How Many Consultants Does It Take To Change a Company?

By William Seidman One — but only if the organization really wants to change.  At a recent holiday party I chatted with someone who had been an executive in a family-owned ship repair company — successful for fifty years — which had finally failed. The business had begun to decline quickly because of changing world market conditions. The owners knew their business was in trouble and brought in high-priced consultants to make recommendations. Each recommendation was rejected as “not understanding our business.” I asked this person if the owners had really wanted to change. His frank response was,  “Not really.”  They believed that there was a need to change and their numbers reinforced it. But in their hearts,  they really wanted to stay just the same. The desire to do nothing was stronger than the need to change. I recently had a discussion with an executive of a high tech company about the difference between going toward something and going away from something. His observation was that going toward something is much more powerful than leaving something. The ship repair company’s executives were being told to go away from their comfort zone but not, in their minds, toward something promising or exciting. They didn’t have a vision, or even a picture, of what they were moving toward. They might have been able to successfully change  had they had framed their thinking as going toward something desirable. Moving away from the old ways wasn’t enough. A positive, motivating vision was missing, and the company — like so many others that couldn’t change — is now gone.]]>

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