One of my favorite movies is “Being There” starring Peter Sellers. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest that you rent it, as the movie and cast won numerous awards for their performance and wonderful story.
I’ll paraphrase the story by saying that a simple-minded gardener (Chance Gardner) is thrust in to the outside world and through chance is hit by a very wealthy business executive’s car. The business executive’s wife feels guilty and takes him home with her to heal when she learns that he doesn’t have a home.
This is where Chance Gardner meets the terminally ill business executive who has powerful political connections, including the President of the United States. The abridged version is that Chance enchants all of the high-powered people that he meets, including the President, with his simple responses to their questions that are perceived as being incredibly profound and insightful.
The obvious irony is that Chance’s entire education and real world experience consists of watching television and repeating the sound bites that he has memorized. He is oblivious to the real world and has no real world experience or original thought.
Which brings me to the point of this blog post, do you know a ‘Chance Gardner’ consultant? Or worse, is your company paying one now? There are no shortage of ‘domain experts’ out there today pitching their services to help you and your company. These consultants and their service offerings are available in every imaginable size, shape and color.
They’ll spout forth on how they can transform your business, impact your revenues, and increase your sales effectiveness all without even having asked a single question about your business. They might ask questions but they are rhetorical in nature and they are certainly not insightful questions.
Their pitches will be chock full of buzzwords, acronyms and the ‘hot’ industry stats and metrics. They’ll charge you lots of money to tell you what you need to ‘do’. However, they won’t actually ‘do’ any of it.
Why? Because they don’t know how to actually do what they prescribe and they are afraid of being accountable for the results. They can always point the finger at the execution failure as the reason the initiative failed, which exempts them from any culpability.
Here is a vetting process to help you avoid falling prey to the Chance Gardner consultant: • Dig deep to find out their real world experience delivering successfully on execution • How many times have they done it before? • How recently did they do it last? • Are they willing to put ‘skin in the game’ based on the results? • Are their proposals filled with fluff (strategy and theory) or substance (real outcomes, tangible deliverables, and concrete milestones)? • Do they truly understand your business needs and pain? • In their SOW, have they tailored their solution to meet your needs or does it have that cookie cutter feel to it? • Are they asking smart and insightful questions? • Is there any original thought in anything they say or do? • Ask about projects that they have failed on and why? Look for accountability in their answers!
In closing, be wary of anyone that suggests that they walk on water like Chance Gardner appears to be at the end of the movie:-)