The innovation business is full of gurus: people that companies hire believing that they have some special source of knowledge that they simply don’t have.
In my early days working in consulting, I saw a lot of people and companies sell themselves as being smarter than the clients they are supposed to help. A phrase I heard from one business development person I was acquainted with (thankfully, this was years ago) was “What you want to do in a pitch with a prospective client is to inject F.U.D into their thinking about the job they are doing and other consulting companies.” F.U.D. stood for “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.” This is one the more offensive notions I’ve come across professionally. Maybe I’m lucky, but most of my clients have been pretty smart bears. They’re eager to learn new methods, eager to share with you what they know, and I find working with them makes my process much better. I’ve been fortunate to have clients that have changed the way they interact with their potential customers after working with my company and their projects have raised our bar on what we deliver.
And this brings me back to the question: Is the innovation guru you have hired a true teacher? My clients experience with consultants seems to be that the consultant constantly raises their game, takes knowledge out of the company and does not add that much back. So if you’re currently a company that’s looking to hire consultants or have consultants on staff, the first question you need to ask is whether you learning from them. I don’t mean just in the sense of they provided you with results to a question. Ask a larger question, what are you learning that you can take forward long-term? Have you learned a different way of working from them? Are you seeing them actively take what they are learning from you, and using it to increase the effectiveness of the work you’re doing together?
So if you’re looking to hire a consultant to retain your current consultants, make sure you ask who’s getting the most out of this deal. Are they working with you, and teaching you with an open heart, open mind and mutual respect?
Just some thoughts..
Blog Disclaimer. I will often go back to entries to make edits or clarify points. If I am changing my point of view, that will be a new entry.