Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Projects that will take three months cannot be done in one week. You cannot repeal the calendar.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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."

  7. Don't push "rocky road" if they want vanilla and vanilla is a suitable substitute. And vice-versa.

  8. Someone will always be willing to underbid you. Your appeal should never be based solely on price.

  9. Always factor in time to think. You'll need it.

  10. 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.


Imperfectionist said...

#1,#2 however seem to undermine the human potential.

However,a Very informative list!!

Michael Wade said...


Thanks for the observation. I understand your point. Those items carry some risk. It should be kept in mind when setting boundaries. At the same time, having the boundaries can keep you from winding up in a swamp.


CincyCat said...

Regarding #1, I've personally seen projects crash and burn because someone wanted to be a "hero" and had no experience whatsoever in handling the issue. This isn't the same thing as offering assistance that is over and above the "call of duty," this is about someone who BS's their way on to a "high profile" project team, but everyone else on the team figures out in about 2 seconds that s/he is completely incompetant to the task. Or worse, someone who manufactures a "crisis" so they can swoop in & save the day. (People generally see right through those tactics...)