The Downside of Management Consultants

Many companies are starved for effective leadership, and as a result the demand for great interim executives who will come in and do the work is increasing. Consider this passage from the book Traction:

The inability to make a business vision a reality is epidemic. Consider it a new take on an old quote: Vision without traction is merely hallucination. All over the world, business consultants frequently conduct multiple-day strategic planning sessions and charge tens of thousands of dollars for teaching what is theoretically great material. The downside is that after making you feel warm and fuzzy about your direction, these same consultants rarely teach you how to bring your vision down to the ground and make it work in the real world.

Enter the interim executive. This career specialty is unique to veteran executives who are expert at quickly taking the bull by the horns and making vision a reality within organizations of all shapes and sizes.

“I don’t write papers. I don’t look at 40,000 feet,” Dick Lindenmuth, Chairman of the Association of Interim Executives said. “I often go in behind McKinsey, Bain, or Booz Allen which have charged $6 or $8 million for a wonderful study that is accurate and very well done. They are worth the money, but you can’t execute on them.”

Eric Kish, an Interim CEO and turnaround expert noted as a consultant you usually have time to do analysis and present a document to the owners. However “there is no real responsibility from the side of the consultant on what will happen to that document.”

Recently, Kish was thrown into a crisis situation at a manufacturing plant in Asia where there was no time to do an in depth study.

“It took one week to gather the information and in the next week I was able to lead the company,” Kish said. “People are looking at you as the solution and they want to see action. Usually companies have decision making blockage and that is where the interim executive comes and immediately brings fluidity to the decision making process.”

“You need someone who can take that thought process — that satellite picture — and can put something together in a meaningful way to put boots on the ground,” Lindenmuth said.

Dan Fuhrman, an Interim CEO and corporate development executive said that interims are vastly different from consultants. “Interims are about leadership and action, about implementation, execution and results.”