It’s a Matter of Time

It’s a Matter of Time

This article addresses a few matters pertaining to consultants.  Why do you need one and how do you select the right firm?

There is a saying which is frequently heard in the business world which pokes fun at people in my profession. It goes something like this: “When you ask a consultant for the time of day, he asks to borrow your watch”.  The intent is humor but the underlying premise is that you are only being told things by the consultant that you already know.  The analogy of “watch borrowing” actually contains some grains of truth and can actually be examined for some deeper meanings.    The consultant understands that you may feel you “know the time”, but the real question is: is this correct?

The “watch” is a metaphor for your business systems, policies and procedures. The first thing that the consultant should do when he borrows your watch is to check it.  Is it accurate?   Is the time zone correct?  Is it even running?  By virtue of his experience the consultant keeps his watch “on time”. He should check your watch against his own watch to see if it is synchronized and accurate.  The good consultant will never blindly trust your timepiece and simply read back the time “as is”.

Suppose that the consultant determines that your watch is broken?  He may suggest that it be repaired or perhaps even that you replace it.  In this way, a consultant provides a valuable service and helps to keep your business “on schedule”.



Gary Drypen is the President of Inland Seas Executive Consulting