I watched a BBC video on great white sharks in South Africa that reminded me about a few important management consulting points:
1. Competitive environments don’t only evolve; they can jump
Too often, businesses discount a new competitor; after all, if you’re at the apex of the system, you’ve probably lost your fear of competition. By the time businesses have recognised the change, they often have already been marginalised. They desperately want answers that justify their management of the situation, rather than advice on how they can change.
2. Management ignores Occam’s razor at its own risk
Complicated or technical changes are like a suit of armour to a management team. No Board will pass judgment harshly if they can’t explain what happened. Obscurification is denial; as soon as you see it, you know you’re on the right path. Sometimes logic lines are blurred to justify certain prejudices within the management team.
3. Staff will protect their jobs and risk the business when push comes to shove
It’s always something or someone else’s fault. As a consultant you have to assume the basics, no one wants to be fired, and no one wants to retrain, or re-skill when they’re already being paid well to do what they are doing now. I take the tack that unless you have a clear green light from an agent for change within the Board or upper management, you cannot do your job as a consultant. It’s not my job to fire staff; it is my job to point out the benefits of change or maintain a business plan.
4. No one wants to change; no one wants to move
The first time a consultant sees the phrase ”for the last ten years”, or something similar, is when you know that a Company and its management team don’t want to change. Additionally, when staff use the phrase “I’ve never seen anything like this before”, they are pleading with you for sympathy; and they may or may not deserve such a response.
5. Suppliers are the last one’s who will help you
Suppliers will always tell you that they have enormous amounts of capital tied up in plant and equipment; they will happily walk you around huge factories and vast logistics hubs to make their point. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re serviced by; it’s the same story. If you’re an asset management company looking to strip costs out of execution or banking services, you’ll get what I call the “walk and shake” treatment. I visited an investment bank’s Tokyo office, and it was set-up to intimidate; the lifts were at one end of the floor, and management glass offices were at the opposite end. The host for the day walked me up the centre aisle like a prize calf at an agricultural show; we were stopped at least a dozen times before entering the big glass room. It was all a show to say; “see that, that’s where your brokerage fees go”; newbies can’t resist the walk and shake.
Contact me via Linkedin ---> Mike Fagan