Note: I will be in Vancouver BC all week, so the posting will be lighter and shorter…
I had two conversations on the same day with two authors who seem to agree on little. Some of their comments were opposite of each other. Both of these authors do keynote and other pricey speeches.
This got me thinking…. Should consultants, speakers, and authors be expected to share – UP FRONT – what their basic assumptions are? When a company hires a speaker or consultant, they are hoping that this person will have a positive impact and that the benefits will outweigh the costs. The same is true when we recommend a book, but at a much smaller scale.
I was talking with a new client of mine last week who said that they had hired speakers in the past who said things that clashed with their culture and that this reduced the credibility and influence that the speaker was able to have.
When it comes to the uber speakers, like Tom Peters, I think that if you don’t know what you bought, shame on you. His style and messages are clear and readily available. But most speakers and consultants are much less known and expressive.
How do you know if an expert is the right fit for your goals and the company? I would recommend that you ask any prospective consultant, trainer, or speaker about their basic assumptions. Get to know their style by asking them how they typically work and present.
For example, I offer my opinions (you all know I am not shy with my opinions), but when I am speaking to a group of which I am unfamiliar, I don’t tell them what’s right for them. It would be pretty arrogant of me to think that I understand their culture and their strengths and weaknesses enough to say what’s right or wrong. I can offer observations and alternatives and predict the benefits, but I stop short of saying a practice is good or bad. That’s a style thing – I am flexible and fluid.
If I were spending thousands of dollars on a consultant or speaker, I would also want to know about their basic assumptions about management, leadership, and how business should be conducted. I would want to know about their background and what has lead them to their current beliefs.
Going back to the two people I talked to, they both had great presence and sounded really sharp. And they would share very different messages with an audience and offer different suggestions. If people take their suggestions, this would lead to two sets of actions and two different outcomes.
What do you think? Am I over thinking this? Some of you might feel that it does not matter because few people will take the advice anyway and the speaker is there just as a gesture from senior management. I know this is the case sometimes, but that certainly should not be our goal. If you are going to disrupt your employee’s schedules to bring someone in from the outside it should be someone who can make a positive difference and helps to make their work easier or more fruitful.