all great if all you want is to be average.

Great companies all assume some element of risk. Great solutions require people to think outside the box. Great value requires a project manager not just thinking about how to get the next sale. I won't sit here and say that we here at Integrated Strategies don't ever look for the next sale, but I will tell you why we're different. We think our next sale is in the implementation of our recommendation. We'll take more consulting work but what we're really in this business for is to implement our ideas, make them work and then make them successful. Next time you get a consultant in for a meeting ask him if his firm will personally do construction management and implementation of their plan. I'll bet that they won't.

The trick to changing consulting is getting the answer from people who will do the work after they show you their solution. Consulting firms that hand you the solution and walk away accept no responsibility for your success. Wouldn't you rather have a partner than some abstract adviser?

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