You Don't Want My Advice
There are lots of people out there willing to give you advice, especially if you give them a bag of money.
Frankly, some of that advice is not brilliant. To get into jargon mode, it has not delivered value. Advice should deliver value. However, advice not heeded might well be value discarded.
Let me declare some interest in this topic. I have delivered a fair bit of business advice. I am that dreadful beast, the business consultant. I believe the services of a consultant can be really useful, provided there is lots of honesty between client and consultant right at the start. That honesty, of course, must flow in both directions. I must be up front about what I am going to do, how much it will cost, and what you can expect to gain from it. In return, my advice will not be that good if you won't let me see what is really going on in your business.
I once spent a whole day with a client, during which they window dressed like crazy. The actual reason their business was not working was because a family feud was turning the board room into a battle field, but I only found that out by accident. The clouds of sand stinging my eyes made it a bit harder to get to the issues.
A good consultant will provide clarity. A fresh pair of eyes. A bottle of hindsight. A big of provocation. They might annoy you, or shock you, or surprise you. Hopefully, in the middle of all that they might clear away some mist.
But something is supposed to happen. I mean, other than you getting a 287 page report, largely copied from the previous client. In fact, forget the big report. There is not going to be a big report.
A partnership is formed, in which the consultant helps provide you with clear thinking, and you, the client, will make changes based on that. Actions will happen. The value is in the actions, not the report.
Of course, the key point of this article does not only apply to consultants. In business I notice that a rare skill is the skill of receiving, and acting upon, advice. Discernment is important. But so is the ability to recognise where someone else has something useful to add.
Paul OrangeTree has been providing his own, big report free, business advice to companies of all sizes since 2005.
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