On Pearl Harbor Day (some real irony here), I had an opportunity to join four respected local consultants on a panel for the IMCNE/SPC (Institute of Management Consultants - New England/Society of Professional Consultants) holiday meeting entitled “When Good Clients Go Bad: Best and Worst Case Scenarios about Managing Your Clients.”
The panel, moderated by the lovely Martha Hopewell of Seven Centers Strategic Management Consulting, consisted of John A. Boisvert, founder and CEO of Greenwood Consulting, Roy Sequeira, President of Sequeira Consulting, Hinda Sterling, PhD co-founder and senior partner of Sterling & Selesnick, Inc. and your's truly.
Presenting in case study format, each of us related a story of an engagement gone wrong and provided our own perspective on causes and corrections. The stories ranged from runaway sponsors who left the consultant to face an angry audience to client/consultant issues with scope and budget.
When we asked the audience to join us in the analysis and provide us with their thoughts on "rescue," the meeting came alive. As consultants, we've all had less-than-successful engagements, so the responses were both empathetic and helpful. And thanks to Martha's gentle facilitation, we were able to get to the heart of the matter in each case, leaving both the panelists and the audience with an appreciation of the skill and courage it takes to do consulting well.
Hats off to my colleagues. It takes guts to talk about the "ones that didn't go well." And many thanks to the audience for their thoughtful participation, friendly advice and willingness to admit that they've been there too.