Do More Than No Harm

Weiss Advice Issue: 239,  June 2023

The doctors’ lofty mantra is “first, do no harm.”

That’s not good enough for consultants.

The client has to be demonstrably better off as a result of our interventions, whether consulting, coaching, advisory, or whatever. Simply not making things worse is not an admirable goal. (Remember when physicians didn’t even wash their hands between patient visits?)

So we need improvement objectives as well as metrics to show progress, and then agreed upon value to support our fees—ROI. This also entails frequent communications and debriefs with the buyer, especially at the outset and conclusion of our work together.

I usually begin a project by telling the buyer: “Here’s the deal: If you don’t believe what your people tell you about me (I’m unfamiliar with the company, don’t know the culture) then I won’t believe what they tell me about you (it’s all your fault, you’re out of touch). Agreed?” (I learned that from my kids’ fourth grade teacher at the school’s open house.)

If you’re not convinced you can be of help—because you don’t have the skill set, the buyer is too ornery, the culture is toxic, the expectations are far too galactic—then don’t accept the work. You’re not in this profession to make money, you’re in this profession to provide value and improve the condition of the client. If you’re successful in doing so, you’ll make plenty of money as your equitable participation.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t “break” things along the way: change procedures, remove people, eliminate processes, and so forth. But that’s not “doing harm.”

That’s creative destruction for a better result.

Speaking with Alan: One of my most popular experiential events, run twice a year. Learn how to create, refine, deliver, price, and market a speech of any length. A small group practices and video tapes the components over 2.5 days. Are you charging less than a minimum of $10,000 per speech? Are you agonizing over content, or not drawing a sufficient audience? You need this session NOW!

© Alan Weiss 2023