"I Don't Do That"
As a long-in-the-tooth management consultant, I've adopted certain rules. They may not be perfect but they provide some guidance when an off-the-cuff answer is demanded. Here are a few of them:
- Don't do something that you don't do. Catchy, right? It may be tempting to take on lucrative projects that are outside of your area, but you'll regret it. Stick to your area of expertise.
- If someone brings you a disaster in the making, politely show them the door. They may claim that you'll be their saviour, It is more likely that you'll be their scapegoat.
- Projects that will take three months cannot be done in one week. You cannot repeal the calendar.
- Set the conditions and resources that are needed for a project to succeed. Don't permit someone who has no experience in your area to set those.
- Have known and reliable back-ups. I once let a client choose an unknown and inexperienced attorney on a sensitive project. The scars have yet to fade.
- Don't give people what they want if it will hurt them. They may beg for it but that doesn't mean you should abandon the old medical rule of "First do no harm."
- Don't push "rocky road" if they want vanilla and vanilla is a suitable substitute. And vice-versa.
- Someone will always be willing to underbid you. Your appeal should never be based solely on price.
- Always factor in time to think. You'll need it.
- If something doesn't feel right about the project, you've just heard an alarm bell. Every alarm bell that I've heard on a project eventually turned out to signal a real problem.