On a phone call to Dave Snowden yesterday he recalled a conversation he had had with Peter Drucker about consultants in which Drucker said something along the lines of “consultants should be like butterflies. They should flit about sharing ideas and inspiring people to change. They shouldn’t end up doing things for people”.
As Dave then pointed out this is very much where we have ended up with an industrial model of consultancy where youngsters with minimal experience siphon off vast amounts of money supplying cookie cutter solutions to business that all too often do more harm than good and deliberately cultivate damaging dependency.
I faced this with my own consultancy. I wanted to be a butterfly, they wanted me to be a drone. That look of nervousness when they realised that I expected them to change their thinking and do something with the new ideas. Even if they were comfortable with this their boss invariably wasn’t. It was frustrating for both of us and over time I grew weary with that frustration.
I used to joke about having an agreement for potential clients to sign that said “Do you care? Do you really care? Do you really, really care?”
People who really, really care can still make a difference. We need more of them.