Fork in the Road

Weiss Advice Issue: 148, January, 2016

I usually tell people who are in doubt about which option to choose when implementing a project and faced with a fork in the road (as Yogi Berra used to say, “Take the fork”), to choose what’s in the client’s best interest.

That takes care of all doubt. Ethically, you can’t go wrong, and it’s an easy position to defend. “I advised that you be taken off the project because it’s in your boss’s best interests.” “I’m suggesting we decide in the project manager’s absence because it’s in the company’s best interests.”

Many times, the consultant assumes that the client’s best interest is inimical to the consultant’s best interests. Ironically, the only time that’s universally true is with hourly and daily fees, when the client is served well by quick resolution but the consultant only makes money with sloth-like speed.

Recognize that your best interests and the client’s should be congruent and consistent.

  • The faster you go, the better off the client.
  • The more frequently you debrief, the more the client is up-to-date and the better your progress appears (or the faster you can correct a problem).
  • The more quickly the client pays, the more you can focus on the project and not be diverted by haggling with accounts payable.
  • The better you transfer skills and lighten your own work load, the more skill development occurs with the client’s most valuable people.
  • The more referrals you gain, the more willing you are to reciprocate.
  • The better the testimonial, the more credit and publicity for the client organization.
  • The larger the project, the larger the results and ensuing ROI.

You get the idea.

This isn’t “us vs. them.” It’s a partnership where everyone’s interests should be the same.