Experience: The Key to Project Success

As a management consultant, the first question I am usually asked is how much I know about a particular industry. My answer is always the same: Not nearly as much as my clients.  

I explain that I don’t take a project to teach my client how to make ice cream, print boxes, or produce whatever their product is. There is nothing I will discover or say that my client does not already know or at least has thought about. Furthermore, during the course of a project my clients will be answering far more questions for me than I would be answering for them.  

The next question I often get is: Why should any company hire you to help them?  

My answer is simple: Experience 

I can’t think of any other profession or career that exposes you to the amount of experience that management consultants face.  

A while back I spent a few weeks in an auto parts manufacturing plant. Last year I spent many weeks at a printing and packaging plant. Now, I’m working with an ice cream plant. To an outsider these industries are totally different, and they have nothing in common. Contrary to this belief, these industries are almost identical even though they produce different products.  

They all have very similar issues: 

  • 3+ layers of management with a serious gap in communication flow. 
  • 200+ employees that lack formal training, motivation, and accountability measures. 
  • Underutilized human and resources capacity. 
  • Serious deficiencies in identifying and addressing issues affecting production. 
  • Excessive and unjustified downtime and overtime. 
  • Noticeable shrinkage, damage, and waste. 
  • Inability to devise plans and execute them in a timely manner. 
  • The current course poses a serious threat to the company’s future and profitability. 
  • Ineffective and/or outdated record keeping and reporting systems. 
  • Company’s culture lacks encouragement for creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. 

The list could be much longer, but these are certainly the top 10 problems that exist in almost 80% of the companies I have worked with.  These are the issues that I specialize in and none of them require specific industry experience. 

Most of my clients are aware of these complications and understand that they must be addressed.   However, they have neither the time nor resources to devote to finding the root causes of the problem and coming up with a cure.  This is where outside help is needed. 

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