A High-Impact Strategy & Leadership Thought-Starter
What's Wrong With Consultants
Let's face it--consultants often get a bad rap. And even
though we're consultants, we're not afraid to acknowledge that some of
the common complaints about consultants are true. Or at least partly
With Trium's unflinching honesty, we will explain why
consultants routinely act as they do, share inside perspective to help
you avoid the pitfalls associated with the complaints, and offer
concrete, actionable tips for how to create highly effective working
relationships with consultants when you use them.
The three most frequently cited complaints about
Complaint #1: "They
take our watch and then tell us what time it is."
Complaint #2: "Even
when it's not rocket science, they try to make it seem like it
Complaint #3: "They're
great at giving advice, but that's about it."
We all know where there's smoke, there's usually fire.
So let's clear through the smoke and get into each of these complaints
one by one:
Complaint #1: "They take our watch and then tell us
what time it is."
Yes, it's absolutely true that consultants are often
engaged to provide confirmation of something you already know. When
there are very high stakes issues or questions in play, we think having
someone else confirm or validate your situation is valuable. To make
sure it's valuable and not just a re-statement of the obvious, we
- Avoid boiling the ocean
when all you need is a cup of hot water. In other words, get very
clear with your consultant on what you know, what you don't know,
and precisely what you want before you agree to any extended
- Sometimes you have all
the data but it's just not organized in a way that is clear and
accessible to everyone. If you think this is the case, work with
your consultants to identify real
questions and information gaps before deciding how to proceed
- If the challenge before
you is one of getting executives aligned, explore whether the
issue has to do with data or with relationship and trust dynamics.
If it's the latter, no amount of fact-finding will fix things.
Tips for Highly Effective Working Relationships with
Consulting relationships are just like any other kind of
meaningful relationship--to be successful, they must be rooted in shared
intent, mutual respect, and continuous, open communication. Also like
other meaningful relationships, they need to be made an ongoing priority.
Trium has helped senior leaders in more than 100
organizations align, equip and mobilize their organizations to execute
against their most complex strategic challenges and change initiatives.
Most engagements delivered rich dividends; some did not. From these
experiences, we've distilled six concrete, actionable tips that can help
you work more effectively with your consultants and get the most value
from your consulting relationships:
Hire people, not firms. Every firm has
great consultants and not-so-great consultants. Focus less on the firm
you'll be engaging and more on the actual consultants who will be working
on your business.
What We Heard From You--Your 2009
Critical Learnings for Strategy and Execution
In response to our December 2009 The Ripple Effect article featuring Trium Managing Partner Andrew Blum's
three most important strategy and execution lessons from 2009 and their
key implictaions for 2010, readers responded with their own lessons.
Among them, here are five that resonate the loudest with our team:
1. Focus on the core elements of the strategy before getting
too deep into the details.
2. Many priorities mean not enough priority.
3. It's not enough to say something is a strategic
imperative--you need to back it up with clear next steps, appropriate
resources, and follow-up accountability.
4. Provide sufficient time and space for your organization
to get clear on your strategic focus.
5. Recognize when your strategy requires capabilities you
don't possess. Recognize too when you can build those capabilities
internally and when you're better off acquiring them externally.
Book Brief: Leading Outside The Lines
The book is slated for release on April 19, 2010.
Without revealing all of the authors' insights and
practical wisdom--much of it based on lessons learned during the authors'
decades-long management consulting careers at Katzenbach Partners and
McKinsey & Company--we are pleased to pique your interest by introducing
a few of their notable ideas:
1. Executives can create real,
sustainable short- and long-term competitive advantage by effectively mobilizing the formal and informal
structures within their organizations. Most leaders are disciplined in
their use of the formal organization, but miss the opportunity with the
informal organization. The opportunity is to realize an advantage that
comes in the form of bringing corporate values to life in everyday
behaviors, increased emotional commitment to high performance, and
greater flexibility and speed in addressing challenges as they come
up-benefits that can be enjoyed not just at the macro level, but where
the rubber meets the road, such as in strategic planning and innovation.
About Us & The Ripple Effect
The Trium Group helps leaders develop and execute
winning strategies. This often involves helping our business clients
achieve comprehensive, cross-disciplinary solutions to their most
difficult business challenges. We have deep expertise in helping more than
100 companies--large and small, functions, divisions and teams--to be
We welcome the opportunity to be your thought-partner or
sounding board. To learn more about us or to discuss how we can help you
with your latest challenges, please e-mail ManagingPartner@triumgroup.com.
We call this newsletter "The Ripple Effect"
because our logo features a single pebble causing ripples of water in a
pond. The pebble is symbolic of how a single, well-executed action can
have a very significant impact. The ripples also remind us of the
collateral effects of every business action--effects we strive to
proactively create in collaborating with our clients to develop and
execute strategic agendas for purpose-driven change and improved business
A Final Note
2010 strategy execution must happen now--not next month or
next quarter. If you're on track, keep going. If you're not, act with
urgency to get on track. Feel free to contact us for experienced
perspective on how to get on track and to get the results you need,
before it's too late to impact this