Not Guessing!

The requisite motivation for a business owner to hire advisory or subject matter expertise – commonly known as outsourcing – is typically a growing awareness by the owner(s) of a problem that must be urgently resolved, one that can no longer be relegated to “it will get better soon.” That assessment is usually coupled with the determination that the company’s resources of expertise, experience or time inside the management team are found to be wanting or need to be augmented. The “problem” may be predominately internal to business processes, practices, products or its people, or it may be significantly external in nature, driven by market changes or possibly new competition.

Regardless of the problem’s origin or nature, in some instances the necessary motivation to hire outside “consultants” is hard to find. We surmise the motivational challenge – significantly more prevalent in smaller businesses – is frequently centered in a past experience or two where the desired outcome or deliverable from the consultant fell somewhat short of the defined scope of work and the value promised. It’s more than being lean. A project initiative that failed to meet its expectations can happen, but why and how can outsourcing be more effective, more valuable to the company?

Let’s consider how the project’s Scope of Work (SOW) is determined.

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The Missing Kernel of Motivation

As “consultants” in various peer-to-peer exchanges discuss shared challenges, many conversations invariably turn to a common challenge we collectively face far too frequently.

How can we – as market-proven, trusted advisors, as business consultants, facilitators and change agents – more consistently motivate business owners to take action to resolve pressing business challenges? Human beings (including business owners), still won’t move off-the-dime even when seemingly all barriers to action have been removed. What is it that stalls action to achieve a better future?

The following is a generic summary of the consultant/owner dialogue.

(1) A specific business challenge is identified and needs to be resolved,
(2) The company has the necessary  financial resources to address the challenge,
(3) The company doesn’t have the internal resources to adequately address the challenge in a timely manner, and
(4) The owner knows the consultant has the necessary expertise, experience and offers a cost-effective methodology to resolve the problem.

Yet, too often, the owner simply doesn’t move forward. The conversation just stalls. Why? What stops it?

There probably isn’t a magical answer, a silver bullet or a simple formula of “do this differently and you will achieve a better outcome.” While it may seem to be self-serving, and it is to a degree, the consensus in these consultant conversations is that these businesses should at least find some help from outside to add to their own abilities.

As this question is posed, I offer that each consultant must build trust, speak with less jargon and use a consultative selling process. That should at least be part of the answer. Is there more?  I invite all to share their insights.