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Consultant Clock

April 16, 2011

I apologize for referring to the same article in two consecutive blog posts but I feel compelled to share this for the benefit of of consultants and their customers.

Ed Kless wrote an article containing a link to the Lawyer Clock which is shocking reminder to me of how the business habits that we acquire over time can become counter-intuitive our stated business objectives. For instance, managers, customers, consultants seem to love to call meetings, and my objection is that 1) very seldom are the objectives of meetings well defined, communicated and followed up on and 2) very seldom does our internal dialog ask the question ‘all things considered, is this the very best use of ‘me’?’

Now I know that in the comment above I might have strayed from the obvious message of the lawyer clock – that the billable hour creates very little value for the customer – and in response to the obvious message, I have witnessed 3 recurring approaches to meetings with customers:

1) bill per hour and provide some specialized information to the customer during this session

2) the customer is not billed for the session because the consultant does not believe that her time is valuable unless focused on a technical set of tasks; this approach does nobody any favors because the consultant’s subconscious mind is nagging to get back to some billable tasks and therefore prevents any meaningful engagement

3) the customer’s needs are fully embraced by the consultant and the output of the meeting is a centralized record of the customers needs and the recommended approach to a solution; the customer owns this record and the investment in this record is a predictable amount from the start.

It is times like these when I am so grateful for the free market that permits us to choose the approach that produces maximum shared value…….the choice for me is obvious.

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