Ten Very Hard Questions and Suggested Answers: Guideline for an OD Consultant at Initial Stages of Contracting

There are no “pat” answers to hard questions that OD consultants are asked, especially at the initial stages of contact with a client. But I have tried to share the generic answers I have used over the years.

1 Client: Do you work for a success fee?

Consultant: If you promise to fully implement all suggestions and recommendations that I make, then yes.

 

2 Client: Why is your hourly fee so high?

Consultant: Because when you hire a highly skilled consultant, you will need to pay for far fewer hours.

 

3 Client: How can success be measured?

Answer: It cannot. If after a few months, you feel that change is starting to happen, it’s going well. If not, fire me. Btw, initially things may get worse; that’s a good sign.

 

4 Client: Can you kindly send me a proposal with the goals of the process, definition of the stages, and expected take-aways.

Answer: Not really. It’s guess work. I can write something for you, but it’s just a stab in the dark. The goals could remain constant, but on the other hand, they could be in a constant state of flux.

 

5 Client: Why is your report so short?

Answer: Because I invested a lot time in writing it.

 

6 Client: What is your personal experience in writing software/civil engineering/machining/refinery/fast food?

Answer: I have spent my whole professional career learning.

 

7 Client: Have you ever failed in a project?

Answer: Of course I have. More than once. And whoever you hire, I suggest that you be very wary of someone who has never failed.

 

8 Client: Can we get a reduced rate on volume?

Answer: The more I work for you, the more dependent I become on one source of revenue. I am not interested in having my revenue  stream depend on one major client, and you certainly do not want a consultant who is dependent on you. 

 

9 Client: Can you start your work with middle management?

Answer: Absolutely not. There are problems which manifest themselves at middle management but these problems are very often if not always symptoms of deeper problems.

 

10 Client: What is your approach to unions?

Answer: I respect unions; they take care of employees just like management takes care of themselves and stakeholders. They mistrust OD consultants and this is natural, because often the type of dialogue OD promotes is counter to their interests. However, I always tell union guys that I will never ever step into their sphere-and I keep my word.

 2,307 total views,  10 views today

Share Button

6 thoughts on “Ten Very Hard Questions and Suggested Answers: Guideline for an OD Consultant at Initial Stages of Contracting

  1. I have a different set of answers, Allon.

    Client: Do you work for a success fee?
    Me: Yes, if you and your people do exactly as I say.

    2 Client: Why is your hourly fee so high?
    Me: It is actually quite low in relation to the value I generate.

    3 Client: How can success be measured?
    Me: However we all agree to measure it.

    4 Client: Can you kindly send me a proposal with the goals of the process, definition of the stages, and expected take aways.
    Me: We work that out together.

    5 Client: Why is your report so short?
    Me: Because I only write about the important stuff..

    6 Client: What is your personal experience in writing software/civil engineering/machining/refinery/fast food?
    Me: Those are your areas of expertise, not mine.

  2. It would be great to see lots of consultants answer the same questions.

    My answers:
    Client: Do you work for a success fee?
    Me: We will both agree on a set of specific deliverables from me. These deliverables combined with the roles all stakeholders agree to play, together will produce the results you want. I can only guarantee to deliver my side, and to help you to deliver on your side.

    2 Client: Why is your hourly fee so high?
    Me: I produce better quality in one hour what will take a less experienced consultant up to 10 hours to produce.

    3. Client: 3 Client: How can success be measured?
    Me: We will together develop a vision or picture of the end result you want. Then will develop action steps to achieve that vision. We measure progress against both the vision and action steps.

    7 Client: Have you ever failed in a project?

    Answer: The question should really be, “do you always achieve the results and standards you feel the organization is capable of achieving.” The answer is NO. There are so many reasons for failure. From a CEO who commits fraud and loses the trust of his team, to a company that restructures in the middle of an intervention, to an executive team that wants to keep the status quo and plays politics in order to do so, to the loss of a key sponsor of a project.

    Other than that… I would use the identical answers to the rest of the questions you did.

    I love both your answers on ‘why is your report so short.’

  3. Allon, I’m curious about the last point: what does it entail to not step into the union sphere? What sort of action is to be avoided?

    • Hi Christo,
      Union stewards have certain principles.
      1) We care for our electorate like management cares for their stakeholders. Don’t interfere.
      Eg, if we protect a member who was violent, it the same as management caring for a manager who is incompetent. So don’t interfere
      2) We have spheres of influence. They will expand. Don’t interfere.
      3) Our goal as stewards is to be re-elected; don’t interfere.
      4) Communication goes from management to stewards to the floor. If you interfere, make sure it’s not about an issue that concerns us…like how bad this quarter is so we are having our overtime cut.
      These are just examples- Here is what I tell the steward when I start.
      My AGENDA is to be professional. I understand the agenda of management and the union. I am here as an expert to help management; they pay me and I am loyal to them. Yet I understand that you are protecting your people and this is very important and I will never interfere.
      allon

      2)

Leave a Reply to Fred Nickols Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.