Are You Buying Brains or Extra Hands?

Are you buying extra brains or extra hands?

Are You Buying Brains or Extra Hands?

“Hey, Doctor!

So, here’s the scoop…I’m dying.

But I'm not going to let you run any tests on me, or use your medical training to assist me in any way.

Just tell me which specific aspirin will cure me, and I’ll be on my way. Actually, how about the blue one? I’ve heard it’s pretty good.”

So I’m not dying, yet…

But this fictitious style of a conversation between doctor and patient is all too common in many organizations.

We’re often looking for the quick fix.
The simple solution.
The silver bullet.
The cheaper option.
The thing that’s instantly going to take away all our problems and challenges.

But a great doctor won’t prescribe until she can diagnose.

It shouldn't take forever to diagnose a situation, but prescribing without putting care and thought into the proposed solution is a recipe for disaster.

I see this occasionally with companies who reach out to me for help and then proceed to dictate to me exactly what they think I should be doing.

“Noah, we need help with our strategy!! So we need you to come in, conduct a 2-day strategy retreat, and use John Generic’s 18-point strategic model. We’ve included a schedule and an outline of topics to be covered in 20-minute increments. How much would you charge for that?”

There are lots of folks out there who might quote a price on that kind of assignment, but I never have, and never will.

Because if the company not only knew that they needed help but knew the solution that would provide them with the highest value – they could do that without me.

In these cases, I’ll often suggest to the client that they run the retreat without me, and get back in touch 6 or 12 months later when the critical issues still haven’t been fixed.

If you’ve read my tidbits over the years (and paid close attention to your own company’s successes and struggles), you’ll know that the core issues that need to be addressed to create performance gains are usually pretty simple in the abstract.

It’s in the execution that every company differs, and the specifics of one success story don’t always translate out to another.

All of this is to get to one straightforward point:

If you’re bringing in outside expertise to help you with anything, be it strategy, sales, communication, marketing, reducing attrition rates, etc.…

Pick a partner whose expertise you trust. If you are confident that you know EXACTLY how to solve your problem, don’t engage an expert/specialist. Hire a project manager full time to execute your perfectly laid out plan.

There’s no point in bringing in outside expertise if you don’t trust them to add value in their area of expertise. If you’re going to be paying anyway, pay for brains, not just hands.

Typically I finish these with a challenge, but today, instead, I'll end it with a summary.

I’ll never forget a comment my optometrist made to my wife years ago when she thought she had found the source of a problem I was having… “Oh, I didn’t realize you also had your optometry degree.” It was hilarious and I still razz her about it.

I’m not saying that there’s quite the same knowledge gap between business service providers & leadership as there are between patients and doctors, but I will repeat that it’s a waste of money to work with a service provider or consultant if you’re not going to utilize their experience and expertise – if you don’t need those elements, it’s much cheaper to hire an employee to follow your plan!

Just hope you’re right!