Dave Gardner’s Approach:
Make The Complex Simple Around People, Process And Technology
Dave’s Mindset on Effective Consulting
A consulting colleague asked what kind of projects I had performed for clients over the years. I shared probably five different types of projects as examples.
At the end of our discussion, she said, “Your whole consulting life has been about making things easy.” She was right. It is what drives me to do what I do. And, that is the mindset I start with and maintain while working with my clients.
Too many consultants go out of their way to foster needless complexity to increase client billable time. It increases the number of meetings, which creates the need for more meetings, which equates to more and more billable time. That approach is antithetical to my values and what my clients need and want.
Everything I do for my clients is for their benefit, not mine. My value-add eliminates the headaches of complexity, allowing clients to enjoy their business again.
Here’s the mindset that guides my consulting work:
• My clients must become better off as quickly as possible.
• I have to make the complex simple; that’s what my clients want, that’s how my mind works.
• My clients are pragmatic, just as I am pragmatic.
• The system and/or process I am delivering must meet and/or exceed the essential needs of the business.
• Verify my clients and their team are comfortable; they know how to execute the system and/or process on a day-to-day basis.
• Ensure my clients aren’t dependent on me upon completion of the project.
I use examples to which my clients can relate.
Let’s say, for example, I am involved in a project to design and implement an airline reservations system, a system that will be used by reservations agents. As the project gets ready for go-live, I need to be comfortable the agents will be able to satisfy the needs customers expect them to execute. Those “needs” are use cases—the system must be capable of supporting all the required use cases. If the system or agent can’t accommodate the vast majority of the use cases, it’s not ready for go-live.
There are things I do to set the stage in support of my mindset.
1. I start by understanding the client’s current situation—what is/are the business driver(s) for this project. Capturing this is invaluable for the client and me.
2. I work with the client to describe:
a. Objectives: as a result of this project, what outcomes are required?
b. Wish List: many clients believe particular wants are impossible, so they leave out what would make the difference between satisfied and elated.
c. Measures: how will the client know the objectives are met?
d. Value: what is the value to the client in doing this project and meeting the objectives, both tangibly and intangibly?
e. Implications: what are the implications of not investing in the project?
3. I create a proposal with different fixed price options identifying how I can help my client meet the objectives, measures, and value.
4. I add a provision in the proposal that says, “Should the scope change during the project, I will submit a change order for the client’s approval to account for the additional value required.”
So, we know why we are doing the project, I am focused on meeting client needs, we know how much the client’s investment will be, and, finally, I am incented to deliver the results as quickly as possible as I’m not working on our hourly or daily basis which, by its very design, is a disincentive to deliver the client’s solution rapidly as I would make less money.
But, most importantly, I make a difference for my clients by making the complex simple.
Where is your company today? Where do you want it to be?
Since 1992, our clients have benefited from a results-oriented management consulting firm dedicated to improving our client’s condition in ways they alone cannot achieve.
We offer the experience, expertise and focused energy to help you realize your desired outcome in a timely manner. Clients benefit from our pragmatism as well as our broad, hands-on operations expertise to resolve interdepartmental conflict and improve business execution.
How are we different? Our clients want consultants who:
- Come in and quickly frame the issue at hand, help clients achieve the outcome(s) they seek and go away leaving the client better off and self-sufficient.
- Simplify your business challenge, not create more complexity, with pragmatic, results-oriented, appropriate solutions tailored to your needs.
- Help the client not only with strategies and tactics but hands-on implementation including change management and organizational adoption.
- Bring best practices from a number of different industries.
- Provide process expertise that, when aligned with the client’s subject-matter expertise, creates a win-win for the client and the consultant.
- Offer fixed fees based on our contribution to the value you receive. Our fees represent a dramatic return-on-investment for you and equitable compensation for us—that is how we partner.
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