The Best Interest of the Client

Another saying which I mentioned previously but deserves its own note is "What is in the best interest of the client?"

Often when I had a tough client situation and was not quite sure what to do I would have a discussion with Harvey.  He always listened carefully and always ask the above question.  Of course it is a simple question but not simple to answer.  A discussion always followed about who was the client and how did we determine "best interest".  The discussion was always helpful and I always came away will a plan of action.  I do not remember Harvey making many suggestions but the session was productive.  He usually just asked really good questions.  Many of Harvey's associates still remember the question and use it to help in difficult client situations.

I would like to make this idea more concrete.  I had a potential client who wanted to embark on a full scale IT Strategic Plan and they wanted me to propose on the project.  Based on my initial assessment I concluded they were not ready for such a plan.  The prospect of a big project was very tempting but the organization clearly had no confidence in their IT department.   I proposed an alternative approach to help the IT department gain the confidence of the organization.  We would then move forward on a IT Strategic Plan.  Although the initial engagement was much smaller, we were able to build confidence in the IT organization and later move forward with an ambitious plan with the support of senior management.  I was very pleased that I was able to act in the best interest of my client.

Many consulting firms in the IT business these days propose massive transformation project for their clients.  These projects involve millions of dollars and take several years to provide benefits.  Although these systems may be necessary to transform the organization I have a real concern that the patient may die in the operation.  I believe that these projects are often more in the interest of the consulting firm than the client.  With more creativity and less of a big bang, many organizations can take an approach that produces results more quickly and helps the organization change.  Of course the project design is more complex but often is in the best interest of the client.

I think these projects can really deliver value early and still support the longer term strategy and the larger project goals.   However I am baffled by why so many organizations take on these huge projects that are very high risk and huge dollars without attempting to also provide some short term gains.

I invite your ideas and comments.

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