A year ago, while speaking with a data warehousing program manager for a large company, our conversation turned to consultants. The manager spoke of his experiences with consultants who used their specialized knowledge to move a project forward and accomplish knowledge transfer seamlessly. However, he went on to describe consultants, also experts, who didn't deliver and even bogged down the project with their advice or personality, upsetting internal team members and costing a pretty penny while doing so. And, as the program manager, he took the heat for time and cost overruns. I asked him what he thought made the difference between the two scenarios. His response was that ultimately it depended on the personality of the individual consultant. When I pressed him about how someone could reliably uncover a consultant's personality, his answer was more general . . . "It's sort of a gut feeling, I guess."
How much control do you have over the success of consulting engagements? Does it depend on your ability to discern potentially hidden aspects of people's personalities? Or, are there steps you can take to ensure that the consultant you select doesn't take over your organization or operations, but rather complements them? Here's the advice I gave my friend, the program manager.
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