Let's take a quick look at a scenario that happens all too often in the business world…
1. Company has process/culture problem.
2. Consultant brings in new process.
3. Company loves new process.
4. Process fixes problem.
5. Consultant becomes hero.
6. Company thinks Consultant IS the process.
7. Company becomes dependent upon Consultant.
8. Company doesn’t want to let Consultant go.
When it comes to software developers, we live in a town that gets attached to individuals.
Often we start as consultants and over time bleed into staffing models.
It’s somewhat revealing about what clients truly want.
And it’s cultural. It has to do with trust and execution. After being at a client for awhile, the Consultant's messages – and what their Company stands for – become replaced by the hero culture of the individual.
There is a portion of this that’s knowledge work and we fear that change of personality presents a loss of that knowledge. We worry that it will create uncertainty in our daily continuity. That’s understandable. We start to imagine that the daily operations of the new process can’t operate without the Consultant on hand to make it tick. But other individuals have knowledge too, so perhaps the real fear is that we might be losing someone who can save us in dire circumstances.
The fear of losing the hero as our "Ace in the hole".
The intention of having a consultant should be to help companies course correct and become self-sufficient with new approaches.
If you’ve had a rock-star IT consultant come in to help with your internal pictures, at some point he or she should be able to put themselves out of a job. But the opposite invariably happens and Dependency situations arise instead.
Companies lose sight of the original intention, and the consultant gets swallowed up in the process they’re attempting to correct and the message is lost. The Consultant becomes a daily grind "fix-it-all" super-hero – strapped to the process they’ve been hired to provide assistance with.
We get tied up in the achievements of the individual, and not the philosophies they brought to the table. We start treating him or her as a great developer who can get more work done than their peers, and the Consultant turns into a “Butts in Seats” contractor. We lose sight of how they were able to achieve success. In fact, we don’t really care. Ultimately, we just want it done for us. We want the hero to arrive to save us from the very same poor decisions we were asking them to originally help us with.
We want the Consultant to save us from ourselves.
Focus instead on what the Consultant is telling you – the process improvement and self-sufficiency. Not the hero that made it happen. Listen to what he or she is telling you. Don’t just watch them execute and absolve yourself of the responsibility of learning what they are attempting to teach you.
Instead, up your own game. After all, that’s what the Consultant was originally brought in to do, right?