Monday, September 30, 2013

Consultants: Credentials or Qualifications?

Recently, what caught my attention was a discussion about people graduating with MBAs who want to go into consulting. Isn’t consulting a later-in-your-career choice?  Something you do after a few decades of experience?  The way a retired General working for defence contractors after decades of military experience as opposed to a 2nd Lieutenant graduating from West Point choosing to go into consulting as an alternative to going into the Army?

Case in point:  The GSA did not waste money hiring jugglers and clowns.  The GSA wasted money hiring consultants to teach teamwork and leadership skills by having employees build bicycles.


Well, what are the deliverables?  The target dates?  The measure of value added?  The argument could be made that we are dealing with intangibles. I will refute that later.

The Back Story:

A few decades ago, I participated in an exercise for a class on teamwork.  The class was broken up into groups of four or five.

The exercise?  You are stranded on an islands with a list of provisions that you are to rank in order of importance.  Then to explain your decisions.  Then to discuss all the decisions to come up with a list.  In addition:  The weather is damp. It will get colder in the night. And we are told that there are no right or wrong answers.  The purpose is to learn to work as a team.

Briefly: a knife, a rope, a gun, a cigarette lighter with no fluid, a bottle of whisky.

I listened. I waited.  I began my list”

1. Cigarette lighter with no fluid.

2. Bottle of whisky—

AHA!!!!!  Whisky does not make you warmer. It only makes you feel warmer because you are losing body heat because alcohol dilates the blood vessels….!

True. But…

1.  That was not my point.

2.  The interrupter did not wait for me to finish speaking

3. The interrupter interrupted to repudiate my point based on an assumption

4.  The interrupter did not ask me why I made the rankings.

My Choices:

I was a Boy Scout. It is difficult enough to make a fire by rubbing two sticks together or by using flint and steel with tinder under the best of conditions.  It is damp. It will get cold.  The Whisky burns.  No claim of right or wrong.  Only the failed procedure.  Or is it?

You can figure out most of the above yourself.  The “aha” moment for me was when I realised that the instructions said, “There are no right or wrong answers.”  Yes there are.

Remember, “Who’s to say what’s right or wrong?”  I won’t go there. Why not? Simple.

You make the right choices, you live.

You make the wrong choices, you die!




In Business It Is The Same.

Remember Ron Johnson?  CEO at JCP?

Johnson tried to sell, “Everyday Low Pricing.”

Consumers want to buy, “Coupons and Discounts.”

Johnson tried to convince the customers to buy what he wanted to sell instead of selling what the customers wanted to buy.

Now, Bill Ackman, successful investor, has many credentials.  In fact, he has about a billion credentials.  Still, he appears on Mad Money, with Jim Cramer, in an effort to sell Penney-Stocks. I will not belabour the point.


Diet books, get rich quick books, and self help books, do not work.  If they did, then, as a nation, we would all be skinny, rich, and happy.  Instead, as a nation, we are fat, poor, and polarised.

The authors all have credentials.  They all sell books. They are all successful.  Like Bill Ackma, they are successful at being successful.

How many millionaires and billionaires do you know, who became millionaires and billionaires, by reading books written by millionaires and billionaires?  Get the point?


Case 1

“Hello, Bigelow?  Highpower here. Standwell Industries.  The reason why I am calling is because the consulting firm of Seniors and Elder LLC put you down as a reference….”

“Great Job, Highpower.  In 2011, we had 41 incidents.  In 2012, that dropped to 27. And in the first half of this year, only 8.   And production went up 10% in 2012 and 10% in the first half of 2013.”

Case 2

“Hello, Downhill?  Highpower here. Standwell Industries. The reason I’m calling is  because the consulting firm of Young, Turk, and Wiseacre put you down as a reference….”

Enough said? 


Enough Said!

If you find anything here to be helpful in terms of marketing your consulting firm, or saving money by rethinking your choices….

Please do not hesitate to send me a really tricked out MacPro and to tuck a few dollars into the envelope along with the thank you note.

Warmest regards,


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