Saturday, December 13, 2008

Choosing a Constultant

Selecting a constultant is challenging.

Choosing the best constultant for your project or task is actually a potentially time-consuming effort with huge potential for failure and misery.

Many people naively assume that anybody can constult, that constultation is a low-effort last-minute, impulsive undertaking.

It's not.

If you are planning on retaining a constultant there are several key things to keep in mind.

First off remember that the definition of constult is to "act stupidly together" so a constultant is a co-stupidist. This sounds trivial but its not.

Lot's of people confuse stupid with silly or naughty. To help keep the differences straight use the 'water-cooler test' for stupid. If you are doing something with your constultant that you would laughingly tell your co-workers at the water-cooler then it's silly. Likewise if you are doing something with your constultant that eventually you would share with your co-workers then it's naughty. A genuinely stupid outcome should result in private embarrassment and a covert sense of relief that only your constultant was involved.

Next do not under any circumstances forget that constultancy means that you are being stupid together. It's not enough to hire a hot-shot constultant and then simply sign off on their stupidity. This is not about watching, buying or listening to stupidity. It's about sharing the stupidity. If your constultant can't provide specific examples of how previous clients have contributed then you might just be getting second-hand stupid.

Finally is the sensitive topic of negotiating a fee. There tend to be differing opinions on this topic but through personal experience working with constultants from around the world my observation is that the services of the most talented constultants can generally be engaged with a few beers.