Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Why many consulting firms never deliver the value sought by CIOs

There are many successful consulting firms including the likes of Accenture, Cognizant, Virtusa and Wipro. Sadly, they still leave a lot to be desired in the hearts and minds of their clients. I think I know what the missing ingredient is...

It is important to acknowledge that these firms provide their clients with exactly what they ask for and therefore the onus shifts to a CIO needing to ask for the right things. The fatal flaw made by many CIOs is in asking for consulting services and not expertise.

An expert's job is to be right: To solve the client's problems through the application of technical and professional skill. In order to accomplish this, the expert takes responsibility for the work away from the client and acts as if he/she is "in charge" until the project is completed.

The consultant behaves differently, rather than being in the right, the consultant's job is to be helpful and to provide guidance, input and counseling to the client's own thought and decision-making processes. The client retains control and responsibility at all times: the consultant's role is subordinate to this, not that of a prime mover.

The best and brightest within our profession are forced to pretend to the virtues of being a consultant but in reality do not want to be one. They don't want to consult but instead have a preference to take charge. The asset manager does not want to merely recommend suitable investments anymore than a trial litigator want to be constrained to only providing input on trial strategy.

What if we could figure out a way to eliminate pretend behaviors? An expert wants to be an expert is going to be miserably poor at pretending to be a consultant and with high predictability will resent the client throughout the entire project.

Anyone want to take a guess at how frequently this happens?

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