Creating a Consulting Engagement
When You Want Help With the Transformation of Your Company
Transforming your company can be a daunting prospect. Having a guide, co-designer, confidant, brainstorming partner and facilitator can make the project faster, less expensive and more fun.
The consulting relationship is a co-creation. What you bring to the party is deep knowledge of your company, its history, players, systems, customers and products. I bring to the table knowledge and experience from across many companies and industries of planning and organization design. It is the collaboration of these skills, knowledge and experience that makes the consulting relationship powerful.
With a new client, I virtually always start with the Life Planning Session. There are several reasons for this.
First it gives you a chance to see me in action, get to know me and experience the quality of my work.
Second, it gives me a chance to know you, to determine that we are compatible and that I can be of real service to you.
And third, by the time we have completed the Life Planning Session, I’ll know enough about your company and its issues to be able to give you a firm assessment of the level of effort and cost of working with you to create the desired reality you have identified in the Session.
My typical engagement lasts two to three years. However, after the first intense round of work, my clients tend to continue to call on me from time to time to facilitate planning sessions, or deal with specific problems or issues. I have had a number of clients with whom I have worked off and on for fifteen, even twenty years or more.
The annual cost of my involvement equates typically to the cost of a senior manager in your company. I have experimented with a variety of financial relationships over the years and have found what works best. We agree on the total cost, divide that by 12 or 24, depending on the number of months’ commitment and I bill that monthly as a retainer.
This relationship has a number of advantages. For one, you will never hesitate to pick up the phone and call me if you have a question or an issue to discuss. Since I’m already paid for, there is no reason not to draw on my knowledge and experience.
While I charge a lot for my time, I am generous with it. If something comes up and we need to hold a conference call or call a special meeting, I get on a plane and come.
The retainer relationship is based on mutual trust. You trust that I’ll fulfill my obligations every month, I trust that you won’t abuse the relationship and task me with more work than what we had originally agreed. If at some point, it becomes clear that the project is more or less involved than I originally thought, we’ll meet to discuss making adjustments, either in the retainer or in the level of effort.
Some months I will work well beyond the average level of effort. As the project really gets under way, often a client will ask me to hold back so they can assimilate the projects already on their plate. In these months there is less to do and this balances out the level of effort over the life of the engagement.
On rare occasions, an event or situation will come up with a client such as the loss of a major customer or a downturn in the economy that requires the client to terminate the engagement. My normal agreement is a three month liquidated damages arrangement since I can only work with a small number of clients and the unanticipated loss of a project has a significant impact on my business.
If you find the idea of breaking the firefighting habit, designing your company so that it is working for you rather than you working for it, or if the idea of a self-managing company is intriguing to you, let’s talk, with no obligation. To reach me, my contact information is here.