“Those who can, do. Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, consult.” I’m a consultant, and have been for over 30 years. So, when I read this quote by a disappointed executive in Alan Weiss’s book, knowing a little of Mr. Weiss’ reputation. I was looking (hoping?) for a contrarian punch line. He did not disappoint.
For example, he described an experience from his early years as a consultant. He was invited by a senior executive to discuss a new project. Mr. Weiss, excited at the possibility of conducting the project for this high profile firm, offered three alternatives to deliver the project results. He then asked the executive his preference. The executive responded, “That’s what you should be telling us. That’s why you’re here.”
The story struck a chord. Over my many years of consulting with clients, in various project oversight roles, I had seen multiple examples of this very behavior. I could say that this behavior is forgivable among the junior ranks in project delivery, but it’s intolerable for Project Managers.
As Project Managers we are the experts in the solution for which we have been hired to deliver. Period. That’s why the client looks to us. “That’s why you’re here,” as stated by Mr. Weiss’ client. And yet I watch as the client, truly frustrated in some aspect of the project delivery, looks to the Project Manager for the best way out. The Project Manager offers a number of alternative actions, and then asks the client for his preference.
The Project Manager’s PMP certification (Project Management Professional) may have helped him/her become a better technical manager for project delivery, but his “bedside manner” is lacking. The client is more than willing to state his preferred alternative when he understands how each alternative will affect the final solution. But it’s the Project Manager’s obligation to walk the client through each alternative, explain the pros and cons of each, and provide a recommendation! The client is not obligated to accept the recommendation, but the Project Manager is obliged to explain his reasoning.
It’s no wonder that so many IT projects go south. Until Project Managers learn to stop hiding behind their PMP certification as the be-all-and-end-all for project delivery, and put away their schedules and charts long enough to add some people skills to their project management repertoire, the capability and reputation of our industry will never become stellar.
 Weiss, Alan Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice. 1992. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998, p. xiii. Print.
 Ibid, p.24
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