Over the years, I have worked with clients who have verbally disagreed with ideas with which I presented them, yet implemented these very ideas as if there had been no verbal disagreement.I can give hundreds of examples but one will suffice.
Example: CEO Herb told me that CFO Garry undermines him in management meetings. I suggested to Herb that he co-opt Garry into planning these meetings together. Herb disagreed yet a month later, I walked into Herb’s office and there sat Herb and Garry planning a management meeting.
I believe that there are several explanations for this phenomenon
- Change happens somewhat chaotically. So this phenomenon may not have a clear reason.
- Face saving. This behaviour allows the client to face save and not rely on “tips” from a consultant. This may be true, but it is too easy an explanation.
- Herb thinks he is tricking Garry, not co-opting him. So the consultants’ idea is being implemented but within a different context.
- People who get to the top learn to take credit for themselves without even realizing it. So Herb may not know how to manage Garry, but he sure knows how to manage the consultant!
- In the process of learning, there is a pro versus con, “back and forth” dynamic in the thinking process of the client. Herb’s choice may have developed after the “no” and Herb had not bothered updating the consultant.
- Clients often say things and do the opposite.
I am sure that all readers know that there are clients who feign implementation….but that is the next post.