Every time I join a consulting team or organization I hear the same age old…and honestly tired rhetoric. You have seen and heard it I bet:
We are Unique!
We are the best in the industry!
We are Innovative!
It does not matter what team you join there is this hope, a dream that maybe, just maybe it is true. Fast forward 1-2 projects later and you are disillusioned, wondering how you got here, and thinking to yourself……..”wash, rinse, repeat”.
Well don’t worry I am going to give you some tips on how to simply “SNAP OUT OF IT MAGGOT”!
Get with the program
Talking with different consultants I always hear them say they joined a new group because they thought they were doing exciting things, or something Innovative. Let’s get to the meat of this fable right off the bat. No consulting firm is doing innovative stuff, they might be doing innovative stuff for a customer, but that usually lasts for a single project and then they are back to the routine work. Second consulting firms do not make money having YOU do cool in-house stuff. This is not billable, and life in a consulting space is all about one thing.
Any firm who says billable margin is not important is one of two things. Delusional or Lying. Either way run away fast. Yes, even I worry about margin, but that is the power of keeping my overhead super low. I can reduce my rate as needed and not kill the team doing the work. Now not to say that some consulting firms are not coming at the industry with unique offerings, and ways to entice you to work for them. Free food, ping pong in the office, great salary and other things. From someone who has worked in consulting for over 20 years, it’s all the same in the end. You still got to do the work, you are going to end up working long hours, you will find yourself camping in a conference room trying to make a deliverable, and in the end the customer is going to say. Looks great, now can we change it. Arggg…. So if you want to work in the glamorous world of consulting just expect to be sooner or later staffed out to a client, your account manager is a suck up who have never done the work, your leadership will forget your name, and you will only see the office when you are on the bench. Get it, good.
Stop expecting different results doing the same thing
Everyone says they have a procedure, project methodology, a unique way we deliver to our customers that makes us “Kings of the Universe”. OK. Let’s start off on the right foot. I have one of those too, it is called
“Keep It Simple, and do what works”
Now getting past the fact I do it too, maybe to a lesser degree, I have an issue with teams preaching some new methodology. Question for you. Would you want to be a customer spending $250,000.00 on a new project and have a firm come in and say they do it totally different than everyone else, and we can deliver the exact thing you want. Really, prove it. That applies to doing one project after another having the same issues and expecting different results. Common.
I cannot count the times I have been at a conference like Ignite and hear war stories from some Project Manager talking about how his team failed him because of X. I don’t think so cupcake. TEAM, don’t you understand the concept. If you go back thru that PM’s project history you would likely see the same repeated fails every time. This applies to everyone on a consulting team. Heck I have the same challenges on a project every time. How did I fix it, easy? I got honest with myself and when I hit that same point in a project I have someone else step in and assist or take that task, then keep it moving forward. That took me years to get humble enough to admit, are you ready for this….”I am not a master at everything”…ok got that out.
Know your role
Just like on the battlefield, in consulting it is key that you know your role. You cannot wear every hat, you cannot do everything. Even Navy Seals have specialties that their teammates lean on them to do. If your project calls for a person to know a specific tool or software, this is not the time to learn. Do not be the consulting team that “learns on the client’s dime”. I hear that a lot, and honestly that makes me so mad. If you do not have a specific skill, be honest with the client, let them know that you are having to skill up on it. It is better to be transparent about your skills, and the team’s role; then fail to deliver.
Now I have to say my nick name is “Digital MacGyver” for a reason, I love to pick up skills, find creative ways to keep it simple, and will take on even the basic of roles in a team. Sometimes it is fun, and sometimes it so boring. It is ok, why because not everyone gets to be the hero’s holding up the flag at top of the hill. Sometimes I am the guy out of picture holding everyone’s guns.
What would Gny. Sgt. Hartman say
My last bit of inspiring rant is something that I think is key for everyone who works in consulting, whether you one of those new millennials coming straight of college bootcamp, or a seasoned veteran from the trenches. For peat sakes…..IT’S WORK. If you think you are going to the office to sit around and drink coffee, or plan to change the world one “tweet at a time” do not do it around me. I get that some folks are going out and making a difference, well that is not the Consulting Space…we have two major things we do. Ready. I mean it, seriously, this it is, at the end of the day these are the two things all consulting firms devolving too.
- MAKE MARGIN
- KEEP THE CUSTOMER SIGNING THE CHECKS
If you can keep that going for a long time, you win…..you did your job…..you don’t deserve a pat on the back cupcake. If you get these two things right, that means your projects were good, you team hit their numbers, your client is happy and keeping you around.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, or solve environmental issues, or delve into politics, this is not the job for you.
So, in the end are you’re ready to be a Consultant. You got a war face! Common, let me see your war face! Good, now get back to work.