Senior leadership has hired several consultants in place of giving us more resources to provide the features that we know would enhance the system. I’ve been sitting in on these consultants’ requirement gathering seminars so that I can “observe.”
Has anyone dealt with this before? I’ve spent over six hours in workshops listening to consultants ask pretty basic questions about the company to get a rudimentary grasp of it, then consumers request features that we’ve known about for two years. They then hear from the consultants that such proposals are excellent ones.
I’m making an effort to look at the bright side of things. Even though the consultants are merely presenting them information that we already know, perhaps the senior leadership team will still pay attention to them? I suppose that’s beneficial if it still leads to more resources being used. However, it was a frustrating experience.
The decision to hire someone external to deal with the situation is a reflection of their lack of faith in their own team. If they are truly providing you with information you already know, the leadership is definitely the problem here because they don’t appear to trust their own employees.
They may also require a fallen hero, which is another alternative. They might be getting into a political mess, and they need some outsider to take the brunt of it.
This could potentially create a toxic work environment and hinder collaboration within the company, leading to negative impacts on productivity and employee morale. It is important for the company to address the situation promptly and find a solution that promotes a healthy and supportive work culture. This will ultimately contribute to a more positive and efficient working environment, resulting in higher productivity and overall success for the company in the long run. By prioritizing employee well-being and fostering positive relationships among colleagues, companies can create a culture of collaboration and mutual support. This culture can lead to a more cohesive and motivated workforce.
That’s the key idea. It’s always a political issue when it comes to consultants. They have to spend a lot of money on someone with a fancy title, after all, to get the attention of the leadership. OP, I once heard a peer provide this extremely sage advice: “This is not my father’s business.” Therefore, take a big breath, sit back, and observe the leadership and consultants as they go about their business. Only then can you strategize and make informed decisions on how to effectively get their attention. This is the key to achieving success in any organization. By understanding the dynamics and priorities of the leadership and consultants, you can tailor your approach and actions accordingly.
As a consultant, I frequently advocate for top management using the initiatives of champion employees.
I help organizations transform digitally.
The ideal outcome would be to encourage the top performers of today to accomplish their goals from 2015.
In the worst situation, cultural hurdles would force me to fire the entire IT department and start over with a more cohesive and tech-savvy crew. The company would suffer a significant disruption and setback as a result.
@DhirajMehta, That second sentence really proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you are a consultant. You always manage to say what everyone already knows. Of course a business would experience severe disruption and setbacks if their staff were not tech-savvy.
It’s also amusing to note that “transform” doesn’t always imply improvement. Negative effects could result from improperly handling the change. Companies that don’t embrace technology and adapt to the digital age risk falling behind their rivals.
@MarcoSilva, I mean for the better in terms of margin profits and overall financial performance. However, the decision would also lead to a loss of institutional knowledge and potentially damage employee morale. It is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons before making such a decision. The decision makers should consider the long-term implications and potential ramifications before finalizing such a decision.
Okay, but you have the self awareness to know that hackneyed phrases like “digital transformation” are the calling card of consultants, right? I was expecting an /s after that one, and maybe I should have added one myself.
I wholeheartedly concur with your viewpoint. Short-term tactics, like switching from butter to margarine, may momentarily increase margin profits, but they also run the risk of lowering product quality. Customers may then switch to other brands once they become aware of the quality tradeoff.
The migration pattern to AWS in 2023 followed the same logic. While AWS is a powerful platform, it’s critical for businesses to comprehend their unique requirements and determine whether AWS is the best fit for them, rather than simply joining the crowd because it’s the thing to do. What makes sense for the business now and in the future, not what was trendy in 2015, is what matters.
However, when things go wrong, the consulting firm is already out of the picture, and the manager who hired the consultants has moved on to a better position.
@BobbyDuncan, Since we are all here to create value, I don’t like the way that many product people view the “decline in product quality due to business focusing” as though they were in a different game. Instead, I prefer to focus on user experience because most businesses lack an actual digital vision for the future and instead try to hold on by implementing the latest fad without properly considering how it fits into their overall long-term game plan.
Obsessing over the needs of the consumer and adopting a data-driven mindset can easily accelerate a business.
I believe that many PMs fall victim to Steve Jobs’ ego-driven necessity implantation.
I’ve been there. Sometimes management places more trust in the consultants or considers their opinions as a “unbiased” criterion for decision-making.
The consultants typically don’t provide anything new to what a competent specialist already knows, but the MT usually gives them the power to make swift changes to or new processes. So let’s hope a consultant can be a help if the business has issues with product culture, development, or decision-making.
Of course, a lot depends on the consultant and how willing they are to delve deeply into the backdrop of the business.
To add to this, I would remark that early on in an engagement like this, I would be concerned if the consultants were asserting that they had some insight that nobody who was familiar with the difficulties had yet had. They ought to be paying attention and starting by trying to understand.
Then, ideally, they will make recommendations for the resource, technology, and process modifications required to execute the changes using their resources and their expertise in change management. Is this everything a capable PM can handle? Yes. However, if there are many changes, it may be too much for one person to handle effectively. That’s at least my upbeat interpretation.
There are occasionally valid reasons to use consultants, but frequently, their purpose is to give the person hiring them the political capital they require, whether that be a source of “objective” information to advance an initiative or protection in the event that it fails (“I didn’t say we should do it, Deloitte did,” etc.). The main purpose of consultants is to give the person hiring them the political capital they require, whether that be a source of “objective” information to advance their agenda or a scapegoat to deflect blame onto.
@DanCoelho Precisely this.
The partner and sponsoring executive typically know (or have agreed) what the results will be before they start, at least with the large consultancies. The junior folks are essentially working out a lot of details to support the high-level “findings/plan” slide deck that will be presented later.
When a company’s top management thinks that internal politics and/or power dynamics make it challenging to determine the company’s or organization’s future course, external consultants are typically employed. They are frequently hired when management thinks it will be necessary to make difficult decisions that may affect resources and headcounts.
Managers occasionally lack the confidence to make the decision themselves and seek external validation.
Good for you if they support your knowledge and belief about the direction. It is advisable to continue working with them.
Wonderful! You’re not alone. We had a new VP appointed. He was formerly a senior product manager at a FAANG company, a management strategy consultant, and now a vice president in charge of a portfolio of four products. The foundations of product management and processes are being taught to us. Marty Cagan regurgitated too much information and wisdom in his book, “Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love”. We are expected to apply these principles and techniques to effectively manage our products in order to create tech products that customers love.