Beware the consultant that proposes to help with your strategy.

by Dr. Donald N. Sweet

Lots of consultants claim to be able to help you with your strategy, don’t they?  Why do you think that is?  It probably has to do with their belief that they have been involved in enough strategy sessions to be able to help business owners.  Experience is certainly important, as are perspectives from outside of the organization.

Furthermore, marketing consultants will say they want to know about the company’s strategy.  While this is usually to align marketing with overall strategy, they also take a view with a marketing slant on that overall strategy.  The CFO type consultants weigh in too, with good solid thoughts, but from a financial bias.  IT consultants also want to understand the client’s strategy to offer the most appropriate solutions.  Having them help develop strategy, while of some value, also comes with IT partiality.

You know the story, everyone has their view on the business world.  It reminds me of what Maslow once said, something like, “If your tool is a hammer you only see problems as nails.”  Don’t you think that probably goes for most tools?  We tend to see solutions from our dominant perspective.

Now wait a minute, a good marketing or CFO or IT consultant says, I have broader experience than that.  While they most likely do, many specialists still see the world in light of their main “tool”.  Is that really the view that serves the business best?

Finally, many specialized consultants don’t have a cohesive structure to help business owners consider the major components of strategy.  Strategy drives the top line in a business.  If you’re not happy with your top line, your strategy needs to be modified.  It is a holistic business issue and must incorporate thoughtful People, Execution and Cash considerations along with the usual product/service, market, customer, technology, etc. issues.

Ask yourself whether your consultant has all the right tools to help you develop a cohesive and effective strategy.