Wednesday 12 November 2008

HR consultants as bad as spam!


BT share price   I've just been thumbing through today's People Management, and spotted a piece by Alex Wilson (Group HR Director at BT*), 'How I got where I am today'.

Wilson notes:

"I get fed up with consultants constantly beating at my door suggesting they have the solution to all my ills. They think they can transform my life and the company but I get so many of them it’s just a pain – the equivalent of spam."


I do understand the problem, but spam we ain't.  Companies can learn about 'best practice' from listening to other practitioners, and sharing knowledge between themselves.  They're more likely to get 'next practice' (Rosabeth Moss Kanter's phrase) from those who are looking for, and learning from, opportunities to transform a variety of organisations (innovation generally coming from a mix of different experiences and perspectives), ie consultants.

Companies that ignore this opportunity are going to suffer as a result.


*   BT shares at lowest level since flotation (one cheap shot for another).


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  1. I think we get unclassed as spam when we believe that our clients will teach us thing or too! It's a tough one when the ethical code requires us to present ourselves as all knowing, dispassionate, above-it-all.

    Hey, do you read Hamel - I read about Hamel via a google alert!

  2. I guess the consultants who merely talk about their solutions without understanding his needs would be classified as spam.

    As a consultant my effort is to know the person and his/her organizational issues.

    Going with a list of "here's what we can do to transform your company" completely unsolicited would invite the wrath of people like Alex Wilson :-)

  3. Well, great minds (both of yours) think alike.

    And I don't disagree either. It's terribly important to be client centred in all consulting work. It's just that I think consultants need to be able to take their clients something in addition.

    The best consulting, in my view, is always co-developed (terrible word but important concept), based upon an understanding of the client's needs and their inputs, the consultant's experience, and a productive exchange between the two.

  4. Consultants who last in the industry do so only by working "for" the client instead offor themselves. However, I think there's another angle to this -- the spam part of it cocmes from mailer consultants / firms send out and often there are so many of them, that the purpose is lost.

    The difference is between the "pull" and "push".. if you establish yourself and continue to innovate and have insight to share, companies will turn to you when they need advice. you grow and refine your ideas through finding solutions for clients and its a mutually satisfying relationship.

    at least, that's what I'd aim for as a consultant!

  5. Sounds right to me too. And hopefully you'd agree that this pull approach is what I'm doing through this blog (it is its intent!).


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