Winning isn’t everything…. or is it?

I am sure you have heard this old maxim many times before, probably from your mom, dad or some sage relative. It usually follows a second place finish in a two-person contest. Now please don’t take this the wrong way… there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of with coming in second place if that is where you set the bar…but last place…just kidding…it all depends on what your personal definition of winning is. Recently a colleague and I had a conversation over dinner. She asked me when I consider a client engagement a true win. Acceptance of deliverables?…Utilization of strategies and methodologies?… Change of culture and behaviour?

I thought about this for a moment and then answered quite confidently…it depends.

As I struggled for an appropriate sports analogy to help explain my ambiguous position…you can never have too many good sports analogies… I thought about hockey..I always think about hockey…does it translate well? Fast paced, dynamic, always changing – like consulting…how about baseball?…statistical, methodical, analytical – like consulting…I struggled with an adequate sports analogy until one Monday night when I was fortunate enough to witness Brett Favre…yeah I said the f-word… recapture his youth on national television…what a game!…. then it hit me like a Mike Tyson left hook…sorry…maybe there CAN be too many sports analogies. Football is the perfect sport to represent consulting; it is about helping to navigate the client up the field towards the end zone.

  • It is not always about the long bomb or Hail Mary pass and expecting an organization to ‘get it right’ the first time.
    It is not always about getting the client to change behaviour or organizational culture instantaneously
    It should always be about moving the client at their own comfortable pace towards a common end goal

Think moving the chains 10 yards at a time. In many client engagements consultants spend too much time and energy trying to score the big touchdown on the first try.

Now there are many innovative tricks utilized by teams to facilitate the big play such as the Statute of Liberty, Reverse Flea Flicker, Hook and Lateral or any other variation of offensive ruse designed to score quickly however, some consultants still get caught-up in the game. Success to them is cut and dry, it is all or nothing.

I believe a good consultant is like a good quarter back. Now I am sure that we have all been in meetings where we felt like we were blitzed, needed to call an audible or wished for the two minute warning, however, what I mean by a good quarterback is getting everyone to cohesively execute the same strategy towards an end objective….think moving the chains down the field at the right pace for the client.

Packers vs. Vikings…what a rivalry…Favre beats the Packers 30 to 23 the only player in NFL history to defeat all 32 teams…then he does it again at Lambeau Field for good measure…not bad for a 40 year old…for my fortieth I would be happy to just go out for a quiet dinner without the kids…humm…maybe I’ll wear my Leafs shirt.

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