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The Mark Of A Great Consultant

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  • The Mark Of A Great Consultant

    That's easy - a great consultant gives you great advice, right?

    Well, yes. But before that, he asks great questions. Lots of them.

    A good consultant will force you to think about your business in ways you've never considered, not by the advice that he gives but by the questions that he asks.

    Tony Robbins says that one of the differences between people who are successful and those who are not is that successful people ask better questions, and as a result they can implement better solutions.

    A great consultant will help you do just that, and it starts with questions that you would never have thought of asking yourself.

    The main reason he does this is that the specialist understands that the world is a subtle place. There are many things that look just like other things, and you have to probe deeply in order to differentiate between them.

    To a layman, a set of physical symptoms seems to represent a particular illness. "I have the flu", he says to himself.

    But the specialist leaps to no such conclusions. He asks questions, and more questions because he knows that there are a couple of dozen illnesses - some of them quite serious - that have symptoms that mimic the flu. And, if it is the flu, he wants to know a lot more about what kind of flu. On top of that, for any one of these conditions there may be a handful of possible treatments, and he needs to determine which one to recommend.

    You would never have thought of any of these things but he does - and so he asks all those questions, examines you, peers at your blood through a microscope and swabs your throat. Maybe some of the questions, like what kind of work you do , seem irrelevant to "treating the flu" - but they're relevant to him.

    First, the questions, the evidence-gathering, the clarification of just what's going on with you. Then the treatment plan that fits the facts, not your assumptions (or even his own).

    Hey - I told him it was the flu. Why doesn't he just grab his prescription pad and let me get outa here?!

    Just like you, the specialist can hear the hoofbeats thundering just over the rise. The difference is - he knows they might be zebras and not horses.

    "I've got employee theft!" - uh-oh, "the flu".

    What leads you to believe employees are stealing?
    When did you notice this?
    Who do you believe is involved? Let me see their personnel files.
    What are they stealing? When? How?
    How long do you think this has been going on?
    Have you estimated the dollar loss you've sustained?
    Has anyone else in the firm observed anything about this?
    What other explanation have you considered?
    Where do employees park their cars?
    Tell me about the video surveillance system. How long do you retain video?
    Are employee purses, backpacks, etc. secured while at work?
    Have you heard of this merchandise being sold anywhere?
    ...on and on. Questions about receiving, storing, restocking, returns. Examination of the loading dock. Observation of trash-handling procedures. Analysis of opening and closing procedures. Analysis of employee time cards and inventory records. Covert surveillance. Perhaps contacts with the police, or eBay and Craigslist searches. Review of hiring procedures, bonding, etc. Maybe even a "sting" operation.

    Questions and fact-gathering FIRST...all in order to differentiate the subtle differences among a family of crimes, "employee theft", so that the treatment recommended will cure what's actually ailing your business, and not treat something else to no benefit.

    If you hire a consultant who asks questions and probes until you think you can't stand it anymore and that you're going to have to drag the "solution" out of him, be patient and congratulate yourself. You've probably hired yourself a great consultant.
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 03-09-2012, 09:21 AM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

  • #2
    And....after the great consultant has finished this exhaustive process and given their client a comprehensive report containing a list of recommendations, the client accepts the report and implements none of the recommendations. At some point, down the road of life, the client is served with a multi-million dollar lawsuit for some tragic happening that has taken place on their property. During the discovery phase it's discovered the client contracted the consultant to complete the exhaustive survey and one or more of the factors that led to the tragic happening would have or could have kept the tragic happening from happening.

    My point is you can provide a great product for your client, but sadly many clients sit on your report and find hundreds of excuses for not implementing the consultants changes.

    SecTrainer, I did like your post.
    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
      And....after the great consultant has finished this exhaustive process and given their client a comprehensive report containing a list of recommendations, the client accepts the report and implements none of the recommendations. At some point, down the road of life, the client is served with a multi-million dollar lawsuit for some tragic happening that has taken place on their property. During the discovery phase it's discovered the client contracted the consultant to complete the exhaustive survey and one or more of the factors that led to the tragic happening would have or could have kept the tragic happening from happening.

      My point is you can provide a great product for your client, but sadly many clients sit on your report and find hundreds of excuses for not implementing the consultants changes.

      SecTrainer, I did like your post.
      The medical consultant has exactly the same experience, Curtis.

      "I told him he had to lose weight, but he didn't."
      "I prescribed medication, but he didn't take it."
      "He didn't tell me how much he was drinking."
      "He denied that anyone in his family has tuberculosis."
      "He was scheduled for followup last month but he canceled his appointment."
      "The dressing was supposed to be changed every day, but it wasn't."

      Even for the best consultant, Ron White's observation is true: You can't fix stupid.
      Last edited by SecTrainer; 03-09-2012, 12:26 PM.
      "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

      "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

      "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

      "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
        The medical consultant has exactly the same experience, Curtis.

        "I told him he had to lose weight, but he didn't."
        "I prescribed medication, but he didn't take it."
        "He didn't tell me how much he was drinking."
        "He denied that anyone in his family has tuberculosis."
        "He was scheduled for followup last month but he canceled his appointment."
        "The dressing was supposed to be changed every day, but it wasn't."

        Even for the best consultant, Ron White's observation is true: You can't fix stupid.
        Sec, I "warn" my clients that I will challenge them even before they even engage us. My favorite question is why?
        "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." G. Orwell

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        • #5
          Wow Curtis, based on your level of cynicism, you've been at this as long as I! I think our new marketing slogan will be "...and our practice is focused on those small business owners who don't already have all the answers (and yet can't grow)".

          Good post, ST
          Richard Dickinson
          Dickinson Security Management Group, LLC
          DSMG Provides a Variety of Software Products and Consulting Services to the Contract Security Industry
          www.hrdickinson.com

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