Too many cooks in the kitchen? what to do when there are several OD consultants in one space

It is not infrequent to find several OD vendors in a shared space.

It may look something like this, for example, in a call centre:

  • Anne is working with the middle managers of a call center; she was hired by Training.
  • Sam is working on processes between Engineering and the Call Center; Sam was hired by the IT focal point in Engineering.
  • Bella is working with front line staff on soft skills. Bella is CEO’s brother’s son’s girlfriend.

Then, out of the blue, someone in client base decides to have a periodic meeting of all vendors “for the good of client”. This post relates to what I recommend doing in such a situation.

1) What the client has done by farming out work in such a fashion is not good for the client. Putting vendors in one room and expecting them to act as one group is another act which does not serve “ the good of client”, because the expectation from the vendors is non realistic.

Never forget that having multiple vendors is a method organizations use in order not to change… don’t get carried away in the meeting. The meeting is all about playing defence against other vendors’ prying while avoiding the stupidity of pretending to all be part of a one team. If the vendor wants one team, he would have hired one.

2) If asked your opinion whether or not such a meeting should take place, be non committed. “The client can manage vendors as it wishes.”

3) If you like sports metaphors, “play defence”. If you prefer a more political script, “be cautious”. If you want straight talk, shut up as much as possible.

4) Talk last. Let others talk before you.

5) When it comes time to talk, ask questions. Disclose the bare minimum.

6) If another vendor stings you, roll back and absorb.

7) Mildly praise work of others.

8) When asked on feedback about the meeting, you should say “you hope it brought value to the client.

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5 thoughts on “Too many cooks in the kitchen? what to do when there are several OD consultants in one space

  1. Funny you should re-publish this one, Allon. I just had such an experience the other day when three of us vendors were gathered by the client into one meeting.

    While I did not have the benefit of your tips, I am happy to say I did 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8.

    And actually # 6 (“If another vendor stings you…”) actually happened! I had asked a question, and this other vendor answered in such a way as to make me seem like a fool for having asked it.

    I absorbed it and rolled on.

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