I read the email.
I reread the email.
I read it again.
It wasn’t a convoluted email that I was rereading for understanding. No, the message was very clear. My jaw dropped.
I had just read, reread, read again, an email response from the consultant firm’s Project Manager to a plea from his client. The firm’s client had come across a significant defect in its newly implemented computer system. Apparently, more than 10,000 of the client’s customers had been seriously affected by the system defect. The client was asking for an emergency fix under the terms of the system warranty, as well as the ability to repair any harm to its customers.
Here is why my jaw dropped. The Project Manager offered to have his team correct the code and reset the errant data, thus allowing the negative effects on the customer base to be corrected. But then he added – in writing! – that even if they reset the data, when the batch cycle ran that night, it would just revert to the current condition. Yes, this action would fix the problem for the future; but for this one time, the 10,000+ clients would just be returned to their current situation.
Nothing made sense to me. He was offering to fix the defect, but appeared to be quite content to let his client figure out how to make things right for its own customers. On the one hand, I can’t fault the Project Manager for telling the truth. But on the other hand, his hands-off, arrogant response made me cringe. Yes, fix the defect; after all, it’s his defect. But then fix the problem caused by the defect as well!
The Project Manager’s reputation was one that exemplified all things right with consulting; but at that moment he was no consultant. He showed himself to be nothing more than a waiter with an order pad, essentially requesting his client to tell him what his team should do to fix the problem. And he wasn’t even a good waiter at that. A good waiter offers options, seeking to satisfy his diners.
Where do so many consultants go wrong? It’s in situations like this. A true consultant does not wash his hands of an issue and leave his client stressing and fuming. He goes beyond the words of the contract to the moral obligation he has to his client, and becomes his client’s solution partner.
[If you’re looking for an upbeat keynote speaker, an experienced seminar leader, an on-site project management coach, or an expert in project oversight and IV&V, you need look no further. Contact Merv to help guarantee your project delivery success.]
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